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Compassion Fatigue Gets a Punch in the Face

My blog friend, Love, celebrated her birthday yesterday.

Some people don't tell their birthday wishes in fear those wishes "won't come true." Some people hint around for weeks or months or slyly leave gift idea lists out.

Love posted her wish right on her blog.

Love recently returned from a trip to Uganda where, among her many adventures, she saw that the people of a village called Busoga drink water that looks like this:

They use it to cook with, bathe in, drink from, and their animals drink from it (and likely pee in it), as well.

So, for her birthday, Love wants a well. For the 550-ish people in Busoga, because, in Love's words,

[God's] word is really complex, but really simple, too. Love God.  Love others as yourself.  How much would I love to drink that water? how much would I love to serve a glass of that to our children? i don't want to drink that water and they shouldn't have's as simple as that.

I read her wish. I read all of Love's posts because they have been a tool to open my world and change my perspective.

But I have to tell you something.

My first reaction to Love's request was, "no."

No, I can't do everything. No, this opportunity isn't for me. No, I don't want to participate.

Mostly valid responses-there is nothing wrong with knowing where to stop or when to pass up an opportunity in favor of another.

Sometimes it's important, even- I really want to do a 31 Bits party in time for holiday shopping, but I know I can't do it on my own due to the upcoming arrival of my baby boy. Can you imagine if I pushed through and did it anyway (in just a few weeks)? Not a good idea this time around.  Not every opportunity is for me- or you. We can't do everything.

But when I say no to something that seems like a good thing to do, I think it's important to determine why. There are good reasons (like a healthy family environment)...and there are not-so-good reasons.

Like I just don't want to. Which is often another way to say there is so much wrong with the world, so many needs to be met, so many causes and passions and fundraising going on...that I'm feeling overwhelmed. So overwhelmed that I'm just going to sit down and veg out right now.

With the rise of technology, we find ourselves piled with info, needs, requests, ways to make the world a better place. Not all of them use our money wisely. We get discouraged. Sometimes it's hard to see how we can really make a difference. It's just so much. Compassion fatigue happens. It's real.

I've come across good articles about overcoming it here and here.  My means of overcoming it? Asking questions. Questions like...

Why don't I want to get participate in this? (Because there are good and not-so-good reasons.)

What is the money and/or time requested being used for? (Because there things I am not willing to give money to.)

Do I have the money and/or time to donate?

Do I believe this cause will meet true needs?

Is this a wise use of my resources?

Questions like these help me process why I do what I do.

Which is what I did with Love's request.

In that process, my heart changed. I decided that this was an opportunity I most certainly want to be in on.

I may pass up another opportunity in the future- and that's okay if my heart is right in that decision.

But this one? I'm in.

If you want to get in on it, too, please click here for more information.

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  1. Hey Sarah! I have felt overwhelmed too and wanting to do a 31 Bits Party for Christmas. I have been so exhausted with so much going on, and guess what? Charity Dauberman and her friend Rhonda are planning on doing a 31 Bits Party! She asked me for info and I sent it onto her. I think this is so important, but realize I just can’t do it all; I can encourage others to c ome along and help though. You did that with showing me this cause and party. Just so you know, if you don’t get to do this, the word is getting out because you started it. If I don’t get to do one, maybe someone else will do it because Charity did.
    Another thought altogether: would you like me to host one and you can help? Or even come and invite people? You could come and go as you please and maybe we can combine our efforts! Just a thought.
    Love you.

  2. Oooh, Sarah, stop telling me things I need to hear when I don’t want to listen.

    I was just thinking about this last night. I hear all the time that “we” (whoever we is) need to learn how to say no, that it’s okay to say no, that “we” can’t do it all. But I wonder, these days, if I’ve learned that lesson entirely too well? It’s important to remember that we also need to say yes–sometimes, to some things.

    I like the questions you ask. Thank you for this today. ^_^

  3. Katie, thank YOU for your encouragement today:-).

  4. Mom, I know we talked about this already. I just wanted to thank you for your sweet comment:-). I love you!

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