Monday, January 31, 2011
The Art of Not Doing Anything
For most folks, chillin out all day on the couch, watching a movie, and eating junk food sounds like paradise! But for someone like me, who finds so much of my self-worth in what I check of my "to do" list by the end of the day, it is downright devastating to find out that these are the doctors orders for me.
Right now I am learning the art of "not doing anything". Through all the accumulated stress and transitions in the past 9 months; ie. culture shock of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, transition in relationships from living with Auntie and Uncle, moving in with Shikha in the a 1 room place in the red-light district, my time ending at Freeset, moving into a new home this month, and beginning my internship with Servants... I have officially been diagnosed with burn-out. Unlike being stressed out where you feel you have too much on your plate to balance, experiencing burn out feels like you don't even have a plate to put things on. Things that use to bring me so much energy and joy- like spending time with my bengali neighbors- now makes me feel really anxious and tired. And with all my down time I have had too much time to think; I am often faced with daunting questions about my purpose here, whether this is really my dream, will I be able to survive for a 3 year commitment with Servants? Questions I can't answer but also can't stop asking myself. It's something I have never experienced before and for a "doer" like me, it's hard to face the facts that right now...I just can't do very much.
(taking a lesson from Homer)
In the states, if I had burn out, I could just take a vacation, change my work hours, spend more time with friends. In a foreign country where my work IS where I live- building relationships amongst the poor.... it's a little more challenging to recover and then set up healthy boundaries in the future.
I have seriously wrestled with returning back to the states for a while, but I think one more transition at this time will likely not ease my stress. So for now, I am here, taking it real easy... or trying to learn how to at least. This month I have suffered a bladder infection and giardia (one of the side-effects of burn-out is lower immunity) so it's forced me to rest a lot. I feel really well supported by my new team members (even though most of them are on Visa leave) and folks from home. They have all offered a listening ear and their love and care through all this. It's ironic that I have waited so long to find and join an org like Servants, and my first month as their intern I am at my worst. Perhaps this is exactly where I need to be to learn I am loved by God and others despite what I can do. So far my new team has encouraged me to take as much time as I need to recover and to give myself lots of grace in all this. I feel very blessed and love by them all.
I feel I am learning lots of lessons about self-care and my limitations and God's love for me. My hope is in joining this team, I will learn to live a more sustainable way of life that not only focuses on bringing life to my neighbors but also bringing life to me and my team. For now, keep me in prayer as to find courage to give my heart once again to a new team of people, as I learn the art of not doing anything, and more importantly finding God loves me just the same.