Running on Empty
Hi, my name is Micah. I am super strong and pretty much perfect all the time. I am reliable and independent. I never need anyone’s help and I never, ever let anyone down.
I know. That is completely ridiculous, but this is truly the standard I have set for myself. And not only is it preposterous, it is exhausting. So exhausting in fact, that just this week, I snapped at my husband in an overwhelmingly stress trap I had set for myself.
Yesterday, I lost it at a tiny statement he made. I was neither kind, nor gentle, and certainly losing my cool is indicative that I had lost all self-control. You see, we have a big weekend coming up. Our daughter is in the school musical and all three sets of grandparents decided they would travel to our neck of the woods to see it the same weekend. It is also the same weekend we are going with the women’s network that and having our Bi-weekly Bible study I lead on Friday’s. And if that were not enough, early on Monday, I am flying to Denver for work, which means I need to plan for the week for the family and pack myself. Oh, and I almost forgot one. I have my first writing piece due for my writing critique group that Monday as well.
To say the least, I am stressed over all these commitments falling in the span of four days. And when I realized that all of these events are culminating, along with the very real likelihood that these wonderful visiting Grandparents will probably want to see the family beyond the showtimes, as do we, my heart rate rose, and stress consumed me. My only thought to manage it was to try and schedule a plan to make it all work.
So, the moment my go with the flow, opposite personality husband asked me if we really need to plan the whole weekend, as I was trying to go over the schedule with him, I blew a fuse. Yes, I ranted, with my dare you challenge me voice and my finger wagging at him. “Yes we do, but never you mind, I will plan the whole thing and you better go along with it when it gets here”, is the basic gist of what I roared, though I probably added some choice words I won’t repeat here.
The truth is I am already overly worried, empty and resentful over this weekend that is more than a week away. I am not even looking forward to it for all the overwhelm and that is terrible because it could be so fun. In fact, I want it to be a joy filled weekend for everyone involved.
What I need to admit, however, is that this burnout is not because of this upcoming weekend alone. I know in my heart that I realized this weekend’s schedule already precariously close to the end of my rope. I have not been abiding in God for few weeks now. I have been too busy to make time for Him and coming up with a million excuses why I cannot take a break in the middle of my workday with Him, let alone a full day of rest. I learned last season these breaks and rests are vital to my workaholic nature, and yet I have not been doing them again.
See friends, abiding is a choice I have daily. Abiding is a verb. It requires action. My action. My choosing. And I need to create the unforced rhythms of God’s grace that are available to me by choosing to make time to be refueled by God. As it states in our key verse, apart from God, I produce nothing good (John 15:5). Obviously, my overwhelm and overreaction are evidence of this truth. The only thing I am producing by striving in my own strength right now is burn out for me and bad fruit for everyone else.
So how do I reconcile this overwhelming weekend back to a good rhythm?
Two ways. First, I need to get filled up before it gets here. I am not strong enough to face a weekend with this much to do on an empty soul. I need to be filled with God’s love in order to pour out love. But the only way I can be filled with that love is to choose to abide in His love and not the busyness surrounding me. Luckily, I have seven days still to choose God before this weekend arrives.
Secondly, I need to admit I need help. I need help from my family and friends in the form of understanding to the boundaries I will have to set, and the commitments I need to cancel in order to get some rest in on this weekend as well. I cannot possibly do all of what happened to accumulate in this four-day span and try to meet my own ridiculous standard to never let anyone down.
Most of all, I need to admit I need help from God. I need to be filled back up with God’s love in order to pour back out love again. I drained my tank trying to meet my perfection standards and now I don’t have enough to even be nice to those who love me. The only way to be filled again is to abide in the love that tells me I do not have to be perfect to be loved, and that in my weakness His strength is made perfect (2 cor 12:9). Not the other way around.
These actions are choosing to abide, and they are my choice to make. Certainly, He will be found when I choose to seek Him over my constant striving and my own limited strength. He is ever faithful, and thank God His faithfulness does not depend on me (2 Tim 2:13)
Questions to pray on:
How are you really doing right now? Are you a little weary with the upcoming busyness you know the holidays will bring?
Are you striving in your own strength? How is that going?
Are you creating unforced rhythms by making room for God?
Oh Lord we need you. Forgive us for feeling like we need to muster up our own strength for this life when you have so freely offer us sufficiency in you. Help us to slow down and make space for you. Help us abide in you, by actively making time to be with you. In Jesus name. Amen.