Ever have a moment that just kind of slaps you in the face? I had one tonight. Considering everything going on right now (oh, and I didn't mention that I'm writing another play this summer. ha!), to say that I've been stressed is an understatement. And then within moments of the start of his message tonight, the speaker asked a question.
"Are you running on empty?"
It was all I could do not to jump up and shout, "YES!!!!" (I didn't, since that would have helped confirm the suspicion many people have that I am indeed crazy.) But wow... yes! It's so easy, especially when you work in full-time ministry, to do exactly that. Running on empty is tricky too, because when you're "running" around doing "church-y" things (you read that in a Nacho voice, right?) then it's tempting to deceive yourself into thinking that running on empty is okay. I mean, you're exhausted, crabby, and your family is scared to talk to you, but you're doing it all for the right reasons, bless God! (Right?)
I have been running on empty, and when I say running I mean it almost literally. There is just so much going on right now, as is the custom for the month of May if you're an educator, but between school, church, and my home, I have my plate full with a bowl on the side and a cup that I'm carrying between my teeth (like when you want to try everything at a potluck, you know?).
Go, go, go. Teach, teach, teach. Sing, sing, sing. Cook, cook, cook. (Fine, not really.) Write, write, write. Blog, blog, blog. Clean, clean, clean. (Okay, maybe one clean would have sufficed.) Worry, worry, worry. (Worry some more.) Plan, plan, plan. Run, run, run.
Tell me I'm not the only one who does all of this. Like I said, when staying busy doing the "work of the Lord," it's easy to convince myself that I've got it together. But being busy does not equal being filled with the Spirit... not at all! I am only one person with very real limits, and without filling myself up with the Spirit and joy of God, then all my running is going to eventually land me on the side of the road waving for help (so to speak... maybe even literally. Who really knows, with me.)
I know that I'm young and supposedly should be full of energy (so says everyone older than me) and I know that if I had only half my responsibilities plus one child I'd be a million times busier than I am now, but stress is relative. And your kind of stress and mine are different, so while I'm qualifying my own I do realize that it's okay for me to feel overwhelmed. But thanks to the message tonight, I was reminded that I don't have to accomplish everything on my own. What a relief, especially considering how poorly I would be able to do such a task. Busy is not bad. But, busy without staying "full" can get bad really quickly. As our pastor said tonight, "The easiest way to avoid getting to empty is to stay full." I try to remind myself of this principle, and, in fact, even have written prominently in my home,
Not my best cursive, but still...
...even with this reminder of God's promise to ease our burdens where I can see it with my little blind eyes every day, I tend to forget, and I am so very grateful to have been reminded tonight.
If you're running on empty (or you're like my mom and it's BELOW empty, because you like to challenge yourself and your vehicle), remember that there's no shame in taking a breather and allowing yourself to be renewed by a fresh helping of grace. In fact, there's everything RIGHT about it. Whether you're a teacher (fist bump!), a mom, a dad, an office worker, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker... we all have stress and it's just as impossible to get everything done on our own as it is to drive a car on empty. But since it's "ask, and ye shall receive" and not "whine but refuse to ask and ye shall receive," then I think it's safe to say that I have to remember to ASK the Lord for help, wisdom, self-control, patience, etc. and not just wish I had more of those things.
So, I will pray for you to stay filled up and you pray for me, and we will make it through these next few crazy weeks, together, okay? Yes, wonderful. I knew I could count on you. =)