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(Have a candle – hold sideways – have wick uncovered on both ends.)
Right now, I am lighting a candle with wicks on both ends. The problem is that this candle is very representative of a lot of our lives. We are burning the candle at both ends. We are working, night and day. Many of us are exhausted.
A lot of people are experiencing overwhelming stress and burn-out in their physical body. Are you?
We are designed by God to work then rest. God wants us to renew.
A great number of women are experiencing a juggling of their careers, their homes, and their children. Men also, who sometimes are working two and three jobs in this economy, and retired people who find they are giving more and more to family and they do not have anything left for themselves. Over time, these people find they are like an empty cup, and people are still asking them to give more, but they do not have anything to give. They are drained and depleted, and they do not have anything left to give to themselves or to anyone else.
When you have the candle burning on both ends, burn-out can come very quickly.
However, it is very interesting — if you blow out one side, the candle will last much longer. You do not have human energy to keep it burning on both sides for long. With God’s light of God’s full help you are burning with a full flame, a higher flame, a brighter flame. But you are being recharged at the same time, and you are continually causing the flame to glow and grow.
It never burns out. God creates the perpetual flame.
We have to ask the question when we are going through the stress in our lives, “Who am I? Why am I here? Here I am, a human body, but exactly what am I?” If I am in burnout, or if I have stress that is overwhelming in my life, I look into the mirror, and I am just a bundle of negative energy working against myself. I dread each morning because I know I am not at my best anymore. I wonder how in the world I am ever going to get my full power back again.
God gives full power again.
You may wonder when you look into the mirror, who exactly am I? Am I more than hair, eyes, nose, and mouth? Am I just a bundle of things inside of myself that I do not know? Am I fear, anger, and distress? Am I feeling old? Am I feeling depleted? Every time someone asks you to do something for them, do you feel you hardly have anything to give because you are empty?
We have all felt this way. When you go to school, sometimes you work so much (night and day) that you feel depleted. You wonder, “How am I going to go through another day? How am I going to have the wisdom in me to pass that test?”
God knows of your emptiness.
God CAN turn it around.
Everyone knows someone that is going through this right now. Even though this lesson might not be for you personally, it will help to equip you to understand what family members or friends may be facing.
What do you live for? Do you remember when we were teenagers what we lived for? We lived for joy. Every second of every day was for joy. We know this. We see this again when we watch our children or grandchildren. The major thing in their lives, everything they do in every moment, is for joy. They are constantly searching and looking with their eyes and their whole being for things to do to infill their lives with joy.
But something happens to us over time.
We become a young man or young woman, and we go to work. We go to work with great excitement because we say to ourselves, “You know, this is going to give me more money so I can have more fun with my life. I will be able to do those things that I have always wanted to do. I can take those trips. I can buy all those things. I can do all the things I have dreamed of.”
Early on, we choose our work to improve the quality of our lives. Early on, we work so we can have more joy. But then something happens; we work so we can have more work. Our work becomes an all-encompassing thing in our lives. We work so we will receive our rewards from others at work, so we might be promoted. And if we work hard, we get the reward – and of more work. Suddenly, we see that the joy we once had is gone. We are just working.
God can give you profound renewal.
If we notice that the candle is burning at both ends, and we are tired. Suddenly, we wonder: “What in the world is going on? Where did the fun of life go? What happened to the joy I used to feel? Why am I feeling so depleted?”
Again, I repeat, this can happen at any stage in life. Sometimes, we feel more tired in retirement, or when we become a caregiver for another adult. We just wonder where more needed energy is going to come from.
We notice other people. Some people seem invigorated by life. They seem directed by God, daily. Some people live life with so much fun and their lives seem to be a continuous playground in God’s kingdom. They are invigorated and become more productive as the years go by. They are not working alone, God is working through them, and God is doing most of the work. God brings Divine ideas into the human mind, Divine direction into career path and constant inspiration. God is the creator of energy and life.
Yet, we see people who wander aimlessly; drained like a discharged battery, almost out of energy. We wonder why? If we are wondering about ourselves, if that other person staring at us in the mirror – is us, we ask “How can I turn it around?”
There is no better time or place to do this than on Labor Day weekend. This is the whole reason for this holiday – to rest from our labors and to renew; to reflect on God and to have that cleansing and renewing of the Divine come through us in a very special and holy way.
Everything can change with prayer. We can find new energy, we can find new hope, and we can find a new career path if we need one.
There are three stages to the discharge of the battery that is called you – stress, brownout, and burnout. I want to share with you these three stages.
