Tired of living on empty?

by Barb Roose

Fifteen years ago, I lived on empty. Stressful job. Small kids. My issues. Marriage.

If I was a car, my gas gauge warning light was ALWAYS on.

Don’t you hate it when that warning light is on? My gas gauge warning light always comes on when I’m in the middle of doing other things – buy groceries, running errands, picking up kids. That warning light pressures me because fuel is important, but so is everything else in our lives.  

How often did I keep around pushing the limits of a near-empty gas tank in order to keep continue trying to accomplish other things?

I used to live the same way.  

My “warning-light-life” (say that three times fast) had become a painful and pitiful way of life.

When I ran out of energy at the end of each day, everyone in my household knew about it. Short temper. Snippy Words. Poor listening. Fitful sleep filled with nightmares about unfinished to-do lists and often dreams of running away from it all.

Yes, I was a Christian and I loved my family. I knew that I was blessed. But I for a long time, I was an-empty Christian. Instead of being filled with the Fruit of the Spirit, the only thing that I was full of was exhaustion. 

I’m pretty sure that someone out there can relate to what I’m saying…

 If your well-being or energy could be measured like a gas gauge, how much gas do you have today?

If you’ve got a full tank, you’re giving thanks right now. You know that it’s not easy keeping a full tank, but bless you to being out there as a beacon of hope that other women can see.

But, if you’re riding your warning light or if you’re out of gas, you may feel a combination of guilt and desperation right now. You feel guilty because you don’t have any more to give, but everyone seems to need you. You feel desperate because you don’t want to live this way anymore BUT you also aren’t sure if you can change (and you aren’t even sure what change is.)

Sweet sister, I know your kind of tired. I know your tears.

I may not know your circumstances, but I know that you don’t want to let the people down in your life. I know that you believe that if you fill in all of the gaps, then that’s how you show you love them.

I know.

I thought that I was supposed to be the gap-filler, too. If there was a gap between someone’s need and their ability, I thought that loving them meant that I should fill in that gap with my energy, my money or time. After all, if I loved them, then I should be there for them no matter when they called or no matter what I was doing, right?

Here’s something that I want to share with you, but not all of you will agree with me. But, keep reading anyways:

Love may mean sacrifice, but love isn’t suicidal.

Love IS sacrificial.  

But we’ve got to know the difference between loving sacrifice and killing ourselves when caring for people.

Jesus didn’t run after people wearing himself out trying to fix their problems. We never read about the Savior of the world worn out after serving people. Jesus let people be responsible for themselves. When we show love through sacrifice, our effort is to bring hope to others, but it also should bless us, too. Our sacrifice should satisfy us, not suck us dry.

What do I mean when I say that love is suicidal? Talking about suicide is a tender conversation. If you’ve lost someone to suicide, my heart breaks for you. It’s devastating when a loved one reaches a place where he or she comes to believe that there was no hope left.

Have you worn out, ruined or even killed your health, career, emotional well-being or financial security to try to rescue someone who refuses to be responsible for themselves?

You’re trying to help people, but is it wise to ruin your health, finances or well-being to try to save someone else’s? Only Jesus saves. We can’t. But, without meaning to, you may be sending the message that if you don’t step in and fix their lives, then they have no hope.

When there are gaps in someone’s lives, those are the spaces for God to fill in, not you.

If we’re always filling the spaces for people when they have a track record of not paying their bills, can’t maintain a job, often need bail money or always running short on the rent, then we’re filling the space that just might be keeping them from seeking God. Stop filling the potholes dug up by the irresponsible decisions of others. Don’t kill yourself trying to save someone from their bad choices and decisions. Only Jesus can save them.

Here’s the spiritual implication of it all: Are you praying that someone will come to know Jesus? Keep praying, but make sure that you aren’t filling the spaces in your life that keep them from running into Jesus open arms. 

Best advice that I ever received from a friend and therapist, Tim Butler: “We have to let people discover their need for God.”

Most of us came to Jesus because we didn’t have anything left in the tank. That’s why we ran to Jesus. Let’s give our adult children, wayward siblings and parents or friends –  give them ALL a chance to run to Jesus, too.  

Now some of you are wondering if you stop fixing someone else’s life, then what do you do with yourself? How do you fill your tank back up again? Here are some questions that you need to answer for yourself:

What do you need to thrive spiritually?
What do you need to thrive financially?
What do you need to thrive socially?
What do you need to thrive emotionally?
What do you need to thrive in your relationships?

Thriving means that you are maturing and growing. It’s knowing how to fill your tank and live without draining your tank.

Just because you are thriving doesn’t mean that you don’t love the other people in your life. In fact, when you take care of yourself, you model the right kind of behavior you want for them one day.

Here are three ways that you can begin to focus on how to stop filling the gaps for others and begin filling your tank instead:

  1. Memorize 1 Peter 5:7: “Give all of your worries and cares to God for He cares about you.” Make sure the first thing you do each day is tell God about all of the situations in your life. Stop carrying those burdens around. When people try to give you their burdens, look them in the eyes and say, “Hang in there! The answers will come. I will pray for you.” Then pray for them, but clamp your mouth shut before you say the phrases, “I can…” or “Would you like me…” or “Let me…” 
  2. Say this: “No is not a bad word.” If you struggle with saying “yes” all of the time, make it a goal to say three “No’s” this week. Are there things that you know that you shouldn’t be doing to fill the gaps in someone else’s life? It’s time to let them do their own #adulting. But be kind: As they say: “Say what you mean and mean what you say, but don’t say it meanly.”
  3. Check out my list of 101-ways to take care of yourself. Pick one thing to do for yourself each day for the next seven days. Self-care is not selfish. CLICK HERE to access the list. 

LEAVE A COMMENT! Is your tank on full, half-tank or are you running on empty? How has God spoken to you through what you’ve read today?  

Written by

Speaker and author, Barbara L. Roose has a passion for inspiring women to connect with God and each other. She is the author of Enough Already: Winning Your Ugly Struggle with Beauty and Beautiful Already: Reclaiming God's Perspective on Beauty (bible study). Connect with Barb on social media: @barbroose and at Facebook.com/barbararoose

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