Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is one of those diseases that defies reason. Otherwise healthy people suffer this debilitating condition, some over many years. While some people maintain, “It’s all in their heads,” others look for physiological reasons. The truth is it’s both. This blog won’t address the physiological side – there’s plenty of that available. What I want to examine is why and how deep-seated emotional wounds hold CFS victims in their grip, and offer some plausible solutions that would help those affected toward freedom and healing.
As with most psychosomatic conditions, the overstressed mind creates a seemingly never-ending drain on the one suffering with this malady. Frankly, some people are so fatigued and weary that they can’t get out of bed, and if they do, they drag through life day after day, year after year, hoping for a breakthrough. Their jobs suffer, relationships lose their passion, and any kind of service to others seems like an ordeal. As usual, everyone has answers. “You just need to exercise.” “It’s your diet.” “Take this pill.” “You need to simply think of others more than yourself.” “You just need to seek the Lord.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with any of these suggestions. They are usually offered with the best intentions, but quite often none of these suggestions works the way we want them to. And if they do, they are short lived, and those of us who KNOW firsthand the effects of CFS find ourselves once again facing our energy deficits.
In reality CFS is very hard to get a grip on. One may have some good days where bursts of energy press them forward to accomplish things like a whirling dervish. The next day they may feel like picking up a pencil is akin to lifting a 150-pound barbell. Thinking may become heavy with great difficulty (fog brain) because they’re unable to focus on the subject at hand. While some may find the inner strength to push on, others fold up thinking their lives are destined to be lived out at a subpar level.
Like anything else, understanding the underlying reasons is half the war in overcoming CFS. Where does this energy drain come from? Is it genetic? Just an emotional sapping? Depression? Is it demonic? In all likelihood CFS is caused by a number of factors, which is most often compounded over time. Let’s consider a few of the nitty gritty ones.
Deep Disappointment with Life
“Expectation is the root of all heartache.”
- William Shakespeare
Chief among the “debilitators,” is major disappointment with life. We may have had great expectations for success in a certain field, a certain romance – or more than one — or accomplishing something extraordinary, but as this Scripture says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Cyclical failure becomes pronounced because toiling for that goal, as others do quite successfully, doesn’t make a dent for one with CFS. Exhaustion sets in, and despair almost becomes a way of life. Exhaustion is often accompanied by anger because constantly banging one’s head against an impenetrable wall called “hope deferred” seems like a cruel investment of time. We may hear great sermons on hope, which may carry some through to greater heights and success in life, while to the one with CFS, mountain climbing may wind up in one more exhausting trip around the Mt. Sinai.
The American way is one of performance. We strive to please by getting all A’s, going to the top of the corporate ladder or being the best Christian by striving all the time to please God. Expectations drive us – perceived expectations of what God wants for us or from us, others’ expectations, and our own, none of which may be reality, become a snare. Too much to do and too little time to do it. Without a wise balance, we may find ourselves reading too much, working out too much, staying too late at the office, praying too much or attempting to become “God’s Answer Man or Woman” for others’ questions that would drive Solomon up a wall. The problem with all this is, besides wearing us out even more, striving doesn’t bring the promised rest and joy, at least for the believer. The end of the road of performance is bouts with depression and anxiety because of the incessant feeling that we’re not accomplishing all the things we’re supposed to do. The Psalmist wrote, “Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down.” All this leads to anxiety-filled sleep causing the body to tire far too easily.
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s a Life Sucker!
To be honest with ourselves, we need to face it that some people are life suckers, energy drainers who, usually unbeknownst to them, are well-meaning but excel at taking whatever energy we may possess that day and disposing of it down a soul-sucking hole. You know who I’m referring to: People who can talk under water! I used to have a lawyer friend who would call me at the worst times and drone on about every case on her ledger. Her opening and closing lines were, “I just called to see how you were doing.” Uh huh. One time she talked for 45 minutes straight. Another time during one of her talk-at-thons, I put my cell phone on my chest – with my speaker on — and went to sleep. (Ok, forgive me for being rude.) This is not my habit with people, believe me, but I woke up to hear, “Joe, Joe, Joe…” The thing about these folks is they have more energy than should be legal, plus they’re adept at stealing yours. Avoidance is the best rule here. Another name for these folks is predator. According to the English-Oxford Dictionary, a predator is “A person who ruthlessly exploits others.” In our example, the predator feeds on others in a selfish manner pulling the life force out of them through their refined art of yapping.
I’m a Christian counselor/teacher, and I love helping people through their difficulties, but nothing irks a counselor more than a counselee who wants you to “fix them.” They often don’t want to expend the time, prayer and God-seeking it takes to overcome their dilemma. The Bible says concerning these people: “He who is loose and slack in his work is brother to him who is a destroyer and he who does not use his endeavors to heal himself is brother to him who commits suicide” (Prov. 18:19 Amplified). Again, these kinds of people are whiners but not winners.