Stage #1 burnout – Stress: You feel physical and emotional exhaustion. You sleep all night long, but you wake up feeling exhausted. You do not know why, but you do.
This may also involve the development of a negative self-attitude. You begin to look in the mirror, and you do not think you are as special as you used to be. You do not know why, but something has changed.
This carries over into every aspect of your life. You may have a negative job attitude. You may have a loss of concern for others. You may have a feeling of being locked-in by your job routine. And you may have a growing state of fatigue.
Inside of yourself, you may have a churning anger and increased irritability. You may have a loss of enthusiasm and zest for living. Your need for a ten-minute nap after work may have turned into a need for a two-hour sleep.
If and when you fall asleep at night, you may toss and turn. Getting up in the morning is exhausting. Even choosing clothes for the day becomes a major, problem-solving situation.
Those that are in this stage, look into the mirror, the cycle seems unbreakable. They do not know how to get out of this feeling. In time, there is this attitude: “So, who cares anyway? I am going to be this way, and that is just the way it is. Who cares?”
Physically, they may have persistent headaches, stomach upsets, body aches, even skin disorders. They have a growing feeling of incompetence, fragmentation, and alienation. They try to overcome by pushing harder and longer.
At this time, this is all they know. All they know is the rewards of work. They have forgotten the rewards of joy. Therefore, they push harder and longer, depleting whatever energy they have left. If you relate to stage I, ask for God’s help.
Stage #2 burnout (brownout): This is the time we may become silent. Even when our opinions are sought by others, we appear sullen and angry, at all times. We use all our energies to resist the psychological and emotional overloads. The feelings inside of us are of overwhelming fear, but we do not know what we are afraid of. We have anxiety. We feel helpless.
Many find when they are in stage #2 burnout that it is hard or impossible to ask for help. They do not want to admit to anyone else that they are feeling this way.
Our feelings lead to doubt, paranoia, and inadequacy. Giving the best to the work now almost seems like a joke. Your original motives for entering your career cannot be remembered. They become very hazy or even questionable.
If you relate to stage II, ask for God’s help.
Stage #3 burnout: The energy to deal with the demands of a job and home life has been depleted. A person in this stage has a great cynicism about their work, their career, and everything else about their lives. They experience alienation, withdrawal, and defeat.
Social contacts take an exorbitant amount of energy which is also not available on the job or at home. They feel resigned to the fact that they are just not good enough anymore. Something has happened, and they want to escape.
Have you ever heard about people who just come into work one day and quit? They do not tell anybody about it.
They leave a good job and a good career. They have been in a decline for a while, and they do not know why. They do not talk to anybody about it, and when you least expect it, they are gone.
This also happens in relationships, family and friendships. Have you ever heard about marriages where all of a sudden, he or she comes home and the spouse is gone? Stage #3 burnout is a very possible reason for this occurrence.
Our human minds and bodies are like batteries. If we give and give and give, and then find we do not have any power left, we are like the person who is being held under water, fighting for air. Or we are like the cornered animal which has to fight its way out for its life. Reasoning does not come in at the point of stage #3 burnout. The person is going to run and do anything he or she can (without consideration of others) to find his or her life again.
When we are in this situation, (and, hopefully, before we reach stage #3), how do we turn it around? What can we do? Stress, brownout, and burnout are preventable in the first place. You can prevent this.
Stress is caused by resistance.
Let’s imagine that this lectern is some event in our lives. The first thing we do when we see the event is view the event within our minds and decide about it. We call the event good, or we call it bad.
If we call it bad, immediately there is a response that comes inside of us that mentally builds stress. Stress has its source in how we interpret the event. If we interpret it as bad, then our response will be resistance, and stress will be produced.
If Jesus was here, what would He say? He would say, “If you want to get out of burnout, resist not evil. Turn the other cheek. Go the second mile. Love your enemies.”
He told us to love, forgive, bless, and pray. We thought He was just talking about people, but He was also talking about the event or whatever causes us stress in our lives.
If something causes us stress, we have allowed that inside of ourselves. How much better to resist NOT the evil or the error, mentally? How much better to love it where it is and let it be? How much better it is to go into our situations, whatever they may be, with love inside of us instead of a resistance that is tearing us apart at the core of our beings.
When I tell you to love, forgive, bless, and pray, I am not teaching you to become a doormat, and I am not teaching peace at any price. I am simply saying to not mentally fight something.
If you go into a situation that you do not like, or something is happening that you do not like, the main thing is that it is going to stay there. The important thing is how you handle it in your mind.
Do not allow it to affect you, or it will have total power over you.
