Compassion Fatigue

Caregiving

Today at work, my counseling agency had a training on compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue happens when a person pours so much of themselves into caring for other people that they burnout.

I believe that for Christian women compassion fatigue is a danger. We care for our spouses, our children, our friends, people at work, our aging parents, and the list goes on. We reach out with hugs, prayers, casseroles, mentoring, and more. We do not only give our hands and feet, our time and our talents, and even our treasures; we also give our hearts to care for others. As Christians we feel this is what we are called to do. We are taught in the words of Jesus in Matthew, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Yes, we are called to love others and love is an action. But one thing that sticks out for me is that Jesus wants us to love others AS we love OURSELVES. In other words, we are to also care for ourselves.

Self-care prevents compassion fatigue and enables us to better love others in action. What does self-care look like? In our training today we learned about relaxation techniques, mindfulness, taking time to do things that refresh oneself, and watching for compassion fatigue.

While these are good techniques, as a Christian I know the greatest way to combat compassion fatigue is to bathe myself in the love of Jesus. This happens when I read his word, spend time in prayer, participate in worship, and take communion. It happens when I get away from the crowds as Jesus did and spend time alone with him meditating on his love. It happens when I engage in the spiritual disciplines. One book that has been helpful for me in this area is “Celebration of Discipline: the Path of Spiritual Growth” by Richard J. Foster.

When I slip on investing in my relationship with Jesus it is easy for compassion fatigue to slip in. It is when I have more TAWG time (Time Alone With God) that I am better enabled to love others as Christ has loved me.

In His Peace,

Kelly Haack

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