I Reached the End of Myself

Work.

Relationships.

Minding the house.

Pressure.

Heat.

When a person comes to me – whether it be for a favor or to invest in a deeper relationship – my tendency is to immediately agree. I heap commitment upon commitment on myself.

It’s linked to pride, at least in part if not in whole. It strokes my ego that someone would come to me for help or would want to spend more time with me. I don’t want to turn that down. I think I can handle so many responsibilities. Not only so, but I think I can do a good job and impress whomever it is that has come to me. I think I have enough in me to do it all.

0109-i-reached-the-end-of-myself

Over the past two weeks, I think I finally reached the end – of myself, my time, my resources, my resolve (hence no blog post last Saturday). I’d been told in the past that I simply can’t meet the needs of everyone in my sphere of influence, and I believed it at a distance. But finally, I can claim it for myself.

I. can’t. do. it.

Physically, emotionally, and probably spiritually, I just can’t bear to support every request brought to me or reach out to help every need. It seems like such a bleak, pessimistic thought, but perhaps it’s more accurately called “truth”.

However, where I am weak, Christ is strong.

This isn’t the part where I turn everything around and keep a jubilant smile as though I had never missed a beat. No, I’ve already established that I can’t do everything. That realization brought me to the end of myself and was a very difficult pill for me to swallow.

Nonetheless, I believe that God can give me all strength, courage, and perseverance to accomplish all that is on His schedule for me. And I believe that, if I’m willing to lay aside my pride and come to Him for these, then not only He can, but He will.

However, that leads me to more questions. I’ve taken a stab at answering them for myself, but instead of prolonging this post, I’m going to end it here and give you space to answer for yourself with minimal influence from me.

Thanks for listening to me this long. Here are the questions I’ve been pondering:

  • How can we know when to accept a new commitment and when to (*gasp*) say “no”?
  • How can we say “no” with grace and compassion, still not looking to our own interests but to the interests of the others?
  • To what point should we sacrifice the care of our own health and bodies for the sake of fitting in more time to help another?
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6 thoughts on “I Reached the End of Myself

  1. Wow, let me say firstly: this post is vulnerability in action. I admire you for being honest, and sharing your struggles. I really like the conclusion you came to as well: Christ is made strong in our weaknesses. And also, linking your struggle saying no to pride is especially convicting, personally.

    Hmm, those questions. Knowing what commitments to say yes or no to has been something I’ve been working through recently as well, trying to make decisions about how to spend my time for the second half of this year. Something I found helpful was prayfully writing out my goals for the second half of the year, and then asking whether each possible commitment was working for or against my goals. It made a couple of decisions really clear in my mind!

    I find the second and third questions hard to know. We’re called to be self-sacrificing and spend our life in service, but God also wants us to keep ourselves healthy (physically and mentally) so we’re a fit place for Him to dwell! Perhaps it comes back to asking for God’s direction on every commitment, and following His lead, knowing He will only call us to do what is best for us, and what He’ll give us strength for. I know that’s much easier said than done though!

    I’m looking forward to reading what you’ve come up with pondering these things! And again, thanks for sharing in this post. I pray God will use this more stressful time in your life to draw you closer to Him. xx

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    1. Thanks, Jessica. You expressed some profound truths in a way that’s plainly understood. I like how you put this: “We’re called to be self-sacrificing and spend our life in service, but God also wants us to keep ourselves healthy (physically and mentally) so we’re a fit place for Him to dwell!” That was just my dilemma, expressed in a clearer way than I knew how to put it.

      And your connecting thoughts – that perhaps it comes back to asking God for direction in every commitment – leads directly on to a thought that has impressed me as I’ve dwelt upon it over some time: as I understand it, God is a God of relationship before rules. Certainly, there are commandments in the Bible; I think it’s right for us to seek to obey Him. But it seems to be a biblical theme that our obedience stems first from love for Him: relationship.

      On the other hand, my tendency is to look for rules and guidelines, even in places where – from all biblical evidence – He doesn’t intend them to be. Perhaps you relate to me in this? Honestly, I would love a black and white rule to go by to know when I should say “yes” and when I should say “no.” But I think that often rules take me away from relationship with God. Yes, relationship can feel less clearly defined, but all relationship is dynamic, right? Not that God Himself changes, but that He wants us to listen and pay close attention to Him.

      Anyway, I think that after reading your comment, I’ll take the time to write out each responsibility I’ve currently committed to and to articulate God’s purpose and direction in each one, at least to the extent that I understand Him in it. As I write them out, I’ll surely be thinking of you and praying that He would also give you clarity as you consider the second half of 2017. Thanks, dear friend, for sharing your thoughts.

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      1. I’m sorry my response is so delayed, Jordy. 😦

        Oh, your thoughts about a relationship before rules makes so much sense! That’s such a powerful concept, and clarifies questions about why God’s will is hard to discern sometimes. These things build our relationship with God, whereas if God just gave a direction straight out it would be more of a slave-master kind of relationship rather than the Father-daughter relationship God wants to have with us. Thanks for sharing your findings on that. It was very helpful to me!

        Have you found more clarity with your decision making? I know it can be hard! Actually right now, I thought I had reached a decision I had to make but then something came up, and now I’m questioning it again. Perhaps God is trying to teach me some more dependence! But I hope you’ve been able to make the decisions you need to, and gained a closer relationship with God throughout the experience. Blessings to you!

