What do you do when you feel like you have nothing left to give?

stranded-918933_1280That’s how I’ve felt through the week after the Clay Pots Retreat. It had been an amazing six weeks where I’ve given classes, retreat conferences, and assisted with our live webathon novena, but by the middle of the week, I couldn’t even think any more. I knew my introverted tank was past empty and I was running on fumes. It’s not comfortable when I feel like I have nothing left, that I’m “poured out,” and emotionally exhausted. In my prayer, even reading the Bible feels like it’s too hard. Fear that I will never be refilled takes over because I don’t even have the energy to deal with my worries.

And perhaps that’s the hardest part of all. When I’m that exhausted, I don’t just stop paying attention interiorly, but I feel stranded in the middle of nowhere, alone and abandoned; maybe even wrecked. Pretty soon, I’m overwhelmed by negativity and I simply want to cry because the emptiness haunts me.

That’s the short version of how I felt by Friday.

But I’d been in this place before, and I had the grace to see it coming earlier in the week. I seized an opportunity to get away for about a day and a half, and I took myself completely offline. In my prayer—when I just wanted to weep for sheer emptiness—I remembered how Jesus sanctified exhaustion. His solution for exhaustion was seeking out his Father…and so I spent several hours in quiet prayer. Most of the prayer time I simply accepted my emptiness, prayed for the people I’ve been interacting with for the past six weeks, and told Jesus I was open to whatever he wanted. 

That simple acceptance of my feelings and my discomfort, in Jesus’ presence—as difficult as it was—changed everything. Suddenly I was no longer stranded alone. Jesus was with me. Simply giving Jesus my poor, empty self and knowing that that was enough for him, made it become enough for me.

It was a very gentle weekend: I prayed quietly a lot, journaled a good bit, spent time outside (beautiful New England fall weather), took some long walks, watched a sci-fi film with a friend, and slept. And by Monday morning, I felt so blessed by the gifts of my ordinary life. But I continue to be aware that, for the next week or two, I need to continue being gentle, undemanding with myself, and creating extra space for quiet and listening. This will allow the “spiritual recharging” that began weekend to continue.

What do you do when you are spiritually and/or emotionally exhausted? I would love to hear your tips and strategies for “refueling” your spiritual life and your creativity!


10 thoughts on “Recharging

  1. hi. I wish you a happy Monday. I am contacting you because I want to become a nun. I want to learn about different religion. I can make the world a better place. that’s my mission. the nun life is so pure and clean. but how to start on my mission??? I contacted couple churches but no good results yet, and I was mislead. I wear a pants and a t-shirt everyday, but I want to start on my mission and get dresses like you , a nun. can you please tell me how to start to get dressed like you??? who to turn to if I want to become a nun??? I hope you will reply back to me. I wait your reply.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Annabella,

      Thank you for your comment! You can learn more about being a sister at my other blog, There you can find reflections about discernment, and stories about how I live our mission of evangelization, the vows and community life as a Daughter of St. Paul.

      I encourage you to continue to pray about how God is calling you. All of the vocations are beautiful and calls to holiness: marriage, priesthood, religious life. Perhaps getting in touch with a priest or sister near where you live, and asking them your questions about sisterhood would be helpful for you at this time! You can also browse different communities of sisters on the internet. I’m not sure where you are from, but perhaps finding a convent that is near you that you can write a letter to the sisters and even arrange for a phone conversation, would be helpful. There are also some very helpful articles on a website that helps people in the USA to discern their vocation ( This article might be helpful for you to start with:

      The most important thing you can do if you are interested in becoming a sister is to grow in your relationship with God. I will be praying for you, Annabella.

      God bless,
      Sr. Marie Paul


  2. Spiritual and emotional exhaustion. Used to be the story of my life.

    One thing I implemented which has helped me so much is the Sabbath rest. I shut it completely down on Sunday’s. Phones go off, no laundry, yard work, mopping, dusting, cooking etc… I call my family and let them know my phones are being shut off and if they need anything to call my cell number. My friends do not have my cell phone number that is for family alone.

    My prayers on Sunday I call, “My prayers of rest.” I pray the Liturgy of the Hours six days a week. On Sunday’s I have a Catholic Prayer Book with simple prayers and it does not take me very long.

    I like to draw, read, watch movies etc… these are the things I do on Sundays.

    Sister how I feel on Mondays I cannot describe. I am ready for the week, for work, for charity, for Church and anything else the Lord has for me to do.

