Ash, burnout and finding your way back

November 17 2023 | Monica O'Neil

This museum full of ash
Once a tickle
Now a rash
This used to be a funhouse
But now it's full of evil clowns
It's time to start the countdown
I'm gonna burn it down down down
I'm gonna burn it down
Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, fun

Pink. Fun House.

You can watch the official video clip here if you are a Pink fan.

I know failure, opposition and burnout. Maybe you do too. Those times when we have dipped into (or even fallen headlong into) the place when it’s all turned into a ‘museum’ and those people or activities which once were a source of joy become your own equivalent of ‘evil clowns.’ Our joy of life masked by opposition and overwhelm. . I wish it for no-one. So here’s some thoughts to consider.

The deep state of exhaustion and disillusionment it can generate is no laughing matter

As a Jesus follower, I’m intrigued by how Jesus walked through such opposition and such high demand levels and stayed on track to save the world.

Jesus’ work (ministry) drew the ire of the religious establishment, sometimes offended ordinary people on mass (on purpose I’m sure) and political authorities. Gethsemane is a place where we see the weight of all this bearing down on Jesus. He struggles deeply as he talks with Father, requesting another way if there is one. He is unafraid to request a way out. Yet, his final prayer is one of trust and yielding. He trusts the Father’s unfolding will.

He also longs for the simplicity of company as he struggles. Oh, the warmth it brings me to know he too longed for company in his struggles. So much of our culture and our formation drives us to isolate when we struggle. To hide the shame of it. To cover it over. To avoid the risk of being seen as needing, or wanting, company while we struggle. Jesus didn’t feel the need for the disciples to fix it. That kind of company is one of life’s great treasures.

But he did want their prayerful company while he sweated blood.

When the crowds surrounded for too long, Jesus repeatedly withdrew. Either to be with his disciples, or he took off, praying alone in an uncrowded place. Here he could notice what the Father’s heart and plans were. If he needed this, then, my goodness, so do we.

Always there is more that can be done than we can do. Always there is more need than we can meet. Always there are more requests than we can answer. I see Jesus freed from the illusion that he needed to heal all, teach all, free all. He followed a higher agenda than meeting all the demands and requests. He discerned the will of the Father, the priority of the kingdom and chose into that. Every time. Which things to leave undone? That’s a great lifetime of discernment and reflection right there.

And somehow, he left the rest undone. The Son of God left things undone.

Do you want company when you face opposition? Company that helps you find the Father’s heart? Company that helps you find which things to engage with and which to leave? I make it my life habit these days to seek out that company… It’s also a large part of why I serve as a shepherd and supervisor the way I do. To be that kind of company for others. To offer a place where the overwhelm can fade and the Father’s priorities emerge with clarity.

  • Monica O'Neil

    Founder, Pastoral Supervisor and Mentor

    Monica is a Supervisor Trainer with The Anchorage Collective. She is also a faculty member of...

  • Monica O'Neil

    Founder, Pastoral Supervisor and Mentor

    Monica is a Supervisor Trainer with The Anchorage Collective. She is also a faculty member of...