Posted by: jmdenham | April 18, 2012

Exhaustion

Let me just say, I am not blogging enough!  There are things each day where I start reflecting and think I should blog, and then I get home and 9pm rolls around and I just don’t feel like doing a thing.

I of course have started a new job, as of one month ago tomorrow (or today if you are reading on the 19th).  This new job is a really great job, in which I get to bless people lives, be a participant in some really cool things and some really sacred times for kids and families.  But it is an exhausting job, both physically and emotionally.

Kids die.  If you don’t like this, you still must deal with it.  I deal with it on most days and feel somewhat in control of myself.  But kids die, and that is certainly hard to accept.  Kids die from abuse, choking on grapes, child abuse, and cancer.  Kids die.  And kids do suffer.  Kids suffer all the time from mitochondrial disease, cancers like leukemia, hypoplastic heart disease, and respiratory issues.  Kids do suffer, and they suffer more often than the outside world really acknowledges.

So yes, my job is emotionally exhausting because it seems like every day, God chooses to place me in a situation that challenges every bit of my worldview and yours I’m sure that says, “Kids, especially mine, don’t get sick and certainly don’t die.”  The world is fallen.  Or like a friend at church says during prayer requests all the time, “The world is still a mess.”  It is, and it seems like I encounter it every day in the unique way that I do.  (In fact, I truly believe we all encounter this truth every day in our own unique ways- mine is the hospital with families).  And so I come home after 10 hours of working in our fine Pediatric ICU where many of our traumas and neurological and general medical issues come (there is a Cardiological ICU, a Hematology Oncology Unit and a Neonatology ICU too).  And each one seems to drain and I try to give and I try to give and at the end of the day I still give something to my last couple patients because I was trained well at Hermann with my C.P.E. 24 hour calls.

But at the end of those days, physically I am wiped out too.  I don’t want to go to the gym.  I don’t want to run around with errands.  I don’t want to cook a meal or other things like it sometimes.  I am physically emptied.  But I have to called to something special in order to really get myself going, or simply block out exhaustion until I have cooked and gone to the gym and then look at the clock and see 9pm.  Now, some of you mothers have just said, how did he describe my life so well?  I understand that my work life may only scratch the surface of long days and stress and being a wonderful mother- but I can’t lie, I am exhausted.

Between physical and emotional exhaustion, it is easy to get scared by little things.  Like just recently for the first time, I didn’t complete my eye exam at 20/20.  When I put my right hand over my right eye, I could only see down to line 3 on 8 lines.  I was freaked and overwhelmed and really thought I was going blind by nightfall.  As I look back it was quite funny, but the chaotic anxiety was created out of exhaustion.  Really, I am just a fallen creature.

But as it is, in all the exhaustion, I find some good news.  I am just a fallen creature, who has limits and boundaries and finite resources.  When I leave work, I have neither solved all the problems nor seen all the needs.  When I feel the most exhausted, I am freed by the fact that I don’t have to still have something left in the tank.  Truly, we do have limited physical and emotional resources, and so my care is but a sign of a much more perfect and loving care by a Creator whose son is beyond describable compassionate and who perfectly enjoys taking my patients burdens AND mine.

I worship a God who actually shines through not when I am surprised and overwhelmed that I can’t keep going.  Rather, my God shines through when I am aware of my limits, my finite ability to care for all the needs I encounter- when my cracked clay jar is maybe too broken to really hold water.  Why?  Because when I am truly emotionally and physically exhausted, I get to, or I have to, depend on God and depend on God’s people to help me recharge, to help me understand, to help me debrief, to help me smile, to help me see the beauty of a God who carries me past exhaustion.  The exhaustion is a reminder of my finiteness, and God’s boundless compassion.  The exhaustion, though cool as it may be as a badge to brag about in front of others, is only a sign to point to God and his truly good love for his creation.  Now I can sleep to that.

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