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      2. Jessica, it’s totally fine. I love to hear from you – however early or late.

        Exactly! That’s just what I was thinking! And thank God if my thoughts could help you.

        Oh wow, that’s a tough situation. You must feel like you were so close to grasping an answer and now you’re back to where you began. I’m glad that you’re attentive to what God might be wanting to teach you. As for me, I don’t think I’ve come to complete clarity with regards to my decisions concerning the future (I think that’s what you were referring to), but I do have peace, focusing on where I am now, and I do have somewhat of a plan which I seek to hold with open hands, and let God have His way should He choose to direct me otherwise. I’m not sure if that makes sense… I feel like words aren’t coming to me easily right now.

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  2. Dear friend,
    First, I want to tell you that it is a great thing to realise that you can’t do it. It means that God is working in you, making you grow further than you could’ve imagined before, even if right now, it is very hard.

    Second, I am glad you came to the conclusion that Christ is strong. That’s very important, because if not, all that is left is despair.

    I know a bit what you are talking about, been through such a season in my life, a few years ago. I love you a lot and am praying for you to get through this realisation and come out stronger in Christ than you ever were. Big hug.
    I will try to answer your questions, but as you know, it cannot be a definite answer.

    How can we know when to accept a new commitment and when to (*gasp*) say “no”?

    Jessica already gave you a very good advice by telling you to pray about it and take the time to think it through before answering.

    One question to ask, to me, would be something like: does God wants me to do it, or am I just “filling in the hole”, because no one else wants to do it?

    If taking more on your shoulders leads you to do everything with difficulty and cut corners or makes you neglect some other commitments you already have, it would be a good idea to say no.

    2. How can we say “no” with grace and compassion, still not looking to our own interests but to the interests of the others?

    While saying no, explain a bit why. If they don’t understand or get mad at you, you did your part, stayed polite and kind, let them be.

    3. To what point should we sacrifice the care of our own health and bodies for the sake of fitting in more time to help another?

    First, consider the culture around you. You live with missionaries parents, started working as such yourself. It is the kind of environment where you are encouraged to give and sacrifice yourself a lot. Take a time to analyse this clearly.

    Do you feel an external pressure to take on more commitments? (not accusing anyone here, it might even be unknowingly that the pressure is applied, if pressure there is)

    Do you feel guilty when you can’t take more commitments, even if no one around you says anything about it?
    Did you have the unclear feeling that you would be a less good christian if you say no? That it could hinder your testimony?

    If so, examine those feeling to the light of God’s words. Like a filter, get your thoughts through the truth (lots of th in a row all of a sudden!) and separate what is true and what isn’t.

    Let me give you an example, something I did.
    I once went to work with a broken toe, before even seeing a doctor, because I had work scheduled and they didn’t find anyone to replace me. I would’ve felt guilty if I didn’t go. Was that guilt normal? No, it wasn’t, at all. I shouldn’t feel guilty for not going to work because my toe is broken and I need to see a doctor to check it out.

    Fast forward a few years. I’ve seen a 40 something years old woman at my job, saying she felt guilty to go see her doctor, because she knew he would make her stop work for a few weeks. Her back pain was intense. She felt guilty to stop and take the time to heal, because she felt like she was abandoning her work colleagues.

    That kind of guilt is not ok. It is not from God. It is not the kind of guilt the bible talks about, convincing you of sin, it is guilt build up from the environment/culture you are in. If it is the case, shake it off, ask God to help you to filter and get rid of it.

    That is the kind of guilt you can have when it is about your own children, they do need you, but the people around you, they can survive even without you being constantly there.

    If you are mentally and physically exhausted, don’t feel guilty for taking a break. It is easier to stop for a bit, to say no as prevention, instead of taking more and breaking down, unable to do anything at all beause you took too much.
    Also, I’d say that you have to be realistic about your time, capacities, tiredness, health vs what people ask you to do or what you want to do. Do not forget that God took a day off after creating the universe. You need to rest in order to stay healthy.

    Sorry for the long answer, I hope this will help you out and encourage you, I am praying for you, love you lots!

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    1. Naomi! It’s wonderful to hear from you!! 🙂

      I’m sure I would do well to pay close attention to your thoughts here because I remember when you were in this situation! Was it really a few years ago already? Time flies!

      Yes certainly! Despair would be the only thing left if we didn’t turn to Christ at the end of ourselves. I’ve come to believe that perhaps living here (at the “end of myself”) isn’t such a bad place to live so long as I live at the end of myself *and* in the hope of the Lord which leads us to renew our strength. Otherwise, I tend to put confidence in my own strength and not even think twice about it! What a disillusioned life, even for a born-again believer!

      I like the question you suggested asking: “does God wants me to do it, or am I just “filling in the hole”, because no one else wants to do it?” One case involves God, and the other – while a seemingly kind and considerate option – leaves Him out. In the first scenario, God is the hero. In the second, I am. Filling the hole for others is valuing others (which certainly isn’t always a bad thing), but the message of the Bible is *God* first, even before others! (And putting Him first puts everything else into proper perspective)

      I also appreciate your perspective on putting my thoughts through the filter of Truth. 🙂

      As I said to Jessica, I’m thinking of doing an in-depth analysis of my commitments. I’ve already dropped a few for a time, just as a break, but perhaps I will find more that I can drop, or even something that I can drop permanently.

      What about yourself? How are you finding the collection of commitments in your life right now – burden or joy or something in between?

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