Natasha cradles her coffee cup between her trembling hands. Holding that cup, it seems, is the one thing she can do to keep herself together.
Usually she sits erect—shoulders back, head up, chin square, eyes tuned in. Natasha typically leans in during a conversation and engages her audience, however small or large, with hospitality, confidence, and grace. This day she is a shadow of herself.
Her shoulders slump with the weight of her broken heart and grieving soul. Her gaze rarely wanders from the surface of her coffee. She spends most of her meager energy on containing tears.
This is not the church leader I know.
“I…I…I just feel so…so vulnerable and skittish,” Natasha says. “I feel like I could break down sobbing at any minute. I am so hurt; I’m not sure which part I’d be crying about. And if anyone asks anything of me, even the slightest request, I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest. I am totally unable to give, and…and…”
She trails off and searches my eyes for reprieve.
“You’re spent.” I complete her sentence. “You’re burnt out; your confidence is shaken; you’re wondering, after these good years of ministry, how this could have happened; and you’re even questioning your call.”
She nods. Her body relaxes. Thank God you understand, it says to me. And I do.
How do I proceed? Natasha’s nonverbals communicate again. Help me, please.
I’m over at Gifted for Leadership today. This is part one of a three-part article series on the relationship between ‘cocooning’ and spiritual transformation. Please click here to go to giftedforleadership.com and read the rest of the article.