"Of course you will get tired and burn-out and experience stress."
- said to a group of Catholic homeschooling mothers by a compassionate priest
There is nothing that has stuck with me more from our beautiful DFW Day of Grace for Catholic Homeschooling Mothers last month than this statement. I have circled it in my journal, pondered it in my heart, and wow. This seriously has changed my paradigm.
For years, I have heard fellow homeschooling mothers (but everyone probably experiences burn-out) discuss how to avoid burn-out and keep going. We talk about doing all the things we know we should do to remain at peace in our daily lives, all the many, many things. And I am not saying that burn-out is completely unavoidable, but I now think it is not the end-of-the-line desperation I once saw. It is instead an opportunity to grow in holiness.
The previous two Lents I have been blessed by Elizabeth Foss's Restore workshops, an online course for women experiencing burn-out. She is not running the course this year, but her guidance of spiritual and practical help for making ourselves whole again has been a gift to hundreds of women, proving that burn-out is a reality and a concern for many and that we can heal from it with God's grace. A quick Google search on Catholic homeschooling burnout resulted in over 371,000 results; it's clearly not rare.
Father's focus was not, as I expected, how to avoid burn-out and stress and not fall apart. It was to instruct us to choose to respond differently when we are tired and weary, to choose to respond rather than react. He taught us that God's grace is the help we need to see the stress as a symptom of the sickness of sin and to seek healing by making changes, by stepping back and viewing our stress through God's eyes. This can only be done, he reminded us, when we have a solid friendship with God.
I think that partly inspired my resolution to spend time in Scripture daily, in order to grow in relationship with God. So that is key. But my new paradigm is that instead of causing myself more stress by thinking of all the things I should be doing to avoid burn-out (i.e. eating well, sleeping well, exercising, planning meaningful lessons, keeping up with housework, etc.), I am looking at my stress as a reminder to take a deep breath and deflect the negativity, turning to God in that moment, which is much more frequently, and that's definitely a good thing.
Maybe all of that only makes sense in my head, but it seemed worth putting words down to try to communicate it to my friends, even though never of you ever face burn-out or stress. lol!
What choices do you make when you face stress that help you see it differently, through the lens of God's grace?