Burned out, Disengaged, In a Rut & Middle Aged: Countering Despair & The Perception of Weakness

Did the title catch your attention?  It almost sounds like a playground taunt.  But its lyrical ring also strikes a meaningful and resounding chord with some of us who are just beginning to hit our stride mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Living Life on Life’s Terms
In the 12-step milieu, we emphasize the need to “live life on life’s terms.”  This instruction is both an admonishment and a reminder.

As An Admonishment
It’s an admonishment because we must remain especially vigilant in maintaining our reserves of faith, hope and charity— with charity often understood as a selfless and unconditional love for one another.spirit1

We sometimes speak of “deep” thoughts, “deep” feelings” or “deeper” understandings of one thing or another.  Faith in the God of my understanding– a God that reveals Himself through Sacred Scripture– adds that critical dimension of depth to my existence.  If death was once the boundary at which I believed life ended, my faith has eliminated the boundary completely and given me just the tiniest glimpse of the eternity that awaits each of us at the Great Crossing Over.

The realization we are each created and meant for the eternity promised by faith infuses all my activities with hope.  Does this mean I am always free of despair?   Sadly, no.  If I am to be rigorously honest, there are periods still when Satan’s greatest tool– despair- can rob me of the grace of the moment.  But during these times, I choose service to others as my defense.  And I find in such moments that love does, indeed, conquer all.  Faith, hope and love are each inextricably bound to one another and woven into the fabric of my life in recovery.  Where one of these elements ebbs, another flows.

As a Reminder 
handsThe admonishment to live life on life’s terms is also a reminder.  I am reminded that as reeds in life’s great breeze, it is we that must bend against the vagaries of circumstance.  Like that wall that just doesn’t bend to an angry punch, life just doesn’t bend to our will.  Rather, the admonishment to live life on life’s terms instead of on our own terms is a reminder, echoing the Psalmist, that our times are in His hands.  (Ps. 31:15)  There is no randomness, chance or coincidence shaping our experience.  All of our encounters are gifted providentially because all of our time here on Earth is in God’s hands.

How do we transition from here back to the title that originally brought us together?

Mr. A.W. Tozer once said “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”  What this says to me is that for God’s perfect work to be completed in us, (Jas. 1:1-4), we must sometimes be broken so that we can be made whole and stronger in the long run.  Perhaps this is why the thorn remained in St. Paul’s flesh despite his numerous pleas it be removed, (2 Cor. 12:7-12), or why, when surrounded by enemies on every front, Jehoshaphat cries out to God that he is both powerless and clueless as to what to do. (2 Chron. 20:10-12).

And perhaps that’s why, if we find ourselves burned out or disengaged, if we find ourselves in a rut, or if we are anxious at the prospect of having achieved middle age with only “recovery” to claim as our success in life, we can know with assurance that God has found favor with us, and is guiding us, and perfecting us, and drawing us closer to Himself and the place He has established for each of us in His eternal kingdom.


Hopefully, the present Christmas and New Year’s Holiday season will provide us moments to reflect upon all God has done for us, is doing for us, and will continue to do for us as we continue our journey toward the eternity that is our inheritance.

Merry Christmas!

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