MORE ON BURNOUT–DON’T STUFF STUFF

Caring godly people hit bottom and burnout sooner or later. I always have admired my dad for his faithful following of the Lord and service to the kingdom. He shared with me that there was a time when he felt burned out but kept walking with God and pulled through. A while back, I was pretty depressed. I felt that, based on how my children were doing, I was a complete failure as a parent. The church did not want anything that I had to offer. Work just wanted a pill pusher, not a counselor, my back was always hurting.  I started to feel sorry for myself and could relate to Jonah, Moses, and Elijah, “God why don’t you just take me?” I knew that suicide was not an option and even that felt like being trapped.  It felt that everyone wanted me only for what they could get from me and not for myself.

So what helped? I guess I just kept walking and decided that Jesus was enough even if I never accomplished great things or had lots of people want to hang out with me. I am doing better at keeping my focus on the fulfillment-to-come when I see him face to face.

How do godly people get burned out? Well for one I circle round and round on things I can’t control. Second I make mountains out of small stuff. Third, I suppress issues I should see, accept the reality of, and move on. In regards to the present: I procrastinate. In regards to the past: I bury my feelings. In regards to the future: I stick my head in the sand . ” I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” I know that I am not to WORRY about tomorrow but it is OK to prepare and do today things that are relevant to tomorrow. Proverbs 22:3A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Don’t procrastinate. My daughter Cheri is wise beyond my years. A while ago I was thrilled to have the chance to teach a Sunday school class. I’ve been going to this church for over a year and finally had a chance to contribute something out of my God design. I prepared well and thought I did a good job and was excited about continued opportunity to give to my brethren. The next week pastor called and said to Lois, “Have Verle bring back the teachers manual we won’t need him to teach again.” Being the fragile person I am, I was feeling hurt and was going to take the rest of the week to build up to asking pastor what I’d done wrong. That would have used up enormous amounts of serotonin to suppress my feeling, would have gotten in the way of performing well at work and then I would have wound up dealing with a bigger problem come Sunday when pastor realized that I had been hurt all week without calling him. Cheri encouraged me to check with pastor and not procrastinate. I called him and he was just thinking that I was a busy doctor and he’d appreciated my help and found someone else to cover.

I need to let go of fussing with things I can’t control. I need to live in the here and now and take the negatives, not suppress them but fix what God enables me, set proper limits on its ability to hurt me and others and accept myself and God’s sovereignty when I can’t fix it.  I then need to take the positives and appreciate, savor and invest in them as gifts to me from God, not wishing they were better or other.

I don’t want to stuff my feelings but before opening up memories of past abuse, it is wise for me to have a pastor or counselor help. If I just uncover things and get agitated and stop thinking about them, they will go back into my memory more poisonous then they were.

 

5 thoughts on “MORE ON BURNOUT–DON’T STUFF STUFF

  1. Dr. Bell, God used you when you were working at Linden Oaks for Minirth & Meyer to rescue our family from the destructive and dysfunctional behavior we were clinging to. Your compassionate imparting of the Truth helped to renew our minds and to begin to walk and live in hope. Twenty-some years later, our marriage is based in God, our three sons and their children are living the fulfilled lives of those who are hidden in Christ and are used by Him to minister to others, including to their parents! We often refer to you and how grateful we are that God brought us under your teaching when He did. Our sons and friends know who Dr. Bell is. We always say that what you taught us was simple, but it was not easy. Now as our son and his wife are about to adopt a child from Korea, we are all so excited to have the opportunity to share the Truth of God’s redemption through Christ to a child who may have grown up without a forever home. God bless you, Dr. Bell. We are so grateful to you and fond of you. We pray for your strength and stamina and for the joy in your life to be abundant.

  2. It saddens me to hear that you get depressed too :'(. I hope your feeling better now. I know that no matter how low I come into your office feeling. I always feel uplifted, enlightened and that I’ve met with one of Gods best servants, by the time I leave. You are awesome at what you do. I need a good counselor right now. My mom just passed away Thursday and I need someone to help me deal with all of the death that has occurred in my family over the last two years. Can’t you please both prescribe AND counsel?

  3. For what it’s worth your cander and ability to really listen even when pressed for time have made all the difference. In a profession where people who have a hard time trusting anyone, Doctors included, you matter.

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