There is a little sign in my office that reads, They are not hot flashes, they are power surges. Some mornings I drink a third or fourth cup of coffee, hoping to encourage the latter. Most weeks I listen to a variety of people who are lacking in power surges. They are just plain worn out.
There are lots of reasons: illness, looming disappointments at home or at work, aging, too much to do, raising children. Mothers of small children are always tired. The fatigue of a mother is so profound that the memory of it remains in our bones for the rest of our lives.
But, believe it or not, fatigue may be a virtue. Being worn out might mean we are too tired to complain. Fatigue could also set limits on obsessions, grudges, preoccupation with self and crazy schemes to change the world. It may make us grouchy, but it could just as well lead to empathy, patience and compassion.
Author Carol Zaleski observed: “Fatigue is a gift to our fallen human nature without which we might have the stamina for endless mutual harassment and mischief.”
Instead of complaining, we could flop down in a chair and call a friend. We could dream different dreams, laugh till the tears run down our cheeks, wake up surprised at the first frost, fall in love with God all over again.
If we’re tired and slow down, maybe we could feel the Spirit blowing through us, creating a new space that makes the old one feel cramped as we become aware that we are beginning to allow ourselves to be surpassed in our desires.
Fatigue might do that.
It might also help us remember Jesus, the One who said his yoke is easy and that he will share ours. Picture the oxen’s double yoke with your tired shoulders holding up one side and the strong shoulders of Christ Jesus holding up the other. If that doesn’t make your fatigue feel a little like a virtue, it might at least make it matter less.
And the memory might remain in your bones for the rest of your life.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers