I have come to think that burn out has different stages and scenery. It’s like watching a prairie fire over time–eventually, it burns itself out. You’re left in a quiet, peaceful, albeit grey area of ashes and soot. This is the layer that brings back life, if you let it.
A few weeks ago I wrote this about resetting my mind from materialism and the constant onslaught of American marketing. Marketing in America is like trying to walk through a hallway of funhouse mirrors. You can quickly become disoriented and you intentionally have to want to leave in order to get out.
If you’d like to join me on this journey, here are some of the steps I’ve taken so far with the saint. See if some of these would help you, too. Remember to give yourself grace and to not compare yourself to others. We’re all on our different journeys.
Somewhere along the line, we lose ourselves. We find ourselves at Costco, staring at the shiny camera on the shelf, the thing that will give you x (book advertisement) and help you do y (YouTube). Marketers spend billions of dollars to trap, ensnare and keep you in their cycle of wanting, buying and eventual dissatisfaction. Set this process on repeat and there’s the foundation of the economy and personal debt, I would argue.
Despite my best (albeit fragile) attempts, I fell into this snare recently. It happened slowly, but grew in intensity. The items were mainly to help me with my writing or my writing room. I found myself getting gentle warnings of this modern day idolatry: tugs at the heart that something wasn’t quite right, conversations with people that just happened to touch on the traps of materialism and my own self reflections that eventually increased over time. After some more reflection, I feel this was God poking me with His great holy stick from on high, golden, bedazzled and gleaming with polish.
*poke, poke* *poke, poke*
After about a hundred pokes or so, the message clicked. I’m kneeling down at the cross now and I’m cutting the ropes–the snares–I’ve suddenly found twisted around my ankles, digging into my skin, starting to leech at my soul. I’m tired of the cycle of materialism, the power money can have over you if you let it. I’m not playing the game anymore.
There are moments in life where we need to make quick decisions. These are forks in the roads with possible cliffs. Do I raise my voice and lose control to anger? Do I snap back and give a biting, scathing remark? Do I judge someone harshly walking by me? Do I fall back on legalism?
I’m reminded of a quote, one that I put in my book. This verse has stuck with me for a long time. I find it very uncanny:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” -Jesus (Matthew 10:16)
To quote John Pinette, sometimes I lose my cherub like demeanor. Whether it’s in parking garages, the daily commute or someone being a me-monster, my clock of patience winds down with humanity more quickly these days. The hour hand suddenly jams and can’t move. Soon the second hand gets stuck and the minute hand ticks solitarily in place. I start to twitch while calculating coffin sizes in my mind.
Why, you think to yourself, are humans so selfish? I checked out a few theology books* at the library the other day, as we INTJ Christians do, to review the apologetics. One of the books answers tough questions about life, like why evil exists and why paper cuts happen. The Archangel Gabriel tapped me on the shoulder while I was checking out. I saw he had some comic books in his hands: X-Men Archangel of all things. He was frank with me, as usual: “Try dealing with your kind for thousands of years, kid. Some of us angels are difficult, too, but that’s a whole other story. By the way, can you autograph my copy of Memory Bound? Make it out to “Gabby the Angel”. Michael will keep his paws off it that way…”
I live in a society where competition is regarded as the norm, cooperation something as secondary. The helpers or behind the scenes persons are often just as described, behind the stages and included in the “menial mentions” at parties. The “winners” are trained to take all the credit and glory. If they remember a few names at an event to thank, it may qualify for a miracle…
I work in a field, and commingle with other professions, where it’s all too easy to lose faith in humanity. I had a very discouraging week of me fixing issues others had made or observing chaos unfold around me I hadn’t created. This occurred both at a local level in my immediate environment and nationally through the news (looking at you, D.C.) By Friday, my brain was TMNT ooze and my thoughts were turning to the dark side, Obi Wan.
Hello and welcome to Day 25 of Blogmas 2018. We’ve made it! To celebrate, I’m sharing a favorite clip from one of my favorite Christmas movies. Linus, after all, says it best.
We’ll be taking a break from the blog for a little bit to recuperate. But while you’re here, click that subscribe button to help us get to 100 Arcians before the New Year. Say it with me: ker-kaw, kew-kaw!
“Welcome to Day 16 of Blogmas 2018. Mr. Swinebottom is taking a day off today. So grab your chestnut roasting pan and let’s begin!”
“This is Reginald Swinebottom presents. Welcome to Day 15 of Blogmas 2018. Grab your mittens and let’s get crackin’!”