A Weary Allen

I’ve been exhausted a lot lately, and thus I’ve been thinking a lot about exhaustion, weariness, and being just plain ol’ tired.  There are a lot of reasons for this:  We just experienced the Advent/Christmas holiday season and I’m a local church pastor…   My Administrative Secretary resigned two weeks before Christmas…  I’m a stickler for details but am not always good about delegating those details out to others…  We’re in the midst of an economic/unemployment crisis where the stock market elite seem to think we’re getting better but the folks around me feel we haven’t yet hit bottom…  And I’m a devoted urbanite living in one of the poorest and most politically inept city in the country.  Oh… and I’m approaching 50!  Yeah… Why on earth would *I* be tired?!

So, as is my tendency, I quickly begin to think about solutions.  For me, many of the solutions are purely practical, but others are more theoretical and (dare I say it) spiritual.  Over coffee this morning I pondered the thought, “If exhaustion is so endemic to my life — at least right now — is there a spirituality of weariness that I might explore more deeply, more fully?

Now, my theology does *not* take me to that simplistic place of saying, “Maybe God’s trying to teach me a lesson!”  Blech!  But I do believe that there isn’t any place in life where the Divine Source Of Life hasn’t embedded, immersed, and saturated grace, possibility, and new life.  It’s why I have the mantra (more for myself than anyone else) “Every day is a new chance for resurrection!”

So… Is there a spirituality of weariness, and, if so, what nurture and wisdom can I discover from it?  Two thoughts, for now:

I think of my ability and inability to delegate… In part this is because I have such a pastoral heart and see the rich and often chaotic or weary humanity of the people with whom I serve (now *that’s* a positive take on it).  Seriously, I find it almost impossible to burden a weary brother or sister with one more request to “do” something more.  Now, I am gently reminded that quite often folks relish the chance to “do” for the church as a means to offer their gifts to God and be a part of something meaningful that is larger than themselves.  What I haven’t thought of until now, at least in this way, is that perhaps I should invite folks to *be* in new ways as much as I invite folks to *do* for the church.  What would it mean to a tired church leader for me to ask them to *be* a discerning spirit in a particular dilemma or to *be* a voice of reason or of good humor in a meeting?  That “delegation” might be more manageable, and even more productive, in many situations!

Another facet of a spirituality of weariness is the biblically reinforced and time honored understanding that the love of Jesus and the grace of God and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit have a better chance of transforming lives when we are weakest, more humble, and even broken.  Alas!  If you haven’t read Stephanie Kallos’ amazing novel, Broken For You I strongly encourage you to.  (Thanks to MKT for this amazing gift a few years ago).  It doesn’t mention God specifically, but it’s one of the most spiritual books I’ve ever read.  It is a hearty reminder that grace can often come more purely and powerfully when we are weakest and most broken.

And in God’s delightfully reassuring way, just by exploring the spirituality of my weariness, I feel stronger and more centered.

Thanks, everyone.