Honoring Your Unique Design


Being in a place of burnout this summer has caused me to live more reflectively, to analyze the choices I have made, and to get honest about my lifestyle mindsets. Burnout is a time to get down to the essentials of life and listen to God’s priorities for me. If you are wondering whether or not you are experiencing burnout, listen to this podcast. The women read a list of spiritual, emotional, physical and relational symptoms that will offer clarity.


In his book Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer says that burnout can be fueled by not honoring your Inner Light. This means that we may not have listened to the Spirit at work in our inner self to discern our vocation in life, but instead, we chose a vocation based on outside ideals.


What does this look like? It looks like taking copious notes at workshops or filing away mental ideas from podcasts or aligning my day to the same rhythm/curriculum/way of living as another woman does.


Inspiring input can build a foundation of wisdom and vision but it can also cause us to live out of giftings that we simply don’t possess.


We have limits.


We can only sustainably serve our families and community from our authentic wiring.


How do we discern who we are as a unique woman, mother, contributor to community?


Personality Tests (Myers-Briggs, Enneagram)


I think that every woman needs to honor the God-given personality that He created her with.


If you are an introvert, then He designed you that way for a purpose with a need for solitude, a few friends, and a rich inner life. When you read an article about a mother who teaches a co-op in her home, serves in multiple capacities at church, and has all the neighborhood kids in for cookies, then she’s probably an extrovert who is made for activity, energy, and lots of people. Don’t compare yourself with her or think that you *should* be doing those things.


If you are a woman who needs order, closure, and schedules, then don’t try to go be the laid-back, go-with-the-flow mom who finger-paints, cooks on a whim, and lies down with her kids on a blanket in the afternoons outside.


Be who you are and honor the way that God designed you for your people. You will never be all the strengths of all the personalities.


Recovering from burnout means you must recover your personality and honor its strengths and limits. We need to stop living someone else’s life.


Sacred Pathways


This book shares how people are designed in unique ways that connect with God through certain spiritual pathways. Some connect and worship the Lord the best through activism, others through intellectualism/theology, some through enthusiasm, and some by nature, contemplation, or as a sensate.


When we understand the spaces in which we best connect with the Lord, then we stop trying to make our spiritual lives look just like everyone else’s, and instead, find our authentic path to hearing the Spirit.


I sense the Lord the clearest through afternoons in nature and as a sensate with candles burning and art pinned to the wall, not in the early morning listening to teaching with praise music. I tried so long to force myself to honor the Lord in ways that felt dry and contrived to me. Now I head outside with a journal or walk a prayer labyrinth or sit in front of stained glass windows in a large cathedral.


Spiritual burnout can happen when we are following man-made rules for relating to God instead of humbly learning alternative disciplines that open up fresh space to connect with the Lord.


Childhood Rhythms 


Parker Palmer says that when we are trying to discern vocation, we listen to our lives. We look back to our childhood and make notes about who we were, our passions, the way we spent our time, the way we energized ourselves. In childhood, the design of our vocation is  the most apparent because we haven’t begun hiding, pleasing, or over-achieving. 


This was one of the most helpful exercises I did this summer. I took the time to write down the essence of who I was as a kid, how I related to others, and when I felt my best. I was humbled by my memories because it seems like I have been trying to live the opposite of those ways for most of my adult life. No wonder I am so tired and feel so far away from my calling!


My childhood was books, loving to learn, being alone a lot, feeling the most free when outside, sensitive to my environment/clothing/pace, anxious in new social spaces, always ready to get back home and happy to go to bed every night. I have believed that I am *supposed* to be a highly extroverted woman who flings her doors and life wide-open, ready and willing to go anywhere, sacrifice anything, always available and pushing through my sensitivities no matter what for anyone. A boundary-less life.


God has been showing me that he made me for small+ intimate + boundaried. Less but better. I’ve tried to live open, available and loud, and life became exhausting, deafening, and crushing.


Who are you? How did God design you? Are you trying to live out someone else’s design, ideals and capacity? Did you confuse their enthusiasm with the voice of God for your life? Are you living by “shoulds” and not by the voice of the Spirit speaking within your spirit? Do you know that you are loved completely with your own set of skills, personality strengths, limits and energy levels? 


God made us and loves us. He does not desire striving, pushing, guilt and shame for us. He wants us to honor Him with the diversity that He has planted in each of us. We are a Body and each one of us reflects Him beautifully with our unique role, giftings, and wirings.


Be you, really well.