Saturday, March 13, 2010

Running On Empty? Take Time To Fill Your Tank!

In the past few months I have had several Moms come to me with their feelings of being overwhelmed with the circumstances of their lives so I felt it is an appropriate time for this post.

We Moms have a gift for loving people. With that love comes the desire to serve. Especially when it comes to our spouses and children. We do everything in our power to make sure their needs are met. We get up early and we stay up late to meet those needs. For some reason, we feel pressured to be perfect. For some of us it comes down to the need to be needed. And if we compare ourselves to the woman in Proverbs 31 we can really feel pressured.
But what about the needs of a Mom?
When is the last time you made sure your own needs were met? Please don’t misunderstand me here, I’m not talking about becoming self centered and putting our own needs first. What I am talking about it this ~ we Moms have got to put aside a little bit of time to take care of ourselves. If we don’t, eventually we find ourselves running on empty.
I have been parenting for a long time; twenty nine years to be exact. Our youngest son, who has special needs is still living at home. I have had up to six children living in the home at a time while we were doing foster care. Believe me, I have learned this lesson the hard way. 
I say that to say I know how hard it is for a Mom to find time for herself. In fact, at times it can seem virtually impossible. I know what it feels like to have so many things that have to be done in a day that you put aside your own need for replenishment. But, I also know it is absolutely vital to make it happen. 
I’ll share with you an analogy that helped me with a proper perspective when my children were younger. 
First picture the gas tank on a car. Imagine that you fill it up and begin driving. If you continue driving the car without ever going back to the gas station for a refill, eventually you run out of gas and end up stranded on the side of the road somewhere.
Our lives are the same way. Picture your life as having the following three tanks:
~ Spiritual tank 
~ Physical tank  
~ Emotional tank  
In order to function at our best we must make sure to fill these tanks on a regular basis. 
There was a point in time when my children were younger and my husband was traveling a lot that I became so overwhelmed with the circumstances in our life that I ran out of gas and stalled out. Literally, I reached a point where I had absolutely nothing left to give. For the only time in my life, I became paralyzed with depression for a couple of weeks. It was at that point I realized that my putting my own needs on a shelf & meeting everybody else’s needs was definitely NOT WORKING. Like I said, I learned this lesson the hard way. Hopefully you won’t have to.
I want to encourage all of you Mom’s to take time to take care of yourself. For your family’s sake as well as your own. 
Begin by answering the following questions:
When is the last time you spent time alone with God?
When is the last time you put aside time to exercise?
When is the last time you spent time with girlfriends?
I know we all lead busy lives, but if it has been too long, then I encourage you do something to change it. 
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
First of all, if you are feeling overwhelmed, please do yourself a favor and find someone you trust to talk to about it. 
Make sure to spend time alone with God to replenish your spirit daily. If you don’t know where to start and it sounds overwhelming, you can click here and follow PURSUEGOD  on Twitter or click here to follow on Facebook. Each day they post a simple daily reading plan and a daily declaration of faith for your life. You can even buy one of the Pursue God Journal’s through the Generation Unleashed Store if you like. 
Make time to get some exercise a few times each week. A simple walk through the neighborhood several times a week can be very therapeutic. If you have little ones just put them in a stroller and take them along. The fresh air is good for them, too. If you live here in Portland, you may have to improvise when it’s raining and take your walk indoors at the mall ;). But you can still make it happen if you set your mind to it.
It is vital to spend time with girlfriends. We meet a social and emotional need in each other that our husbands will never be able to. Not because they don’t want to, but because they aren’t made that way. You can always fill two tanks at once by getting together with girlfriends and walking together. You can create a network with other Moms and take turns trading childcare so each of you can get out and have a date night with your hubby or alone time

I hope that in some small way this helps. 

Have a great Saturday!!

O Lord, hear me as I pray;
pay attention to my groaning.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
for I pray to no one but you.
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
Psalm 5:1