Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Compassion Fatigue: Just get back in bed already!

The scene:  Little guy doesn't want to go to bed. He's scared, or so he says.

New mother
With genuine concern, mom scoops up her little dear, and coos sweet soothing things in his ear. 

Wise mother
She is attentive and mildly concerned, but for her child’s good, she remains calm and cheerful as she comforts him, but also gives him firm direction to stay in bed. She knows that teaching her child to be tough is even better for him than offering a bandaid for every scrape.

Sucked-dry mother
Little guy screams, and mama’s teeth clench. She takes a deep breath and tries to fake proper compassion  but she is obviously annoyed by the tears, the child, everything.

Mother #3 has compassion fatigue.
And all too often I am her.   The children press in on me with their needs, their (mostly) legitimate needs.  And I try to meet them, and I fail, and I resent and pout about my failure.  And still they need, and it is impossible, unfair, too much.

All too often it is not the situation itself that is so difficult.
It’s how poorly I am handling it.

I trip over my failures, and make yet another mess that I have to clean up.

At this moment, I am writing my way through one such day. I need to breathe, to get my bearings.

What is true about this situation?
Not how to do I feel, but what is true?

The truth:  There are several children in my house, at various ages and with various needs. We just got back from vacation and life is in chaos. My husband is sick in bed. In short, my job is hard. My list is long, and my day is demanding.

I feel like this should be easier, though.. if only the kids were more cooperative, or if only I had more patience.  But the truth is that we are all sinners, and life is messy, and no one small fix is going to change that. The truth is also that sometimes this very same situation would be easy for me. The truth is my body is tired, my house is a mess, and I have handicaps with me already as I begin to face this challenging day.

The truth:  They need grace.  I need grace. We need Jesus.

The truth: We have  Jesus. I am accepted in Him, not because of what I do, but because of how much he loves.
Though this is a hard day, His grace is sufficient.

I look for his provision of green pastures and relief. They may not come right when I ask for them, but He will provide help. He cares for me, even on days that are hard.

I will pray for sanity and help, and for perspective when the walls seem to be closing in on us.  I will ask His help in fighting resentment and frustration. I will ask for his help in dealing with the interruptions, that I may see them not as personal attacks but as tasks assigned by Him, for which He will equip me.

The truth: What I need for the rest of this day, I do not have to find inside myself.  
He strengthens, He helps, He does the verbs. you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, 
for all endurance and patience with joy, 
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you 
to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness 
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(col 1)

Patience, endurance, joy, not as much as I can find in my heart, nor given in accordance with my own goodness, but given as the Father loves to give- by grace alone.

And abundantly- in portions according to HIS glorious might.

God is good, even when my day is not.

Today, my job is hard, and yet it feels ridiculous admitting this is so. I do not suffer as one persecuted, or sick, or under severe trial. I do not suffer like Jesus. And yet, this job in front of me is too much, too hard for my sinful nature to bear.  I react in selfishness, I run out of love and compassion when compassion is still needed by those around me.  Have mercy, Lord, and strengthen me according to Your might and power.  Deliver me from the darkness of my own heart, forgive me, and renew me.

In the name of Jesus and according to Your Word,

Suffering from compassion fatigue today?
You will be encouraged by this post:  Trumpet Needed


  1. this was the first thing I saw this morning. after having a battle of my own to fight. We have a medical crisis here and It's all I can do not to fall apart
    In fact I think I should be learning from this but it's taken me three weeks just to pick my eyes up and figure that much out.

    1. Oh Annemarie I am sorry to hear this... he will carry you one day, one hour at a time. Prayers for you this morning...
      be weak and loved.

  2. Hello from Dakotapam's site! This is all too true a reality for moms. Love your honesty, love the post. :)


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