To: The Weary World   /   Aimey McClanahan

To: The Weary World / Aimey McClanahan

It was December 2021, Phillip and I were on a breakfast date at Cracker Barrel.  When we finished our breakfast and headed to the gift shop, we saw a friend who was having breakfast with a group of ladies.  While we were looking in the gift shop, she came to say hey and check in on me.  During our few minute conversation I broke down, which was pretty common during that season, and in her encouragement she said to me, “Do not grow weary in doing good.”  

Our family was getting close to the end of our first foster care placement.  I was worn out in every sense of the word. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. My face and body revealed the stress and heavy burdens from those 17 months.  Back in July of 2020 our family said yes to taking in a sibling group of three little boys.  At the time they were 3, 4, and 5 and our kids were 12 and 23.  When we entered the world of foster care, we had no idea what we were getting into.  Like so many other things in life, no amount of training or classes can fully prepare you for what's ahead.  

There was physical exhaustion, which could be expected with three little ones, but my 40 year old self didn’t know what to do: washing and folding never ending loads of laundry, cleaning up pee from around the toilet and off of the wall, sweeping up sand and pebbles dumped out of shoes, climbing in and out of the back of our minivan to buckle and unbuckle kids (I would like to give a quick shout out for minivans, they are awwesommme). At one point we had four kids in four different schools.  I was constantly on the go and the chaos didn’t end until they were in bed.  I know many moms and dads who are in that season now, or have been at one time. 

There was mental exhaustion. Figuring out the daily and weekly schedule: assessments, appointments, home visits from case managers, paperwork, projects, t-ball and cheer.  The boys' speech was not good so it took a lot of concentration to figure out exactly what they were saying; we often had to ask the oldest to help us out.  And, it was pretty much impossible for them to talk to me without starting every single sentence with, “Mrs. Annie.”  (They couldn’t say “Aimey”). “Mrs. Annie, he hit me.” “Mrs. Annie, what we eatin?” “Mrs. Annie, I have good day.” “Mrs. Annie, I need to poop.” “Mrs. Annie, what bout me?”  But what had me the most mentally worn out were all of the uncertainties that come along with fostering.  How long would the boys be with us?   When would they have their next visit with mom?  How would they be after the visit?  Would parental rights be terminated?  Were we supposed to adopt them?  If we didn’t adopt them, who would?   We worried about Emma, our biological child, during that time.  How was it all affecting her?  Was she feeling neglected?  Were we spending enough time with her?  Were we unaware of anything because we were so overwhelmed?  I worried about Phillip and the stress of his job, then coming home to chaos.  Were we spending enough time together? I worried about what my day would look like.  It was hard to plan for much while the kids were at school. I never knew when I would get a call to go pick one up because they bit another student or cleared off a teacher's desk in a rage, again.

There was emotional exhaustion like I never experienced before.  There was a lot of loss and pain during those 17 months. I carried some of my own personal losses, as well as the losses of the boys.  It was a few months in when the weight of it all really started affecting me. I broke down many, many times.  I mourned the loss of my old life.  I missed it being just Phillip, Emma, and I.  I missed our house not having toys everywhere.  I missed the quiet.  Oh, how I missed the quiet. I missed the young adults group we led. I missed the job that I quit. In March of 2021, I lost my dad. I got a call from my brother one night letting me know he had just received a call that our dad had taken his life. Our relationship with our dad was estranged so I had mourned the loss of the dad I once knew many years before, but it was still a loss.  One I still haven’t fully dealt with.  

But, what wore me out the most, physically, mentally, and emotionally, was the weight of the boy's story.  Thankfully, theirs doesn’t consist of abuse like so many, but they experienced so much change, abandonment and loss. As I sit here typing, thinking through the lives of these sweet little boys, the weight of it is still so heavy. To try to even begin to explain the weight of it all has me emotionally wrecked and seems too much to bear.  But I have to remind myself that I am not meant to carry the weight of it all. 

During those 17 months, I wanted to give up so many times.  I wanted to throw in the towel, call it quits and just run away from everything. I didn’t hide my struggles when people asked how I was doing.  Anyone remotely close to me was aware that I was OVER IT!  I knew that we were doing what God called us to do. Us as a family, to be a family to these boys, but also, us as the body of Christ, to take care of those in need.  I also knew that I was not following God with the right attitude. I was very rarely joyful. I was not fully dependent on God for strength, comfort and peace.  I was pretty consistent in my quiet time with God, but I was still worn out and discontent.  I cried out many times to God.  I really tried to give it all to Him, all of my anxiety, frustration, and resentment.  I wanted my comfort and contentment to be in Him and not in my circumstances.  But I continued to try to control it all with planning and worrying.  I continued to allow my joy to be determined by what came at me each day.

I want to go back to the verse that my friend shared with me in the middle of the Cracker Barrel gift shop …

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at thew proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give.”                                                     

Galatians 6:9


I would love to tell you how I succeeded in the verse above and share with you the three simple steps to get you through your weary season.  I would love to wrap it up in a pretty little package with a perfectly tied bow and personally hand it to you with your name written across the top of it.  But … I can’t. Why? Because I am still worn out, I am still struggling.  And, there isn’t a simple little checklist for success.  I can, however, share with you some of God’s truths for the worn out and weary. 

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”             

Isaiah 40:29-31

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”       

Matthew 11:28-30


“I will fully satisfy the needs of those who are weary and fully refresh the souls of those who are faint.”                       

Jeremiah 31:25


“To whom He said, ‘This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,’ And, ‘This is the refreshing’; Yet they would not hear.”  

Isaiah 28:12

“For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not.”   

Isaiah 30:15


As much as we want three simple steps to overcome our weariness, it really comes down to one thing.  Our Creator, who is also our Sustainer, simply calls us towards Him.  He wants us to hand over everything that weighs us down, all of our sin and worries.  He is our rest.  He is our strength.  He will satisfy and refresh our souls.  So why do we struggle?  Why are we so weighed down?  It’s not because we don’t have an answer, it’s because we don’t listen.  He wants us to return to Him, rest in Him, wait for Him. 

This Christmas season, as you are exchanging gifts, remember the best gift of all.  It is not one in a neat package tied up with a pretty bow, but One who was carried by an unwed teenager, born in a manger, and wrapped in rags.  It’s a gift of Peace and Rest. And the only gift He wants from you is for you to respond to Him.  

“O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
'Til He appears and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born.”




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