Compassion Fatigue

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Psalms 34:8

We’re on the beach, waves thundering, breeze playful, sand beneath our bare skin. I lay my head against her lap, close my eyes.

I let go. I let go of the tension in my shoulders, the to-do list waiting at home, the emails and phone calls. My lips are salty and dry from the ocean, but I don’t care.

Work exhaustion has a specific name in the medical realm. I remember my instructor’s warning a few days before the pinning, before they handed me a white rose and we recited the nurse’s pledge.

“It’s likely within the first year you’re a nurse you’ll experience something called compassion fatigue. Try to remember, during these times, why you originally became a nurse. And go outside,” the instructor told us.

Compassion fatigue comes from being unable to disconnect, taking your job home with you, worrying about the charting and the outcome of patients and whether or not you made the right decisions and the list goes on…

I think about the accountant, the electrician, and the postman. Whatever our vocation, when we believe our work is part of God’s calling, it’s likely we each experience compassion fatigue at some point.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” The words press soft against my weary soul.

The salt is on my lips and the sun is warm against my skin and my wife is by my side and yes, the Lord is so good.

It doesn’t take going to an exotic island to experience these moments of restoration. Recognizing these moments, these small graces, is where peace is found, where peace takes hold. It seizes the soul, this peace—like a million grains of sand smoothing each day, each trial, each weary moment.

And with time, a pearl of strength is born.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Compassion fatigue starts subtly, appearing as simply passionately pursuing one’s work. How can one know when the threshold has been crossed from a passionate pursuit to near burnout? What are some ways one can prevent burnout?

PRAYER: Lord, we come to you today. We come tired and broken, but we do come. And we implore that you’ll be with us, strengthen us to handle the week ahead. Help us to recognize more moments where we can “taste and feel that you are good” because we know and believe you are, Lord. And we want to thank you, most of all, for the invitation to rest within your embrace. To let go there. To know that you are in control and that is more than enough. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Preventing Burnout

Research shows that those most vulnerable to occupational burnout are individuals who are highly motivated and strongly invested in their work. When work is an important source of finding meaning, frustrations that arise from unmet goals and expectations in the workplace can permeate all of life. This can lead to a general sense of exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of reduced efficacy. In The High Calling series Preventing Burnout, we're talking about how faith can make a difference. We hope you find this conversation helpful and if so, will consider inviting others to join in the discussion by sharing these stories via email, Facebook, Twitter, or networks you are part of.

Featured image above by Vinoth Chandar. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.