I ran a stop sign the other day, I did. It wasn’t a slow roll through. Nope, I ran it at about 60 mph. Not good. I nearly collided with a car whose driver sounded the horn loud and clear. Rightly so. Wow. There was grace that totally abounded. Totally. For me. Grace abounded for the driver in the car who sounded the horn, for the passengers. I didn’t get a ticket, but I so should have. It didn’t matter that I didn’t see the sign…I was responsible for it.
Seeing signs is an important thing. It didn’t matter that it was the last day of school and I had made the 30 minute trek to tutor a homebound student, spent our last session, hugged him tight and started the 30 minute trek home in the pouring rain. It didn’t matter that I had missed the turn on the back road that I’ve made so many times. It didn’t matter that I’ve been exhausted. There was no excuse for running a stop sign and almost colliding with a car at 60 mph. No excuse. Even if I didn’t see the sign. I should’ve seen the sign. I can’t even tell you how thankful I am that nobody got hurt. Grace abounded for sure.
But here’s the thing. I had been seeing signs for months..signs to slow down, signs to stop. I love my job, but due to cuts of staff and some behaviorally challenged students and lots of needs, needs, needs, I’ve just felt a bit spent on this last stretch of the school year. Being spent is a good thing when you’re pouring yourself into folks. But it’s imperative that there’s hope and energy and life being infused back in. We can’t pour out what we don’t have without it taking a toll. Case in point- me.
I know that there are so many folks who believe God is ‘out there’ and uninvolved in our lives. There are lots of folks who don’t even believe He is…that He even exists. But I so often have reminders that He truly is the God who sees and moves and loves…not just in theory…but that He loves…me. (And you, I so believe He does, but that’s between you and Him <3)
After speeding through the stop sign, I cautiously drove home on this road that I hadn’t been on before, and I came upon a patch of woods. It wasn’t just an ordinary patch of woods. These trees were survivors. They had endured a fire whose flames had reached up pretty high. But these trees were still standing. They were standing tall and proud and there were green needles that showed that there was still life left in those trees. They were burned but not consumed. Beautiful Queen Anne’s Lace was growing gracefully at the edge of the wood.
The rain had slowed, but my tears that have been so held back started to flow big time. It was an ugly cry, trust me. And what unlocked the dam? I guess I needed a visual reminder of the grace and truth that the ‘burn out’ I was feeling was a reality but not a finality, not a permanent condition. I felt as though the Lord was speaking loud and clear saying, “Heather, you’re charred, but not consumed, scarred, but not beyond repair.” And do you know what else? The woods were beautiful to me. If you drove by fast, (60mph), you probably wouldn’t even notice that there had even been a fire. But I wasn’t driving fast on this back road that was pretty isolated. I even stopped by the side, to take a few photos as a reminder. I know that to keep on keeping on, I need reminders.
Our bodies talk. We need to listen. We are humans with limitations. We need to recognize them. When life gets to be overwhelming, we need to ask for help. I didn’t do so well at any of those things and it caught up with me. I saw lots of signs of fatigue, etc, but kept pushing through… Like a slow burn has smoke, I had seen that I was reaching my limits…but sometimes, it’s tough to stop and do something about those. Throwing a little water on a small fire that is just starting to smoke is way easier than tackling the flames of a forest fire. Gotta respond to first signs of smoke…in the woods, and in me.
So, I got my wake up call and stared those signs in the face. When I made it home (safely, grace upon grace), I slept. I slept and slept and slept. I came home and slept through dinner. Slept through the night. Got up at 5:30 on Saturday morning, worked a bit on random stuff and then slept the whole afternoon. I drank hot tea. I read. I prayed. I sang. I thanked God for new beginnings–and for the visual reminder of coming through on the other side of burn out.
So why do I share this? I considered not sharing because I really don’t want sympathy or judgment or to scare any of my loved ones thinking that their mom, friend, etc. is just losing it. We all go through times of being so very s t r e t c h e d t h i n… We do. But I guess I am so thankful for my wake up call, and wanted to remind those of you out there who might be a bit stretched to STOP. Stop and see the signs. Listen to your body and respond. Pray. Sleep. Breathe. Laugh. Cry. Watch a funny movie. Listen to good music and podcasts. Drink water. Fill your mind with good things and ask God to make the crooked way straight—ask Him to show you the way. Slow down…and let go of the totally unnecessary time fillers that keep you spinning your wheels when it’s time to stop. Because when it’s time to STOP, it’s time to STOP. Take it from yours truly. ❤
So on this Thankful Thursday. I’m thankful for so many things. I’m thankful for a huge wake up call–and also the ability to wake up and see— coupled with the allowance to REST. Yes, I’m thankful for rest and perspective, and the Loving Father who freely gives both to those who ask…and trust me, I’m asking <3…
Blessings and Rest to You and Yours~
P. S. Stop and smell roses. Stop and see signs. Stop and know that you’re loved. Yep it’s important to take time to stop ❤
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul…”
“The JOY of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
I love this new Tauren Wells song. I had heard it so many times, but it wasn’t until I watched the video that it kind of hit home in a big way. Whether it’s burn out, loss, relational issues, illness, unsettledness, whatever…we can bring it all to God’s throne of grace and He can restore, redeem, and renew… , relationships, hearts, stuff, all of it. The story isn’t over…<3