I came across a new word on Twitter the other day, and now I am trying to use it as much as I can. The word is forswunk. It harkens back to the 13th century and it means to be exhausted from overwork. Holy cow, people! There is a NAME FOR IT. Raise your hand if you are forswunk! The poster went on to make a marvelous joke: being ”forEswunk” is to be exhausted before you even begin. I don’t know who Susie Dent is, but this got an immediate follow from me. She is my soul sister when it comes to having fun with words.
I have been both for- and fore-swunk. The recent push to publish a book, writing these devotionals, plugging away on a huge writing assignment for Cokesbury, attending my alma mater’s Alumni Association Council meetings for several days in Pennsylvania … in addition to my usual church and family responsibilities …I am forswunk! How about you? Are you forswunk? And as Halloween approaches in two days, are you realizing how quickly Christmas follows … so now you are feeling foreswunk as well?
What can we do when forswunkness overtakes us??
Then take things OFF our lists.
Jesus never used the word, but he certainly understood what it was like to be exhausted by overwork. Here is his counsel for you and for me:
Matthew 11 (New Revised Standard Version)
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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.
Come to Jesus. Lay down your burden, lay your head in his lap, and rest. When he invites us to take his yoke rather than the heavy burden we are carrying, it is a reference to how a young ox is paired with older, stronger, more experienced ox. The older ox carries the weight of the yoke and guides the younger ox along. It is only in Jesus that we will find rest for our souls.
Are you tired? Have life, relationships, work, worries, and the troubles of the world got you down? You are not alone. Jesus longs to walk beside you and carry that load for you.
You don’t have to stay forswunk. Jesus is able! Just come.
If you are looking for a way to stave off foreswunkness as your mind turns toward the busy-ness of Christmas, consider this Advent devotional resource. It was deliberately written to encourage all of us to slow down, minimize, re-focus, and appreciate Christmas for what it is … the greatest gift we could ever receive.
Excerpt from ADVENTuring to the Manger:
I wonder what Christmas would look like if we had kept it as just a birthday party for Jesus, instead of the giftpalooza-partypalooza-spendtoomuchpalooza-shoptilyoudroppalooza that it has become. Imagine it: we would wake up, talk about how wonderful Jesus is, plan a nice meal, bake a birthday cake, have the celebration, blow out the candles, and call it a day. And it would truly be just about him. How can we make Christmas just about Jesus again?
But for today, stop, breathe, reevaluate, and prioritize. Jesus’ yoke is easy and light. Come!