“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 (NIV)
Have you ever had to deal with an energy vampire? Healthline.com states, “Energy vampires are people who — sometimes intentionally — drain your emotional energy. They feed on your willingness to listen and care for them, leaving you exhausted and overwhelmed.”
Energy vampires often drain the life out of you. Anyone can be an energy vampire, even and especially those we care for the most. When we care deeply for people, we may be conflicted about how to respond to them. On the one hand, we may be burden with all the negative energy they bring, feeling drained and depleted after dealing with them. On the other hand, as Christians, we don’t want to turn them away or be guilty of not being a good relative, friend, colleague, church mate or citizen. Where do we draw the line? How do we continue to maintain energy and still be a loving presence in their lives?
One suggestion is to manage our time with them. Perhaps the problem is not their negativity but when they call or how long the conversations last. Scheduling time with them and sticking to that schedule may be all that is needed to manage their crisis moments. Sometimes just scheduling an hour per week with people who are in need is all they need.
Another suggestion may be to confront their behavior and let them know its impact. Perhaps the person is unaware that they are so draining. When any of us are having bad days or bad seasons, we can lean too heavily on others without knowing it. Sometimes the person just needs to be made aware of their impact on us.
Third, it may actually be time to take fewer calls or to stop taking calls for a while. As disciples of Christ, this can be very difficult. Being filled with compassion for others often causes us to question the need for a break from them. We can’t do it. We must take a break. We must put on our oxygen mask first. The oxygen mask may be taking time for self instead of pouring into others.
Finally, sometimes we can’t avoid energy vampires. Sometimes, it is our job to deal with them. When we are called by God to deal with energy vampires, the most important thing to do is stay connected to the source.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus reminds us that when we are burden with the problems of life, even the problems of others, we can come to him for rest and restoration. When you are caring for others, begin and end with Christ Jesus. Spending time in his loving care is the best way to be prepared for ministry to others.
Jesus spent time with the Father often and we should often spend time with God; so, we are prepared for spending time with others. Being connected to God’s life-giving energy is one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves and to others.