Hospitality in the Midst of Exhaustion

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gently and humble at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Often, pieces of a writer’s life subtly ooze into his/her writing. Sometimes it is not so subtle. This post is a not-so-subtle way of saying that I am exhausted, and that when exhaustion kicks in, it is hard for me to be hospitable. Here is how I am overcoming it, and here is how you can bounce back, even when you are exhausted.

Practice Self-Care

I am sure you have heard the metaphor about the cup of water. In order to give, it is important to be filled up. If a cup is always being poured out and never filled, then eventually it will run out of water. No matter how slowly it is being emptied of its resources, it will eventually be empty if there is no water coming in. Even if the water is stagnant (which I pray it never is), the water will eventually evaporate. Likewise, if we are not being poured into, then we will be running on empty before too long. Being empty would mean that we have no more to give, and without being able to give, we cannot practice being hospitable.

In order to prevent being empty, in this way, we must take care of ourselves; we must practice self-care. Self-care is one of my favorite things to talk about, but I stink at actually putting my words into practice. However, in the midst of exhaustion, when I feel depleted of energy, I must take time to get that energy back though self-care. My friend once said, “When life gives you lemons, sometimes you need to put the lemons down and take a nap.” Those are words that I, as a lover of naps, am a fan of. With that said, sometimes, naps are a necessary means of self-care. It is my favorite form of self-care.

Some other forms of self-care are:

  • Leisurely reading a book
  • Knitting a scarf (Ok, this may not be realistic for everyone, but it is really easy to learn!)
  • Taking a walk
  • Journaling
  • Meditation
  • Dancing (Another one of my personal favorites)
  • Meeting a friend for coffee
  • Playing a sport
  • Going on a personal retreat
  • Soaking up the sunshine (Ok, I’ll stop here. I think you get the point.)

Whatever it is that makes you full again, do that, and do it regularly.

Slow Down and Prioritize

I have said multiple times in previous blogs; you can’t do everything, and that’s okay. In those times when you are feeling like you are doing everything, step back. Write down everything that is taking up your time, and write out how much time each thing takes up. Then, when you have this list, prioritize. Number each item on the list from most important to least important, and then re-write your list, from the most important to least important. From that list, pick 1 or 2 things that you can step away from for a time or for forever.

If you are unable to step away from any of the items on your list, look at how much time you are spending on each item. Are there things you spend more time on than you would like or things you would like to spend more time doing? If so, plan to spend more or less time on one things, and plan time to spend resting.

Spend Time With Jesus

In the verse mentioned at the beginning of this blog, Jesus says he will give us the rest that we need. This kind of rest is a rest that reaches deeper than physical rest; it is spiritual rest. It is rest for our souls. It is the kind of rest that energizes you even when your body is physically tired. Have you ever felt that? I have, and a lot of the time, I feel this energy after I go on a retreat with a group of people or after working at a summer camp all summer. It is an amazing, intense energy that comes from simply spending time with Christ. I find it most when I am in worship with other people, through journaling, or through serving others. How cool is it that I, and you, can find this kind of energy while serving, while being hospitable?

Other ways of spending time with Christ include:

  • Reading and studying Scripture
  • Prayer
  • Confession
  • Fasting

If you, like me, are in a season of exhaustion, I pray you are able to find some rest and are able to practice hospitality in the midst of your tiredness.

From an open table,

Courtney