TAKERS & givers
Much like life suckers are TAKERS. TAKERS are people with whom you’re in relationship who constantly take of you but don’t give back. By this I don’t mean they don’t share time, money or resources, but they won’t share their heart. You may care deeply or be in love with a TAKER, but there won’t be ROI (Return on Investment). These are usually nice and highly attractive good people, but they are also highly protective, having been hurt by others in similar circumstances. If you’re unwise, you will constantly give to a TAKER but never be satisfied. In other words, the relationship is unequal in many respects. Like the other examples, TAKERS will exhaust you.
Fixated on the Past
Regret has to be one of the greatest stumbling blocks to anyone, especially someone with CFS. Looking back to what should have been is a waste of time AND energy. If something can be redeemed with reasonable effort, that’s cool. However, in some cases untold hours, days and years are spent thinking “if only.” That emotional drain deflates whatever optimistic bubble you have left to give it one more try. Scripture exhorts to “Forget what lies behind.” This is easier said than done, but why not give it a shot? The repair job is NOT mentally blocking out our pain but dealing with it through inner healing and deliverance. Coupled with the fixation on the past is the fear of moving forward. Fear paralyzes. You can bet your bottom dollar that your God-established destiny will be hindered by fear, that is, human fear and the spirit of fear. The past, as awful as it is in some cases, is more comfortable to some than embracing the future. It’s like sitting in a jail cell while lying on a comfortable bed.
We live in a negative world. It’s a fallen place where fallen people live. Their attitudes about life can eat your lunch and leave no tip. I was waiting patiently in line at the post office recently, while the person next to me complained about everything she could think of. Seriously, I couldn’t imagine being around this person for more than five minutes, and the PO was jammed with people with their packages. She complained about Alabama (this is new), the post office rates (it was Trump’s fault), the fact she had to take care of her 90 year-old parents and couldn’t move to the beach to live out her (negative) life. I couldn’t wait for her to be waited on and hit the door. Statistically, 62 percent of the words people use are negative compared to the rest being positive (do the math). Incidentally, long-term memory dwells on the negative.
Giving Away Your Power
Control by others, constantly yielding to others’ demands without a mind of your own, and yes, co-dependence is an energy sucker. Although there is certainly merit in submission to proper authority, being used by others for their benefit is a drain. This often takes the form of CFSers “being nice no matter what.” If you sincerely study the life of Jesus, you’ll conclude the only time He gave up His power was to please His Father. He never allowed Himself to be used by others. He served people, but He was not a rug for anyone! One of the most fearful words in some people’s vocabulary is “no.” Can you say “no” without feeling guilty?
I use this word in the negative sense, where rituals, rules and formality have replaced a spiritual life found in Jesus Christ alone. Religion can kill ya! Without the life-giving Spirit of power and presence of the Holy Spirit, church services become a fact-giving, historical lesson about how we should behave and live. No thank you. The Bible is clear that the “letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives life.” It’s beyond me how Christians can sit in a lifeless church Sunday after Sunday, some of which could be compared to the Rotary Club on a good day. R-O-T-A-R-Y that spells Rotary. R-E-L-I-G-I-O-N spells boredom and bondage.
End Times’ Weariness
In prophesying concerning people in the End Days, Daniel said that Satan would attempt to “wear out the saints.” The phrase “wear out” in the Hebrew language means “to harass constantly.” As we enter that period (most would agree we’re already there), we certainly can expect greater spiritual warfare and thus harassment. The constant barrage of bad news is enough not to mention spiritual attacks. Whew!
A Come to Jesus Meeting
I know this became an office slogan for exhorting another worker, but the truth is, we all need this one for LIFE! The Master told weary Jews and others laboring under the heavy yoke of Pharisaic rules that the answer for their tiredness was to “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) (Matt. 11:28-29 Amplified).
There are several key points here: 1) He didn’t say “go to church,” and you’ll find rest but “Come to me.” 2) He didn’t say “Learn ABOUT me” but “Learn of me.” He said to learn who I am, what I’m like, experience me! 3) He didn’t say, “Take on more church duties, which can be a burdensome yoke but take on His yoke, which is a grace yoke. When you’re in it you know it! At that moment in time (and we yearn for more consistency), rest is found. The key is to learn to bring whatever burdens we have and drop them at Jesus’ feet. This requires taking time to get in His presence, still our hearts and casting our cares on Him (I Peter 5:7).
Summarizing a Fix for CFS:
- Be healed from deep disappointments life.
- Stop all performance-based living.
- Avoid life suckers.
- Be wary of TAKERS.
- Get over the past.
- Be positive without being ridiculous. Some things in life are NOT positive!
- Take your power back.
- Focus on grace-filled spirituality.
- Understand and deal with spiritual harassment.
- Spend time giving Jesus your troubles and casting your weariness on Him.
Joseph Beckham is the author of Overcoming Bipolar Disorder & Other Mental Difficulties: A Christian Perspective.
- Get the print version today at https://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Bipolar-Mental-Difficulties-Paperback/dp/1365045684/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1486421959&sr=8-2&keywords=joseph+beckham%2C+bipolar+book
- Joe is also the author of Deeper Water for Thirsty Souls – http://amzn.com/1493781286