Sometimes we can pour life changing principles into people until we are almost blue in the face. If they do not apply the word into their bleak situations, they will remain unmovable mounds of clay. After long hours of convincing and persuading; teaching and instructing; praying and believing, you will soon find yourself suffering the plight of compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue was introduced to me in 2005 while taking courses through the American Association of Christian Counselors in Tennessee. During that time I was drained, exhausted and close to becoming burnt out. The course introduced an awakening time in my life.
I had worked consistently with crisis and traumatized people as both a pastor and a crisis interventionist. The symptoms of stress and anxiety that my counselees were suffering eventually became evident in my own life. Trauma, pain, emergencies, urgencies and weird discoveries were constantly presented to me.
I had to learn the practiced skill of pulling away, calling it a day and collaborating with my peers in like profession. I had to remind my clients that I was neither God nor the Holy Ghost! I had limitations. I had vulnerabilities. I was human!
Still I was trying to rescue all! In some cases my help was not fully received. As I was reaching and trying to pull them out of the miry clay it was obvious that some were resistant to the help. I had to discern quickly the difference between drama and trauma!
If you lead somebody out of a burning building to safety but they run back to get their cat you cannot run back inside with them. You can admonish them to come back. You can pray that someone more qualified can help in the second or third rescue effort. Above all, do not feel guilty or disappointed in your mission attempt. You did your part now hand the baton over to another.
Don't allow people or parishioners to fault you for their failure to make it through the exit door. When loved ones who are addicted to vices keep repeating their behaviors you cannot put your life on hold waiting for them to wake up and smell the coffee!
Today I want those of you who are daily rescuers, first responders, emergency personnel, disaster advisors and heavy load bearers to pay attention to the symptoms and signs that you are wearing.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are you breaking down in tears constantly? Are you angry and don't know the reason for your disgust? Are you overreacting with everyday problems? Do you feel like the weight of the world is upon your shoulders? Do you have insomnia and trying to cover it up and say that it's a rich prayer life?
WARNING: TAKE AN EXTENDED HIATUS! TURN THE PHONE OFF! TAKE OFF YOUR COMBAT BOOTS! SPEND A DAY AT THE SPA! CANCEL 1-3 MONTHS OF APPOINTMENTS! RESTORE YOUR BODY (mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually) - SAVE YOURSELF!
"And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation." Acts 2:40 (American King James Version)
"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." Psalm 40:2 KJV