This past week, I had to made a really difficult discovery. After months of setback and struggling, of trying to force my way through a really difficult work project and feeling like I was getting nowhere, I finally realized the truth that had been staring me in the face for a long time.
I was burned out.
I wasn’t happy at work anymore. I wasn’t being creative. All the joy and excitement I used to have about science felt like it had been sucked out of me. I was exhausted and frustrated and I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore. All of a sudden, I realized that I had nothing left to give.
What happened? How did I get here? How did I go from a sense of childlike wonder and enthusiasm for science and a love for molecules to just marking out my day to finish my experiments so I could go home? When did I switch onto survival mode, and how was I going to get back?
“The one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks in the midst of the seven gold lampstands says this: ‘I know your works, your labor, and your endurance… Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first.'” Revelation 2:1-4
Over this past year, I have been struggling with a really difficult project. I have pressed on, I have kept trying, I have done everything that I can even though to be honest, I wasn’t really excited about it. Yet in all the work and all the struggling and all the trial I forgot the reason that I was doing all of it in the first place. I love science. I love looking at the molecules that make up our lives and thinking about the way they work. I love looking at a structure of a protein and considering how changes to it impact the way it looks and moves. I love talking to other scientists and seeing the light shine in our eyes as we talk about just how cool it is that our big, crazy, complicated world all boils down to the arrangement of atoms. I love all of this, and for a while, in reality for far too long, I forgot.
I have a lot of things to reflect on in the coming weeks. What led me to where I am, what things I need to change, and most importantly, what, or rather Whom, it is all for. And I think the most important change need not be big or dramatic . It could simply be that, before I begin, before my hands touch anything or I get lost in the hustle of another day, I give myself a little time to remember Who is here with me, Who is here for me, and Who, ultimately, all of this is for. It’s going to take some time, some effort, and an awful lot of patience, but I believe that the Lord desires to meet me here, and that He will help me find my joy again.
Friends, our Lord is here. He wants to restore the love we had at first, the love that feels so far away but that, in reality, is closer than our very breath. Because this love is only as far away as the Lover Who gave it to us. I pray you’ll take some time this week to think about the places in your life where maybe you’ve lost some of your love, those places where you think the fire has died and where you feel stretched out to the maximum. I pray you’ll reflect on the joy you once had and give yourself the space to desire that again. And I pray that slowly, gently, you’ll allow yourself to be open to a renewal of heart, and that in these places you will find the God Who is waiting to bring your joy back to you.
Jesus, restore the love we have in our hearts. Ignite the fires that once burned so brightly and bring us back to a place of joy. And in You, in Your constant presence and the recollection of the great mystery of Your love, may we never lose it again.