I’m not sure which is more nerve-wracking: keeping young children from playing in the street, teaching your older child how to drive, or letting her drive alone. My teen daughter had just left the house and had only been gone 10 minutes when my phone rang. Not good.
She opened with, “It’s not an emergency and no one is dead.” I have trained her well. Relief and joy, mixed with a hint of pride. “But it is urgent and I do need your help.” Bummer. I just got back home.
“I think I ran out of gas and I’m stuck in the turn lane in front of the gas station.”Disappointment turned to anxiety as I was already imagining her being rear-ended and seriously injured.
It had already been a hectic week. My husband was TDY, which is military-speak for “away from home and unavailable.” If you rearrange the letters and add a few more, it’s easy to see that TDY really means “Deal with iT Yourself.”
I was handling all the usual details of managing a large family with three children in public school, four homeschooling, and one studying abroad for a year when my daughter called.
I asked her location, grabbed my keys, and yelled at my next oldest child that he’d be in charge while I went to rescue his sister. (When you have 10 people in your family, you have to have a clear chain of command.)
As I hopped in the car, I realized it would be handy to grab the red gas can from the garage since the gas station nozzle probably won’t reach out to the turn lane.
I parked the car where it was, left it running, and zipped through the house to the garage. Tripping over bikes, balls, and boxes, I finally reached the lawn mower and the red gas can. It took some muscle and Tetris-style ninja moves, but I was able to wrench the container from its nest of junk and rush it to the car.
As I pulled up to the gas station, I was relieved to find my daughter by her car at the side of the building and not in the middle of the intersection. A friendly delivery truck driver had helped her push her car out of the intersection. Thank you, snack delivery man! You are such a blessing on so many levels.
We took the gas can to the pump and filled it. After I called my teen son to find out how to pour gas from the container (the spout was tricky), we filled her car enough to drive it over to the pump.
I met her at the pump and we chatted while her car drank thirstily. I began to notice the sweat dripping off me. Then I realized I would need to refill the gas can if I wanted my son to be able to mow the lawn (which I did).
I said goodbye to my daughter as she drove off and I stayed behind to refill the container. Once it was full, I lugged it over to my car (bonus workout points!) and got in.
As I started the car, I noticed the condition of my own tank. It was only a quarter full. Might as well fill myself up while I’m here! So I drove back to the same pump where we had just filled her car and the gas can (twice).
My credit card wouldn’t work. What!? I had just filled up at this exact same pump with this very card! You’ve got to be kidding me!
I got no response from the pump. It just continued to blink “Please see the cashier.” Convinced it must be the pump’s fault, I drove to a different pump. Same irritating message. Same 90-plus degree weather.
I briefly considered just going home and calling it a day, but I refused to be beaten so easily. I went inside and told the attendant the short version of my story. He looked the error up on his computer and reported that the pump said “too frequent use.”
I released a tired sigh. Isn’t that the perfect metaphor for my life? I can fill up everyone’s tank but my own. I serve and give and help, but when I need some extra juice, the pump refuses to let me have it. “Too frequent use” and now the well has run dry and my tank is still empty.
It’s so easy as women to live our lives filling up everyone else’s tank while we try to keep running on empty. We love our people so much it hurts and when they need us, we jump into action.
Could it be we’re running on empty because we keep going to the wrong pumps looking for fulfillment? We try to draw from wells that can’t satisfy and drink water that only makes us thirsty again.Could it be we’re running on empty because we keep going to the wrong pumps looking for fulfillment? You don't have to stay empty or thirsty! #selfcare Click To Tweet
There is a pump that is always ready and willing to fill you up if you will allow it. There’s only one well that never runs dry.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
~ John 4:13-14
P.S. – After my husband read the draft of this post, he commented that if the truck driver had pushed her car to the pump instead of the parking space, none of these shenanigans would have been necessary. My warm fuzzies about Snack-Man evaporated immediately.
NOTE: This post originally appeared on PlantingRoots.net in 2016.
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