Running on Empty
That same anxious feeling we might get driving a car with a gas tank almost on empty and the fuel light blinking, is how we feel when we’re depleted emotionally and physically in our care-giving responsibilities. Similarly, even an avid, well seasoned and trained runner is apt to say the same things that we do, when we realize we’re running on empty:
“I’m SO tired!”
“I can’t do this anymore.”
“I just want to quit.”
“I have nothing left.”
We have —many times. Which phrase have you repeated? Or, perhaps you have a few of your own:
Caring for one with special needs is exhausting. Recently at a conference where we were speaking on marriage, a gal said to us, “I am a special education teacher. My husband and I thought I was well qualified for what I was doing, and decided to adopt a child with special needs. We had no idea what we were in for. It is so much more difficult, challenging, exhausting and frustrating than we could ever have imagined.”
For some of us, we run the race of this journey hard, fast, and well for a long time, but at some point, there is something that is bound to stop us—or try to stop us! It might be:
- A deteriorating marriage
- Siblings showing signs of rebellion
- Our own health issues as a result of stress and pressures
- Financial burdens
Often we don’t recognize the fatigue until we literally can’t put one foot in front of the other any longer. We need to build safety rails to keep us on the right path and for the long haul. Boundaries are as needed in the race as all of the training exercises and rituals in preparation. If you’re running on empty and feeling the need to disqualify yourself from the race, step off the path for a moment, get a grip, and then continue. Here are a few things to help us get a grip:
- Find a faithful friend who’ll run the race with us—who can we call when we feel like we’re losing it.
- Avoid negative thinkers—we need encouragers!
- Ask those close to us to hold us up when we need help (prayer included!)
- Find a hobby to learn new things that are fun.
- Learn to say “no” to people and projects that bring us down.
- Learn to let go of that which we have no control over.
Doing a few things at a time to help build stamina and endurance is the key. We can’t do everything all at once. But we can do little things along the way to make a difference, so we can go from running on empty to running on a full tank—and for the long haul!
Written by Cindi Ferrini