How much better it is to go to God and say, “God, help me to flow with this situation. God, help me to have power over this situation, and help me to flow with the event.”
You have heard this before – Here are two rules to follow:
#1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
#2. It’s all small stuff.
When an event enters our lives, we can choose how we relate to it.
Allow me to share a story with you.
This is a true story about a couple who was driving in the high mountains. They were driving, talking to one another, and all of a sudden, the driver missed the curve. They went over the side of a cliff at 55 miles per hour.
When you go over a cliff at 55 miles per hour, that is about as bad as life can get. You know, in your rational thinking, that this is the end – you are not going to get through this.
As their car was sailing down, the woman said that as they silently said their prayers, a great peace overcame them. They decided they were going to enjoy this – what a view there is from there! They were sailing down at hundreds of miles per hour and they were at peace. They just knew that everything was going to come out okay.
As the car approached the ground, it landed on a beaver’s dam which broke the fall. After the car had come to a stop, the couple looked at each other and realized they did not have a bruise or a scratch on them. The opened the doors of the car (which was slowly sinking as the beaver’s dam was sinking) and climbed onto the roof of the car. They smiled and laughed with each other.
At that point, someone was driving by and noticed the skid marks going off the cliff. They parked their car, looked down, and saw the couple laughing and smiling, sitting on top of their car. This person called a tow truck which came and towed the car out of the beaver pond. The car did not have a scratch on it, and it started up immediately. Locals who had been by that way hundreds of times said, “The interesting thing is that we have never seen a beaver pond here before.”
Flow with life. Here are some suggestions you may want to consider if you are in this type of a situation.
1. Make a list of things that are stressing you. What are the stressors in your life? Make a list, and then put it in two columns. Be very honest with yourself.
Title column #1: The Changeable Things and list the stresses you can change with God’s help.
Title column #2: Unchangeable Things. Under this heading list the things you cannot change.
If you look up in the sky, tonight and say, “I cannot stand that moon; it stresses me,” realize that for things you put in the unchangeable column you are going to have to change your opinion about them. The moon is not going to change. But there are changes you could make.
Make a contract with yourself to change at least one thing a month from your “Changeable” column with God’s help.
Make a contract with yourself to change your opinion of about one thing per month in your unchangeable column with God’s help.
2. Physical exercise releases the energy that is held within you so tightly. Unless the energy is released, it will remain, and it will work against you.
3. Remember, if you are in Stage #3 burnout, you may be like a caged animal. You are going to react to everything. You are fighting for air. Instead of a react, have a “me-act.” This is something you do for yourself. Give yourself permission to play again. This is not as easy as it sounds, because the last thing you will want to do is play and relax. One woman gave herself permission to go to the movies once a week; a man started to play golf again. Both people had to pray to God for the energy to play again.
Jesus said, did He not, to become like a little child again? Say to yourself, “God, I value myself highly enough to play.” Second, do not make any goals for yourself during a me-act. This is not a time to be driven; rather it is a time to relax.
A man said that for his me-act, he was going to play more by jogging. He never had time to jog, but he loved to jog. Within a week or so, he was saying, “Today, I am going to jog 2 1/2 miles. Next week, I am going to jog four miles. Then, when he did not meet his goals, it caused more building of stress within him. Make sure you do not turn play into work.
Third, do only what you want to do. A me-act is not going over to your sister’s house and fixing her door because you have not had time to do it. This is something done by you and for you. Give yourself permission to play.
Take God home with you from church; take God to your work. If you have a watch with a timer or a cell phone, set it so that it will silently vibrate on the hour every hour. This is your signal to pray silently for one minute to increase your awareness of your help in every need. The more aware you are that God is working by your side, and God is working in and through you, the more you will dissipate human stress.
It is all about spiritual balance in our lives. When we are looking at our lives, we must put them back in balance again if something is out of kilter. Putting all your eggs in one basket and expecting to come out whole and healthy is irrational, and it is dangerous thinking that leads to an unbalanced, unhappy human.
We all need to perceive a world larger than the small world of our work. We must nurture our private selves, as well as our professional selves.
And last, we have to increase (ten-fold) our prayer time.
Prayer is the ultimate labor-saving device.
We have to give ourselves permission to continuously tap our every accessible energy source.
Doing this, you will speed out of burnout. You will release stress and you will become a new person–made whole again in the image of God.
The most misunderstood animal in the world is the ostrich. People think the ostrich puts his head in the sand to hide. But actually, the ostrich is hard of hearing and puts his head in the sand to tune into the vibrations of what is happening around him.
