Lately, I’ve been fantasizing about quitting everything.
My hero (Father G, obviously) describes the difference between exhaustion and burnout. He says that exhaustion happens when we have been working hard and long, and we are simply tired. When we are exhausted, we need rest. But burnout happens when we are trying to save people, stepping into a role we were never designed to fill.
I know that I shared, with necessary yet annoying vague-ness, about the hard year we had in 2018. Maybe one day this will be something I can write about in more detail, but not yet. This hard year has culminated this winter in what feels like perhaps a combination of exhaustion and burnout. Adam and I are talking through the idea of a sabbatical, what that could look like. We have been living and working in our neighborhood for about eight years now, without much beyond a weekend or week here and there stolen for vacation. Beyond that, we are trying to figure out ways that we can rest in the new year, ways we can deal with the exhaustion in order to unearth the places we are truly burnt out.
I remember when my kids were really little, there were days when I wanted to hide under the covers, or simply abscond into the night and escape the sleepless mewling needs of so many small humans who needed so much from me. But I didn’t, because my love overcame my exhaustion. Because hours in the night stretched between feedings, and because I could no longer imagine life without my children. I feel much the same way when we look at our neighborhood and our work. Like Peter in the boat responded to Jesus, where else would we go?
So quitting, perhaps, is not the answer. And as a friend reminded me yesterday, maybe I can try doing something new instead. We need to find, as a family and individuals, ways to rest and rejuvenate. To feed our souls and our bodies with good things.
I feel, in a lot of ways, like I failed in 2018. At meeting my goals for fundraising, for weight-loss, for health. And I faced a lot of rejection for my book. Making myself vulnerable and offering my story and life to people was hard, and my heart feels tender and bruised, like I wasn’t enough.
One of the main things we talk about in our mentor training, and something I repeat ad nauseam when I talk about our work with Blueprint 58, is that we have more to learn than we have to teach. That we grow and are deeply influenced by the families and kids we love. And one of the things we learn most clearly from our neighbors is this amazing ability to get back up again. To face seemingly insurmountable odds and set-backs, to be hurt and marginalized, to be treated unfairly, and to nevertheless rise again.
And so I will take a page from their school of grit, and find ways to rise. To rest and to ask for the help I need. Starting today, I am going to take a photo and write every single day, to remember why and how the act of creation has always held such holy power for me. And I’m also going to ask you for help and support, for this community to hold up my arms because I am weary.
I want to invite ten new monthly supporters to join us at Blueprint 58 this January. This is a lofty goal, and I tried to bargain this number down to 5, but I keep feeling led to ask for ten of you to join us. So if you are someone who has followed our story, who believes in the work we are doing to build community and love our neighbors in Atlanta, I would love for you to consider joining our monthly support team (at any amount, seriously). I need to be reminded of the ways a community can help carry us when things are hard, and this is a tangible way for us to feel and believe in your support.
Also, if you want to get on the list to get my daily snippets via email during the week, you can sign-up for that below. Otherwise, I will continue sending email newsletters once or twice a month with more significant updates (you can also sign up for that below). Today, we have a meeting with our architects and builder and other important people in the process for our building, and Adam and I are planning on filming a tour for you soon.
I will keep getting up. I will keep inviting you in, keep believing in the power of community and belonging to change the world, even when things feel hard.