Running On Empty
I am driving to work. I am about halfway there when I notice the orange light on my fuel gauge. I am out of gas…or at least very soon will be. I don’t have time to fuel up before work. Where is the nearest gas station anyway? I have cut things too fine (again) so all I can do is hope and pray that I have enough to get me there.
I make it. But sometimes we don’t.
Years ago, before my husband and I got married he drove an old “K” car. This car had a hole in the gas tank and the poor student didn’t have the cash necessary to fix it. The hole was at the $5 mark. He could put in five dollars worth of gas and drive into the city to see me. He would put in another $5 and he could make it home again.
One day while he was visiting we were driving along when he realized he was out of gas. And I mean out of gas. The nearest gas station was a few blocks away. We chugged along, cajoling and pleading with the car, hoping we could make it. We literally coasted into the station where the car shuddered to a stop. At least the walk to fill the gas can was short.
Most of us live our lives like this. I know I do. I chug along hoping to get to my next destination and that I will have the energy to make it. We live life at a run and we don’t know how to slow down.
In his fabulous little book “Crazy Busy” author Kevin DeYoung offers advice on how to slow down and make life more manageable. Mostly it involves using a very short word: No. “No I am sorry I can’t serve on the board at this time”, “You may be in two extra-curricular activities this term”, “I need some time to myself right now”.
It involves choosing priorities, lowering expectations, and rearranging our schedules as best we can to build in margin and room to breathe.
Figuring out what fills your tank and what depletes it is essential.
I need: time to myself, time with my family and friends, rest, exercise, and spirituality to stay sane.
I don’t need: rush, stress, sleep deprivation, or isolation.
Knowing myself helps me to put in the things I need and to push out the things I don’t. In a perfect world, I would always succeed. This is not a perfect world and all I (or anyone) can do is try.
As for me, I am looking forward to a walk with my husband after work and maybe curling up for a movie with the kids. The laundry, and the myriad of other things I need to do, can wait.