Give, Give, Give
President Jones was up bright and early. She helped her daughter finish a math assignment while she cooked breakfast for her three children and husband. As soon as the kids and husband were out the door she started baking bread for the new family that moved in down the street. While the bread was cooking she received a phone call from one of the ward sister’s who had a fight with her husband. The police had just arrived at her home. After all President Jones had just told that sister the night before “If you ever need anything just give me a call.” The day continued with “one thing after another.” It was Monday night and there was no way she could get the lesson for family home evening. She was watching a 2 and a 3 year old of another family whose parents had to go to the hospital for a family emergency. By 11:00 pm President Jones collapsed on her bed still dressed in her street clothes. She was exhausted. She didn’t even hear her husband invite her to join family prayer.

I met Sister Jones, the Relief Society President, a few days later in a psychiatric ward. She had been hospitalized because of a “nervous breakdown.”

Some people believe GIVE GIVE GIVE is the secret to HAPPINESS!
If it was that simple, then WHY did Sister Jones end up in the Psych Ward? She wasn’t drinking beer or having an affair- just doing her church job, RIGHT?

Caring Can Hurt
For the past 30 years, psychological research has been steadily accumulating to demonstrate that caring has its costs. We now know that if you’re not careful, caring for others can have negative effects on the caregiver. These physical, mental, and spiritual side effects of care giving can be potentially very dangerous. “Compassion Fatigue” has become such a significant problem that it now has it’s own “Syndrome” – Compassion Fatigue Syndrome- CFS! Google reports over  1 million references to “Compassion Fatigue.” Here is an example of a Compassion Fatigue Self-Assessment if you’re interested in how you personally might be doing: Compassion Fatigue Self-Assessment. (It’s not scientific but gives you an idea of the concept.)

Principle With A Promise
Consider what Jethro had to say to Moses while he was performing his church work:

Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening [Jethro says to Moses] What is this thing that thou doest to the people?…The thing that thou doest is NOT GOOD. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people … for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone (Exodus 18:13-18)

Notice how long Moses spent fullfilling his church callingFrom morning unto the evening.” Next, pay attention to the consequence of excessive giving – “Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people.”

Of course Moses harkened to the Lord’s counsel and intervened by organizing the Israelites into small groups and delegating (See Exodus 18: 19-24).

Our Relief Society President – unlike Moses – did not intervene soon enough. She “wore away” and ended up in a psych ward.

Mothers Beware!

The principle:  Excess in giving, inordinate church service, and a desire to sacrifice more than is needful – will lead to Compassion Fatigue  a devilish diversion.

Devilish Diversions
Dallin H. Oaks describes several devilish diversions –sins, that we as Latter-Day Saints experience including:

Desire to sacrifice more than is needful
Excess in giving
Inordinate church service

To read  the details see: Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, October 1994, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall”) 

Joseph B. Wirthlin, in the article “Concern for the One,” Ensign, May 2008. Teaches the same concept:

… caring Church leaders are mindful of individual limitations yet eager to utilize members to the extent of their strength and abilities. Leaders teach and support but do not bring pressure to “run faster or labor more than” strength allows.

And if that is not good enough here is God’s advice:

Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you… (D & C 10:4)

My advice: When you become so preoccupied and so worried about “another person or project” that you neglect your own personal self-care behaviors, you are committing a “Devilish Diversion” – and  will surely “Reap what you Sow” -compassion fatigue and possibly a trip to the psych ward 🙂

CHALLENGE: IF while reading this blog you felt a prompting that it applies to you — and you have been neglecting your self care — you probably have. Do one thing to care for yourself-TODAY!
If you want to catch yourself before you get Compassion Fatigue. Here are some hints:

-To prevent physical-compassion fatigue try getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising.
-To prevent spiritual-compassion fatigue say your personal prayers, take time to ponder, and do daily scripture study.

dr rick
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