The Remedy for Depletion: Christ-Centered Wholeness

Written by Krista Hanrahan

May 21, 2024

When the Villains are Beautiful

I’m seeing a growing trend among Catholic mothers. It’s an acceptance, and sometimes glorification, of burn out and depletion – under the disguise of holiness. I see it all too common, whether I’m on the sidelines chatting with another Mom at my son’s soccer game, or on a coaching call with a Catholic mom. Catholic women are unknowingly caught up in a misconception that depletion equals holiness. They are pouring themselves out for their husbands, their children, their family, and their community to the point of sheer exhaustion, depletion, and sadly – burn out. 

Of course they aren’t aware that they’re doing this. They’re just running from one thing to another and don’t even have time to think – let alone pray, sleep, build a routine, or go on a date with their husband! This is of course done with the best of intentions – and more importantly with a misconception that it will lead to greater holiness and fulfillment. Yet, what I think is oftentimes more common, is that this running around leads to a deep ache for more: more time, more prayer, more meaning in her life.

These well intentioned Catholic mothers have a proper understanding of what it means to live a sacrificial life, which includes laying down our lives for others. They also understand the unique privilege of being a woman – to nurture, nourish and give life. As St. Edith Stein said, the feminine heart is a sacred place “in which many other souls may unfold.” This understanding of total self-gift, coupled with an understanding of the uniqueness of the feminine heart in its ability to hold a sacred place for others, is one of the greatest treasures of who we are as women. 

However, is it possible that some women, especially mothers, have taken this understanding of self-sacrifice and nurturing too far? I believe the answer is a resounding yes! This unique gift of the feminine heart needs to be received, cultivated and then given as an outpouring to others. The very gift women are created to give (nurturing and nourishing others) must be received first and foremost in their own hearts and lives. 

I want to offer an approach to holiness that is centered upon Christ-centered wholeness. It is possible to serve your family, grow in virtue, and pursue holiness without neglecting your own needs. I believe a sacrificial life cannot fully reflect Christ if it is born out of obligation or guilt – and certainly not if it leads to depletion and burn out. It more fully imitates Christ when it is done so out of freedom in the context of pursuing a life of Christ-centered wholeness. 

So what does this look like? Women who are pursuing wholeness have created margin in their life for themselves. They have learned the skill of responding vs reacting through practicing emotional command. Their homes are calm with a sense of order and routine. They have made time for rest and reflection and even date night! They have learned how to stop the cycle of proving and pleasing and instead know their strengths and weaknesses. Instead of feeling discouraged when faced with their weaknesses, they know they need to learn new skills in order to grow. Most importantly, women pursuing Christ-centered wholeness are women of prayer, reflection and inspiration. These women don’t remain the same woman month after month, year after year. They are growing in their skill sets, mindsets and exploring the desires of their hearts while pursuing holiness in the context of wholeness.

This is possible because a Christ-centered woman knows that her life, similar to her lungs that enable her to breathe, has a pattern and rhythm to it: an inhaling and exhaling of life. This inhaling of life is so necessary, even in the simplest of ways – prayer, a bath, a phone call to a friend, a coffee date, reading a book, going for a walk/run, date night etc. This “inhaling” of life-giving activities enable women to exhale life and to nourish and nurture their husbands and children and contribute more fully to their communities.

However, the goal of Christ-centered wholeness is not just to expand a woman’s ability to serve others, but also for her to live a life of abundance. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). This sounds wonderful, right? A life of abundance, a life in which a woman has created margin for the simple life-giving activities, as well as for reflecting and dreaming. A life in which a woman can experience wholeness and integration in all of the different areas of her life.

In order to live this Christ-centered wholeness, women need to first create the time, space, and margin to reflect upon what they really want in the different areas of their lives: in their marriages, in their family life, in their relationships, in their home environment and in their contribution to their community. From this place of reflection, women can begin co-creating an abundant life with God that overflows into her marriage, her motherhood, her home and her community. This is a far cry from the exhausted mothers on the sidelines at soccer games.

As women, we must remember that it is in pursuing holiness in the context of Christ-centered wholeness, that we will find more fulfillment in our vocations. When we allow ourselves to intentionally build in time for prayer, reflection and inspiration we are more likely to avoid burnout. It is then that we can rediscover the joy and fulfillment in our roles as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. This is what it means to live a life of abundance and Christ-centered wholeness. 

About the author:

Krista Hanrahan is a Catholic Life and Mindset Coach for women at Little Way Coaching. She coaches Catholic women on various topics, including marriage, motherhood, and living an intentional life. She is also a Wholeness Coach with the Woman School and leads groups of women through the New Woman Masterclass, which is a practical life training course for women helping them to develop the skills and mindset to design a life of Christ-centered wholeness. She is also a contributor to the book, Sacred Wounds: Stories of Redemption, Healing, and Growth. She currently resides in Steubenville, Ohio with her husband, Mark, and their 6 children.





Facebook: Little Way Coaching

Sacred Wounds book link: Amazon 


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