Running on Empty

“Lord, I’ve done it again. I’ve taken on too much.

 Promising the world to everyone, without regard for myself.

My tank has run dry Lord, but I haven’t fulfilled all of my promises.”

Can you imagine driving your car with an empty fuel tank?  Hmmm, neither can I.

It just wouldn’t budge an inch, would it? For many of us, myself included, we are constantly trying to ‘run on empty’. We take on an amazing workload and make sincere promises to lots of people, without considering whether or not it is humanly possible to deliver on everything. We become stressed, short-tempered and anxious, mixed up with a bunch of other emotions, not limited to sad, guilty, ashamed and overwhelmed.

Why do we do it?

Personally, I know because of my Bipolar disorder, that I can be up there with the birds, singing my own tune one moment, and down in the depths of despair the next.

However, I believe that we all can suffer from overload and mood swings; we don’t necessarily need to suffer from a disorder to over-commit ourselves. Often when we are happy it is so easy to take on the world, promise the world; but when we are feeling down or just a little unwell, we are likely to question our promises.

The other day I woke up later than usual. My head was pounding out a tribal dance and I just felt so tired. There was washing to do, beds to make, dinner to prepare, study to do with assignments due, writing commitments and errands to run. As well as friends I had promised to call up, coffee dates that were stockpiling because I never had a moment to spare, a garden in desperate need of weeding, books I wanted to read – and the list goes on.

You see with me, it is all or nothing; I don’t like to be still. Also, I like everything to be perfectly done – clean house, clean clothes, everything in its place. I like everyone around me to be happy, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to make that happen. So on this particular day, I sat down in my armchair with a nice hot cup of tea which HoneyBun had prepared for me, with two little headache tablets alongside the rest of my daily medication. As I sat there I began thinking about all the things I really ought to be doing that day, then all of a sudden I heard this little voice inside my head – why are you worrying so much? Does it matter if you don’t get anything done today? Will the world come to an end? Is the sun likely to rise again tomorrow morning? 

As I sat there relaxing in my comfortable chair, I realised that nothing really mattered if I wasn’t happy. I was truly running on empty, and that emptiness meant that I didn’t have enough energy to help anyone anyway. With that emptiness, I felt so weak that I was barely able to help myself. Why was I so exhausted?

Do you ever feel so tired that you just couldn’t be bothered to even get dressed?  Is that friend still waiting at the bookshop café for you to arrive because you were so worn out you completely forgot about the appointment? – or maybe you don’t even know what day it is. I know I’ve had moments like this – frequently actually.

Sitting in my chair I could now feel the stillness. The tablets and warm cuppa had begun to melt through my pain. Part of me was rationalising and saying, come on get up, there are chores to be done. Then once more I heard that little voice of reason – be still. At that moment it occurred to me that if I didn’t look after myself, then I wouldn’t be of any good use to anyone else.

Have you ever heard of the saying that ‘you must be empty to be full’?  I heard it once before and thought – how silly, how can you be full when you are empty?

The point is that when we are so full of thoughts, ideas, plans, goals, and a plethora of things that must be done, we are actually running on empty.

We must take that time each day to be still, even if we only have ten minutes available to us. That quiet, still time is God’s time. He wants to have that precious time with us, as much as we need that time with Him. During the quiet times, Jesus tops up our tanks and gives us wonderous energy to continue on with the other less important things. I say less important because what could be more important than making sure that we are properly equipped for our journey?

We simply do not need to be perfect and pleasing to everyone all of the time – we can’t be anyway because we are human. We need to prioritise everything, and top of the list must always be God our Heavenly Father, followed a close second by ourselves. Yes, ourselves – we cannot look after others and love others unless we love and care for ourselves first, after Jesus of course …..

…… and sitting quietly with the Lord is the best way to care for ourselves, to recharge and top up our spiritual tanks. So next time you are feeling overwhelmed by life, empty your mind, be still, listen to the whispers of God’s Holy Spirit, let Jesus fill up your heart with love, rest your body and mind, and feel your soul being filled with spiritual strength.

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
But you would not,

~ Isaiah 30:15


“The Lord will fight for you, 

and you have only to be silent.”                       

 ~ Exodus 14:14


Originally posted on Just Jo’Anne on August 5th 2015


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