Thursday, March 21, 2013

Running on Empty?

I'm sure you have noticed my blog posts are becoming fewer and farther between. (At least I hope you've noticed.) Lately, my life has been a bit of a blur. Each thing I've done has led right into the next, with little or no time in between. I'm finding that my blog is one of the last things I have been prioritizing; which is really sad to me. I love writing down my thoughts about life and writing about all the things that make up my days.

The problem is, when I write out a blog post it can take me hours to complete it. I write, and rewrite, and read, and reread it many times before I allow myself to click publish. Sometimes I even wait for my husband to proof it for me to make sure that I'm making sense. I have not had an extra two or three hours in my day for quite some time.

Ever since I made the commitment to work with the elementary aged kids, Kidzone, at my church, my blog has been difficult to keep up. The time I normally would put into a post has been instead put into planning a Sunday morning project or a Wednesday evening lesson. I am experiencing great fulfillment right now! I know that God has given me certain creative gifts and abilities for such a time as this. I found my place and it feels incredible.

In order to plan a lesson, I will sit on the couch with my laptop for hours designing worksheets or researching the latest lesson I'll teach. All extra brain function is reserved for those kids. My heart is there with them right now.

I'm not saying I'm giving up on my blog. I'm just letting you know in my absence that's where I'll be.

If you remember at the beginning of the year, God was telling me this was going to be a year of stretching. He wasn't kidding! I have been stretched and pulled thin.

For the past couple months, I have given completely of myself. I have brought children to 10 different Dr. appointments. I have done things I never would have dreamed of doing. I love my children, and I will do whatever it takes to make them healthy and thriving. I collected poop for 72 hours and kept it locked in my refrigerator.

If that's not love, I don't know what it is.

Life began to overwhelm me. Emotionally I was exhausted. I started to lose sight of all that was important to me, and I didn't know where to go, or what to do. I had so many commitments and I was dreading all of them, aside from those required of me for teaching. I knew without a doubt I wanted to be with the kids I taught on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights. Everything else became a chore. I showed up for things for other people's sake, but not my own.

It wasn't until a Sunday morning two weeks ago, during Kidzone, that things began to clear up for me. It may have been a child who asked the question, but the answer went straight to my heart. I knew what my problem was. I was taking naps physically, but emotionally I never slept. The fatigue I felt had a reason beyond not getting enough sleep.

"Why does he get a week off from teaching?"

Our life is like a pitcher of water. When we teach, give advice, help others, or do anything for someone else, we are pouring into them. The more we do things like this, the more we pour out of ourselves, the emptier the pitcher will become. Eventually the water will be gone, and the pitcher will be empty. We only have so much to give. We are not made with eternal water.

What do you do to keep yourself from getting to the bottom of the pitcher? To keep the water from running out?

You fill the pitcher back up. It's that simple. You need other people to be pouring into your pitcher. You cannot survive by completely pouring yourself out.

While I was thoroughly enjoying pouring into the lives of these kids, I wasn't filling up my pitcher fast enough. I was slowly filling it up. It felt very similar to a leaky faucet. Drips were filling up my pitcher and I was immediately trying to pour them back out.

We all need friends and people who will pour into us.

I'm not talking about a person who you mentor. I'm talking about a friend who you will walk away from feeling like your steps are lighter and you have more bounce.

Several months back I had felt drawn to a certain lady in my church. I wanted to become friends with her. In the few conversations we had had, I would always walk away smiling. While all this was going on and my emotional pitcher was running low, God blessed me with a new friend. She approached me and asked if we could be friends and hang out more. I was literally blown away. God is omniscient! Months before I knew I would need a friend, God had the steps in motion.

We are human. We cannot expect ourselves to be everything for everyone all of the time. It's not possible. I was wearing myself out trying to be who I thought God wanted me to be. I was starting to give what I didn't have. I was missing out on the church services I could attend where I would be filled up again because kids were sick at home. I missed almost a month of filling myself back up in a regular church service.

I was even guilty of trying to pour out myself during my "God time." I was reading my Bible so that I could teach better. I was using my prayer time to pray for others, pleading on their behalf. I'm not at all saying this is a bad thing. But it wasn't really pouring back into me. Isn't that a crazy thought? Praying for others can cause fatigue?

I needed to spend time listening to God. No agenda. No lists. No requests. No speaking. Just soaking in God's presence.

The last 5 days have been spent filling my pitcher back up. I have done little for those around me. My anniversary was this past weekend and my husband took me to a hotel for the night. I had no responsibilities. I was childless with the help of a wonderful friend who stayed with my kids. I did no dishes. I prepared no meals. I cleaned nothing.

When I arrived back home, I packed stuff for another trip. The kids and I, along with my mother, drove to Warrensburg, MO for a Children's Literature Festival. (More to come on that later) We spent two days with 9 different authors. Each author had 1 hour of our time. It was water pouring back into my pitcher. I was required to do nothing but show up and listen. I was energized!

Yesterday I spent the day reading, a pastime I had placed on the back burner. I was able to be in an adult church service for the first time in almost a month. My pitcher was full.

We all need balance in our lives. We need to experience the fulfillment that God's plan provides, but we also need to be inspired and encouraged by others. We cannot be expected to do it all and survive on empty. If you are going to be in a position of serving others, you must make sure your own spiritual/emotional pitcher is full. Find people, and go places, where you will be filled. Soak up God's presence.

inspirational quote

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