2020: My Year of Burnout and Renewal

I have been writing like crazy since NaNoWriMo 2020. I haven’t been able to fully participate since 2017 (when I finished Polarity) because in 2018 my husband and I started a theatre and then I discovered the true extent of my Workaholicness, and exploited every fear that had been formed in the years prior.

From that point on, every spare minute was spent writing musicals, administrative tasks, producing events and musicals, and then binging Netflix for hours to try and decompress. I didn’t take hardly any time for myself, because there was always something to look forward to next. The theatre had become not only a huge responsibility, but a huge idol for me. I placed my worth and identity in the success of a show, or the amount of money raised from a fundraiser.

I was so afraid of failing, of letting people down, of wasting their money or their time, of people that were on the hunt to destory me…who had already destroyed me. I lived in fear because of so many things.

And I burned out super hard. At the end of 2019, heading into pre-production for our spring production for 2020, I was completely drained mentally, emotionally, physically, all of it. And while I’m thankful that God provided such an amazing team for that production, and some great support from friends and volunteers, I was only half there in my head.

Pushing myself to work as hard as possible, to spend every spare minute for the organization had finally taken it’s toll.

So when the spring production was cancelled due to the coronavirus, I think God knew I needed to be stopped big time. Even though I needed a break, and I was struggling to keep up with the work I had, I felt such a huge obligation to keep going.

And I lost so much creative flow and energy in the process, and acquired a lot of regrets, especially in regards to Polarity, which I spent zero time and energy on after the manuscript was completed. Only a handful of people read this book that I am so proud of, and while God used it to do a work in my heart, there are certainly regrets about giving all of myself to other things and leaving nothing for my independent work.

2020 was a year of renewal for me, even admist the many hardships. It gave me time to reset my brain, truly, and to refocus my purpose. It was during this time that I went through Ted Dekker’s two devotional books – The Forgotten Way and The Way of Love. These were definitely huge on my journey to rediscover my true identity, and I spent a lot of time just sitting in the Word.

Slowly, God broke down my idols, and the fears that came with them. Being stuck at home for a few months will do that to you. By the time I needed to work again to produce our summer web series (in lieu of a live musical), I had let go of so many expectations I had placed on myself. And it started to be easier to leave work at the office.

It was during this time that I really began to really miss writing. And not just writing musicals – which often feels more like a job as enjoyable as it is – but writing for me, for fun, like I had for years and years and years before the theatre. And I’m so thankful for God restirring that desire in my heart.

In November 2020, I set out to write a warm-up project before starting my real W.I.P., a re-imagining of Esther. Having time to soak in my own imagination and pour time into a personal creative endeavor has been so rewarding, and God has used writing to bring some healthy balance to my life.

Now, having finished another filmed theatrical project and heading towards whatever our summer holds, I have found it so much easier to give my best for my job at the theatre, but to let that be enough. To find time each morning to not only work on personal projects and care for our home, but also the importance of being deep in God’s Word daily. And that it’s okay to stop. To not write for a day. To not work for a day. To spend the time reading, or going on an adventure, or just binging a show.

Having reached the rock bottom of burnout has really taught me so much about balance, about how to feed my spirit when I’m busy, and that nothing that I have on my to-do list for the day will make as much difference in my life (and the lives of those around me) than the time I spend with Jesus. My relationship with Him, who I am in Him, will not be changed by success or failure. And so I can do all things for Him, whether it’s work or rest.

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