For the past several months, I have often felt weary.
It’s odd, really. Things are going well, my health is good, my family has been most healthy, I have a network of good friends I value, I have had opportunities to travel, my job is secure, my church is thriving.
And yet, this weariness.
About three months ago, I realized that perhaps the weariness is a result of too many good things in my life: too many hours spent in meetings and Bible studies and book clubs and small groups and dinners out and dinners in. Too much time spent on too many hobbies, too many commitments, too much entertainment. There wasn’t one bad thing I was doing in my life. The problem was too many good things.
In other words, as Mark Buchanan says in his book Spiritual Rhythm
, I had chosen the wrong weariness.
They’ve (the Israelites) poured themselves out on things that have poured nothing back, and they are empty and spent as a consequence. The one pouring out that would refill and replenish them as they did it – a passionate pursuit of God – they spurn. They are not making themselves weary for the only one who can refresh them in their weariness. . . The real order of business while earthbound is to choose, in season and out, what to weary ourselves with, whom to weary ourselves for. – Buchanan, page 202
This is the heart behind my year of “empty.”
I’m not sloughing off bad things. As a rule, I try not to devote myself to things like that. I am emptying out good things in order to do the best things, the things that are most life-giving, not just for me, but for the people around me. The things that reveal Jesus the most.
In other words, I am trying to choose the right weariness.
Often our pursuits are trivial. They might masquerade as great dreams, but it’s by their fruit that you know them. We gain things that perish only to lose things meant to endure, things we were to guard with all our hearts: we get a big house, but estranged children; we win the applause of strangers, and lose our friends; we acquire wealth and status, but grow cold toward God; we acquire much and spend much, but give little and – really – get little. The Bible tells us to seek the Lord. It tells us to seek peace and pursue it. It tells us to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. We can know all this, and even do it, but lose our way along the way and end up chasing things we’ll never catch or, if we do, wish we hadn’t. -Buchanan, page 205
This emptying has been painful and exhilarating. I have felt free and I have felt trapped. As I empty one area of my life, I am compelled to examine other areas, areas I didn’t plan on emptying.
But as I empty, I begin to feel the weariness lift a little, too.