Since the doors were opened to children without family in 1894, Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries has not for a single moment stopped caring for children. Just like the plagues, famines, and pandemics that came before it, COVID-19 has made life harder in many ways, but the amazing caregivers, case managers, and counselors on the frontlines have pushed through because this ministry is essential. In desperate times, people need hope more than ever.
As fears heightened and tensions divided over this last year, local ministry was essential to get hope to the frontlines. As the doors of the world have begun to open and people are frantically beginning to return to the daily grind, local ministry is still essential. On the frontlines, where ministry never stopped, fatigue has become a common experience. The burdens that have been carried through the uncertainty have left many feeling overworked and overly tired. The message of Galatians 6:9 is timely for this season, “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.”
If we are going to be able to hold onto hope and share it too, we have to be aware of the weight of the burden we are carrying. Consider these words by Henri Nouwen, “Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to a place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.” When considering the counterintuitive nature of compassion, it is no wonder so many are suffering from compassion fatigue.
The cure for compassion fatigue is not having less compassion, but rather having more self-compassion. This looks like taking notice and responding to our own needs. What do you need most right now? Rest, play, friendship, spiritual renewal, accountability? Will you offer yourself an opportunity to be cared for? The people counting on you deserve it. You will become a more hopeful and compassionate version of yourself.