Are you working to be loved? For people to accept you and love you?
Maybe you’re exhausting yourself by doing things exactly right, so you won’t be criticized. Perhaps you spend hours exercising to be accepted. Perhaps you’re taking your kids to every possible extracurricular activity, so you look like a good mom. Maybe you are burned out because if you stay busy, you feel less anxious (because you are distracting yourself from your feelings or a deeper reality that needs to change). Maybe you are working overtime at work so people will notice you.
Regardless of the reason, working yourself to exhaustion is a form of bondage.
Henry Nouwen nailed it when he said,
“Exhaustion, burnout, & depression are not signs that you are doing God’s will. God is gentle & loving…Once you have allowed yourself to experience that love fully, you will be better able to discern who you are being sent to in God’s name.“
Ultimately, you can’t be free of doing to earn love until you learn to receive God’s love.
Paradoxically, God’s love creates space in the soul. It doesn’t crowd or fill – it opens. When we have more space or interior freedom, there is peace and calm. There’s no need to earn love from others or from God. He is LOVE; all He knows how to be is Love for us. He loves you for who you are, that you simply are.
If you can be honest with yourself, be honest with Him. Take your needs to Him. Ask Him to turn your “receiver” on and to teach you how to receive His love!