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Tired of Being Tired

One of my mentors, Jess Connolly, is about to release a new book called, "Tired of Being Tired." She recently shared her "tired testimony" on social media and asked if we could relate. Her testimony was short and she basically said she had a complete physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual breakdown. It got me thinking about my own tired testimony. I don't believe I've ever shared it before because it's so full of personal failures and shame, but eh? It was 20 years ago and this is my blog, so I guess I can take the time (and handle the embarrassment) to share it now. Can you relate to any of this?

I was in my late 20s, traveling full-time for work, engaged and planning a wedding with a less-than-enthusiastic fiance, and I got sick. My fiance was a health nut and treated sickness as failure to take care of yourself properly. I already felt judged by him for what he perceived was a lack of health on my part. I sure didn't want him to know I was sick. Afraid of more rejection from him, I kept going. Traveling, pre-marriage counseling on one of the 2-3 nights a week I was home, and church activities/seeing him the other nights. I took a lot of cold medication to keep myself going, sleeping nearly every moment I wasn't with him or working.

I woke up one morning in Dallas and cried as I dragged myself out of bed because I had to get to work. My boss didn't have a lot of grace and I knew she'd be very upset if I didn't get my job done, but I could barely function. When I quietly confessed to a co-worker how tired I was, she mocked me in front of the rest of our colleagues. According to her, we were all tired and I was ridiculous for crying about it. I pushed through, but felt like I was carrying around heavy weights. My throat hurt so bad, I used throat numbing spray constantly and took the max level of over-the-counter pain killer possible, likely damaging my poor liver.

By the time we left Dallas, I could barely stand in line in the airport. My boss snapped at me for leaning on my suitcase because that was unprofessional. Another colleague actually LOOKED at me and said to our boss, "Look at her face. She's as white as a ghost. I think she's going to pass out."

Risking our bosses displeasure, she had me sit down on the floor and handed me her bottle of water. Until I got myself home and my roommate helped me into bed, that was the only compassion I received. My fiance came over and I was burning up with fever, but I dismissed my sickness as maybe a 24-hour virus. I told him to go to church without me the next day.

I didn't get out of bed until Monday morning when my face and neck were so swollen, I felt like a pumpkin. I called out to my roommate to help me. She took one look at me, called out of work, and called my doctor for me. She drove me to that emergency appointment where he looked at my throat and drew back in horror. He said I had to be admitted to the hospital. Shocked, but relieved to know someone else would be taking care of me, I agreed to go. I was terrified to call my boss and tell her what was going on. I was supposed to be back on the road the next day.

Rather than berate me, she apologized for how she'd treated me, told me I wasn't going anywhere that week or the next, and sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. (I think she'd been pretty tired, too.)

My roommate drove home and picked up a few things for me, then sat beside me in the hospital while my fever raged and they ran all kinds of tests. I tested negative for everything, but the doctors decided I had mononucleosis. I remember asking for a cool washcloth but not having the strength to wipe my face with it. My fiance visited me in the hospital once for 15 minutes, but my mother cancelled her plans and drove six hours to Nashville so my roommate could go back to work.

After a round of strong IV antibiotics, steroids, and fluids, I was finally strong enough to sit up. When my throat felt a lot better, I finally looked at it for the first time. I'd never seen anything so shocking - infection and swelling so bad, I didn't know how I was able to swallow anything.

It took me a long time to recover. The worst of it was over within a week, but it was a full year before I could do things like stand in church for an entire praise and worship set. The exhaustion lingered for months. I returned to traveling for work a couple weeks later, but my colleagues took over the major responsibilities so I could rest some.

My fiance called off the wedding a few weeks later while I was in Houston. He left a voicemail on my hotel room phone. (They had that back in the olden days.) It was late summer, and I'd had some version of a cold for months. I recalled "Adelaide's Lament" from Guys and Dolls. Adelaide, frustrated from her continued single status despite her boyfriend's assurances that they'd be getting married soon, sings (while coughing)...

It says here...

"The average unmarried female

Basically insecure

Due to some long frustration may react

With psychosomatic symptoms

Difficult to endure

Affecting the upper respiratory tract"

...In other words, just from waiting around for that plain little band of gold

A person can develop a cold.

I've never been the same since that time in my life. God had been whispering into my heart, "Rest." I had ignored Him. So, my body forced me to rest. I've been told Epstein Barr Virus lingers in my system, leftover from mononucleosis, and when I fail to rest as a regular part of my schedule, it flares up and forces me to rest. I only have the capacity to do so much, and then I have to take a break. It's a lifestyle I've become accustomed to, and I don't talk about it much. I just know I can't over-schedule myself or I'll simply shut down.

It had been a long time since I'd overdone it and my body had forcefully shut me down. Over the summer, I was excited about the amount of energy and strength I had, so I got a little over-confident. I progressively pushed myself a little harder for several months and was okay. But in December, I discovered my threshold. By the time Christmas Eve arrived, my body was done. I had to cancel out on being in the Christmas choir at church, which I'd been looking forward to more than almost anything.

This tired testimony is getting too long, so I'll end with this word of caution to anyone who is like I was: slow down voluntarily before you're forced to slow down. Live a lifestyle of rest. Don't neglect keeping the Sabbath. Even if you don't or can't take Sundays off, make sure you have a lifestyle of rest that acknowledges God as the one in control of your life. You will burn out otherwise, and it's one of the 10 commandments, so it's pretty important to Him. Rest. It does the body good.

To pre-order a copy of "Tired of Being Tired," click here. I've loved every book of the author's I've read, and I have no doubt this one will be fantastic too. (I received an advanced copy of it, but these days I really only "read" audiobooks because I can do so on the run. As soon as her audiobook is released, I'll be downloading it!)



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