Lessons from Fred

In the past month, I’ve met a good dozen people who have burned out recently or felt close to burnout. It wasn’t too long ago that I felt burnout myself—continually feeling under the gun, the candle burning at both ends, regularly feeling overwhelmed with too much to do.

Burnout is a regular visitor to the American workplace, and it can also happen at home. Toting kids to soccer games, meeting family obligations, getting food in the refrigerator—there are simply too many things to do in our lives if we’re to feel on top of it all. Last week, I met Fred. Fred is the antithesis of burnout. He simply waits around for things to happen. If they do, that’s great. If not, that’s fine, too. You see, Fred is a male monarch butterfly that happened across our home as a caterpillar, cocooned three weeks back and emerged from his chrysalis this past Saturday. Watching Fred do NOTHING the past month has been a reminder to me not only of my own anxieties and worries but also of my need to slow down.

While I realize this comparison with Fred is a bit of a stretch, our lives are often frantic because we make them that way—we become cross over things that need not cross us. In watching Fred, I saw that there was an instinct on his part that kept him waiting for something to happen with an air of calm. You could not hurry the little guy out of his cocoon. In fact, if you do, bad things happen.

Perhaps there is a “Fred” in your own life—something or someone that reminds you of the need to slow down, to remember that “each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). Take it from my friend Fred–we don’t need to worry about tomorrow! May each of us slow down to the degree that we are able so that we don’t burnout in the long run.

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