    I find myself so anxiously awaiting Sabbath rest during the week, though I am thankful I am able to get up and do my work the other six days. I finally understand why the Lord gave it to us.

    Another thing I do, is I only try and take care of “my corner of the world.” The part of it God has given to me to take care of. I used to try and take care of the “world.” You know Sister, we cannot do that. God has given us a specific corner, with specific people to take care of. When we do this, we are in His will for our lives, which I have found keeps me from being “spiritually exhausted.” Always remember even Jesus rested and so did God.

    I believe we do not so much become “spiritually exhausted” as we become mentally and physically exhausted. When this happens the spiritual side of us becomes exhausted as well. Good post and God Bless, SR

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear SR,
      Thank you so much for sharing! Truly keeping the Sabbath is a wonderful way of “recharging” every week, and it is what the Lord intends for us, I believe.

      So much of what you said is so true: about Jesus resting, about taking time regularly to pray more deeply, to relax, to do things that we love to do, to set healthy “boundaries”–e.g. we are called to do what we are called to do, not to take care of the whole world. I appreciate your description of “my corner of the world.” I also like your insight that we don’t become spiritually exhausted…for me, I think it is more emotional exhaustion (usually accompanied by physical fatigue), which makes it difficult to engage deeply on a spiritual level. How often my retreat director on my annual retreat has told me to take the first day of retreat to catch up on rest, even taking a long nap during the day!

      In my life, I have also discovered that there are “seasons” in which I am called to stretch and do more, and other times when I am called to do less. This seems to be a rhythm for a Pauline apostle, and I continually need to discern how God is calling me in this moment. The past two months were more intense seasons; this month is my “season” for recharging and preparing; and as I look forward, I believe December will be another time of stretching and reaching out.

      Let us pray for one another, and for those who, at this moment, need spiritual refreshment!

      God bless.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Sister Marie,

    I hope this will be of encouragement to you in your tiredness. I’m not a “Marian” Catholic, and have little inclination to ask Saints to put in a good word for me with the Lord if I’m on the look out for favours. I don’t know what type of Roman Catholic that makes me–but I did watch your live novena series on the web (albeit from the UK). I saw you on the second or third day of the novena sessions praying with other sisters. I was deeply moved and challenged by your whole demeanour which radiated God’s warmth and love–even when you weren’t speaking. Ever since the podcasts I have been asking myself: do other people see Christ in me? Do I remind others of Jesus when they meet and engage with me–or when I pray for them? It got me wondering what it was about you that made me feel that I was watching Jesus praying for the needs of others through you. The only answer I could come up with is that he must really live in you. I was very humbled to read your frank and honest account of your weariness over the past number of weeks. And yet it was during this period of tiredness and your feeling run down that I glimpsed the Saviour–not in your words or deeds, but simply in your face. I think your fatigue and emptiness left room for Jesus to express himself. I just want to share this with you so that you can ponder afresh that in your weakness God’s strength and glory is perfected–and blessing people on the other side of the world.

    I am praying for you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brendan,
      What a delight to hear that you prayed our Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots with us, and were led to such deep reflection and prayer.

      Thank you for the encouraging words, and for sharing your profound insight into reflecting on how we are all called to radiate God’s warmth and love–so that others can see Jesus in us and through us.

      I am touched by and truly appreciate your prayers for me. People usually ask sisters for prayers, but forget that we need them, too! And I’ll continue to pray for you too–now by name!–as Brendan-across-the-ocean.

      God bless,
      Sr. Marie Paul


  4. Sometimes, I go all the way to the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and visit all of the side chapels and pray, visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, go to confession and attend Mass…just make it a mini-retreat. Long prayerful walks are good, too – leading off with a Rosary. Something which always helps – doing something good, making even a small sacrifice for another…I think that opens doors for the realization of Grace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But, it can be discouraging, honestly, when our gift to another is rejected. That happened to me this summer – made an extraordinary gift for just one person just because I felt inspired, like God wanted this. The response was sort of crippling, though. I learned from this that sometimes, when a soul is injured, they are not able to receive “gift” fully because they look at the gift through their injury, and they see a gift with the corruption of that injury on it. I did not see this at the time, but I know this now. I suppose that I was like a veterinarian who found the thorn on the hind leg of the horse, and received a swift kick for my effort! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Francis, for your insights. Retreats are often the best way for me to recharge, although when I’m really exhausted, keeping it simple helps. I hadn’t thought of an act of sacrifice as being a way to recharge, but I can see how that would inspire and re-motivate.

      Liked by 1 person

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