The only lasting solution to the burn-out culture is proper theology that allows us to live a grace-paced life. Shona Murray wisely addresses this in her book Refresh.
Don’t Experience Burn-Out: Refresh by Shona and David Murray
Refresh deals with how women, specifically in a western culture, feel compelled to heap burdens on ourselves. Many of us tend to value our to-do lists and goals more than our health and we see accomplishment as our supreme source of identity (for an idea of where we should find our identity, check out this post). This looks different for everyone but it seems most women I speak to experience some form of this problem and it has always been an issue for me personally.
Reading Refresh feels like you are sitting with a much wiser friend. Shona is a medical doctor who wisely approaches women with a view to the health of our whole beings. She does not try to deal exclusively with one area or another. Instead she realizes that God has created our minds and our hearts and our souls to work together.
Shona addresses, with great wisdom, the theological problems at the root of our burn-out culture. She speaks to the fact that we are not God and we do not need to go through life striving against our humanity. Instead we glorify God as we exult in our weakness so that the world can see Christ’s power on display through them (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Honestly this was so refreshing for me! I literally had a book written about me (okay, I was one of several people in it) in high school because I was already so prone to heaping additional tasks and burdens upon myself. I don’t look back on that experience with joy but instead I see my own pride as I remember all my striving.
Refresh, along with Hannah Anderson’s Made for More and Humble Roots have helped me tremendously to see the theological problem I am revealing when I strive for perfection or act as though I am able to accomplish anything on my own.
God’s Wisdom in Our Design
God made our bodies and our souls to function in unison. He designed us to work with intention and to genuinely work hard. But He did not design us to accomplish everything. We are made in His image but we are not Him. Recognizing this gives such freedom as we work with joy and rest with thankfulness.
Shona and David Murray call this living a “grace-paced life”. I have a feeling I will be returning to this book over and over.
Already by attempting to apply the principles here I am noticing my ability to sleep more, my desire to exercise grow, my ability to focus and accomplish my to-do list increase, and my devotional life become more consistent. I still need to work on not over scheduling but this is all a process.
Such peace comes when we recognize that we are not God! We are not called to do His work. He made the 24-hour day. He made us to work but also to need sleep and exercise and mental stimulation and relationship and spiritual refreshment. If He did not know 24 hours to be enough time to accomplish all of this, in His wisdom, He certainly would have given us more time.
God gives us exactly what we need. We need to be ready to receive it with joy.
I so appreciate that, while this book addresses the theological backdrop that stands against our burn-out culture, it also allows for physical solutions in conjunction with spiritual ones. Shona encourages all women to recognize the gifts of God that are nutrition, exercise, and even medical intervention and to approach them with thanksgiving. The grace this applies to our everyday lives takes away the unnecessary shame of seeking a medical professional’s help or taking the time to improve ourselves physically.
In my own life, I recognize weekly how much more difficult it is to have a consistent, beneficial time in the Scriptures if I have not exercised. And now, thanks in great part, to the wisdom of Shona Murray, I also recognize my need for sleep and the vast impact it makes on my whole day.
Instead of accomplishing less as we care for our whole being, this model actually allows us to accomplish more of what is needful and to enjoy the work the Lord has called us to.
I encourage you, if you have ever struggled with the heavy demands of a burn-out culture, to pick up this little book and be refreshed by the grace-paced life it encourages.
Have you ever struggled with burn-out? Do you feel like you are adding unnecessary burdens to your life? Any favorite resources that have helped you? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!
And in case you want to learn more about the recommendation I made in for Hannah Anderson’s Made for More check out my review here.