When we go apart for a while to pray, we are not putting our heads in the sand to hide. We are tuning into the vibratory force of God that will come through us, renew us, and recharge us, giving us ideas and helping us to go about our daily living, fully alive.
Let us pray:
Dear God, I have been running on my own energy way too long. I have been, at times, drained, I have been depleted. God, I ask for a Divine intervention in my life this moment, believing and knowing that as You come through me, there will be a Divine recharge. You will help me to regroup and renew.
God, I give you my mind and my body. I ask that You cleanse it of all fear, anger, and hidden anxiety within me. I pray that I will be made new this weekend. I pray that I will have the motivation and give myself the permission to play. I pray You will show me how to bring permanent lasting balance into my life again.
I agree that I will go toward the goal of 50% work and 50% play. I will, again, live for joy, happiness, and gladness. And I will rediscover You, moment-by-moment, as You live me living my new life.
In Jesus Christ’s name I give thanks for this … Amen.
PRAYER / MEDITATION________________________________
In this moment we pray with and become a part of God’s renewing life and energy.
This moment I ask you to give your prayer consciousness wholly and completely to consenting to the power of God working through you. We know that God is our help in every need–not just the big things, but everything.
Rest for a moment in the silence of prayer …
Dear God, we consent to You, right now. I pause from the outer activities of the day and concentrate on the inner, restful activity of God. There is, within me, a power greater than any problem or situation I may be facing. It is the power of God – all-knowing, all-providing, all-encompassing. The power of God is helping me meet each challenge with confidence, assurance, and peace.
In the stillness of prayer, I feel close to God, for I am aware only of Divine light, life, and love. I open my mind and heart to God. I let go of any anxiety and feel the inner peace that comes from knowing that I am Divinely empowered. This peace, strong and sure within me, stays with me through every moment.
Rest for a moment in the silence of prayer …
With a peaceful heart, I think only of God. God is always with me as my peace, my poise, my quiet power. In this peaceful awareness of God and the good that is mine, I silently affirm: Divine peaceful power permeates my life. I live in serenity.
My heart is peacefully centered in God. In this blessed state of awareness, I recognize the many wonderful ways in which I am guided through the challenges and decisions of life.
I am free from the darkness of doubt or indecision, for I have an inner light that shows me the illumined path. God is the light that shines through me. I allow this light to shine. I feel its radiance, its special glow within me and within the situations of my life.
Rest for a moment in the silence of prayer …
If you have a decision to make, you stop for a moment and turn your full attention to the light of God. This illumining power guides you and inspires you with ideas that you use to help yourself and others. You have a warm feeling of being loved, for you know that the light of God is always shining brightly within, helping you to do what is right.
Through the power of the spoken word, I decree: God’s Divine light shines through me right now. I make wise choices with God’s help.
Dear God, I am one with Your Divine life. This life flows within my mind and body as a steady stream of healing energy and strengthening power.
Your Divine life is doing its perfect work within my body. I know that there is no condition which Your Divine life cannot heal. There is now an abundant flow of healing life and energy within every atom, cell, tissue, and organ of my body.
Right now, dear God, I give thanks for healing life that flows within me. I know that it is greater than any illness I may be concerned about. I have thoughts inside my human mind of strength and wholeness. These thoughts help the healing process by enabling me to be positive and to think of life and only life. The healing life of You, God, is always at work within me. I bless my body with prayer affirmations of health and strength.
Rest for a moment in the silence of prayer …
With a positive faith that healing is taking place in me now, in prayer I silently affirm: The life of God flows through me, right now. I radiate God’s health and energy.
God, I give thanks for peace, wisdom, and health that are mine through You. Clothed in Your Divine ideas, I feel very prosperous. Your bountiful goodness comes to me as love. It is always with me, surrounding me and filling my life with abundance for every need. I recognize it; I accept it; I give thanks for it.
With joy and appreciation, I open my mind and heart, completely, to Your Divine love and the power it has to bless me. I am centered in Your presence, God. I see the prospering power at work in my life. I no longer worry about the daily supply for my needs. Your love is my security, my prosperity, my success.
I affirm that abundant supply is now mine through Your prospering love. I am grateful. I trust You, God, to continually meet my needs. Divine love enriches me. My life is teeming with abundance.
Rest in the silence of prayer and accept the good that God has already prepared for you …
During this precious time of prayer, we have released our concerns and have felt the presence of God’s Divine peace, life, light, and love. As you move on to the activities of this day, we keep our thoughts centered on You, God, in the faith that unlimited good is now coming forth.
In Jesus Christ’s name we pray … Amen.
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