A few months ago I found myself mentally, physically & emotionally exhausted. I’m not one to admit defeat, but I was defeated. I had nothing left to give. This year has been our best year yet in business, and I was running a pace that I’ve never run before. I turned around and realized I was leading a race, and that scared me. As much as I like success, I don’t like being vulnerable, and I felt vulnerable, fragile and on the verge of a success-driven breakdown.
I looked to friends and family for support, claiming that I wasn’t sure I could go much longer at the speed I’d been moving. I think others have a hard time looking at someone who is clearly succeeding and believing that this person is struggling at the same time. I mean, how can someone who is making great money in a job that she adores be suffering? I got to a point where I could feel myself crying for help and I was feeling like no one could hear me. It was a bad dream. So, I cheated at life & covered up my fears and my exhaustion with funny Facebook memes and motivational posts that revealed anything but a girl who wanted to curl up into a ball & take the world’s longest nap.
I make it a habit of getting up early on Saturday mornings, whether I have appointments or not, and camping out at the coffee shop where my sweet husband slings lattes one day a week. The night before this particular morning, I had searched for “Bible verses on exhaustion” and came upon Isaiah 40:31. I saved it to my phone and went to bed, thinking it would take more than a verse to help me. My situation was much more complicated than a simple Bible verse. I needed a long, drawn out solution. I needed to figure out how to help myself out of this season of exhaustion and learn to suck it up and not complain.
Saturday morning, I rose early to prepare for a marathon of showings. I was going to have to be “On” for almost 9 hours straight – I couldn’t break character and I had to stay on my toes with these particular clients. I sat down at my corner table, hoping that the espresso would kick in quickly and give me the steam I needed to be Tami Hallman that day.
I drank that sweet dark nectar and watched as a little girl entered the shop with her mother. She was carrying a small stuffed tiger. Her mother spoke English with a Spanish accent, so my darling husband began to converse with her in Spanish. From what I could gather, the mother wants her daughter to speak Spanish, but the daughter is always reverting to English. My better half began to speak Spanish to the little girl, but she wasn’t having it. They laughed and went about ordering their drinks. A few seconds later, I hear my husband ask the girl about her tiger.
“It’s a Cheetah,” she said.
The animal was clearly a Tiger, coated in orange and wrapped in black stripes, but she was insistent upon it being a Cheetah. They argued back and forth over why she felt it was.
About that time, I decided to occupy myself with my daily ritual of reading a devotional from a small book my grandmother gives me every few months, called Our Daily Bread. I usually read it first thing, but today my head was cloudy from my thoughts the night before and I forgot. So, I pulled it out of my purse pocket and opened it to the day’s reading. The title was “Outrunning Cheetahs“.
I thought it funny and coincidental when I saw the title. Then I read it (excerpt from odb.org):
The grass withers, the flower fades . . . . But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:7,31The majestic African cheetah is known for reaching speeds of 112 kph (70 mph) in short bursts, but it doesn’t do so well over distances. A BBC news item reports that four members of a northeast Kenyan village actually outran two cheetahs in a 4-mile footrace.It seems that two large cheetahs had been feeding on village goats. So the four men came up with a plan to stop them. They waited until the hottest part of the day and then gave chase to the cats, tracking them down when the animals couldn’t run any farther. The exhausted cheetahs were safely captured and turned over to the Kenyan wildlife service for relocation.Can we see ourselves in the cheetah? Our strengths might seem impressive, but they are short-lived. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, we are like wildflowers that soon wither under the heat of the sun (40:6-8).Yet it is at the end of ourselves that our God offers us comfort. A surprise rises up to meet those who wait on the Lord. In His time and ways, He can renew our strength. By His Spirit He can enable us to rise up on “wings like eagles” or to “run and not be weary, [to] walk and not faint” (v.31).