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Have you ever been so busy that you think, if I can just make it through to ____(fill in the blank)________ then everything will be ok? So you just put your head down and keep moving forward. You may get a small break here and there, but for the most part you are a steam engine and you are going places. Got things to do, and people to see. I think you get the idea.

Yeah, well that’s me…More often than I would like to admit actually.

I have been busy, am always busy it seems – doing all kinds of good things, but a few weeks ago, I hit the wall. If you missed my post from last week where I shared about Hitting the Wall, make sure to hop on over and check it out. I shared 3 things we all need to remember to avoid hitting the wall. A.P.E. – Ask – Prioritize – Evaluate


Or as Blogger Katie Reid, commented on my blog post from last week:

APE = Important Steps to Avoid Burnout

So what about that wall?

I had been pushing through hard to get through the busy holiday season at church November – December, and then knew a small break would be coming between Christmas and New Year’s, and January is usually a pretty slow month for me at work anyways, so if I could just get through, it would all be ok. However, it was not slow and I was not ok. I made it to Christmas and shortly after, my amazing husband, who never gets sick, got sick. Not just for a day or two, but for two plus weeks. Not what either of us had planned. Our plans went out the window, and my usually slow January, was insanely busy and like none I have ever experienced.

Shortly after hitting the wall in early February, I headed off to a week of conferences with my husband. Still not fully recovered and back to my normal energetic self, I contemplated sitting in the hotel room relaxing and reading while I sent my husband off to do the conference thing. I felt guilty though and ended up attending with him, I am so glad I did.

One of the session speakers had this amazing graphic handout of a fuel gas gauge with marks to indicate a full tank. ¾ full tank; ½ full tank; ¼ full talk and a completely empty tank. The questions of the day were: What are the emotional or mental indicators that you are being drained? Do you know what drains you? Do you know when you are approaching ½ a tank or less? What can you do to fill yourself up? And finally, Do you know how to fill yourself up?

They seem like easy enough questions to answer, however, they are harder than one might think. Oh but wait, there was one more thing that I wrote down:

When I live below empty, it robs people from seeing God’s best in me and that dishonors God.

Oh and the speaker threw out this nugget too: When we live below empty it becomes dangerously easy to use people instead of partner with people to accomplish things we are responsible for.

OUCH! I have watched this happen in a variety of ministry and work settings. I do try really hard to safe guard myself and others under my leadership from ever “using” or taking advantage of others, but that doesn’t mean it’s always avoided.

Over the last few weeks this fuel tank analogy has been on my mind, along with the questions. Truthfully, I am not sure I can articulate what each level looks and feels like. Oh, I know when I am there, but the whole idea is to recognize it before it happens and avoid being below ½ full.

Running on Empty

Are you anything like me? Do you feel guilty for taking time for yourself? Is it hard to relax when you have so many things you should be doing? Oh, you too? I am so glad I am not in this alone.

Identify what depletes your gas tank and what fills it up.

  • Take a piece of paper and divide it in half right down the middle
  • Write an “F” for full at the top of the page/line in the middle
  • Write an “E” for empty at the bottom of the page/line in the middle
  • At the Center of the page/line in the middle from ½
  • Then halfway above ½ and below the “F” write ¾
  • Then halfway below ½ and above the “E” write ¼
  • On the left hand side of the page begin listing the indicators that you are being drained at each level.
  • On the right hand side of the page begin listing the things that will fill you up at each level

Schedule time for yourself.

  • Give yourself permission to care for you!
  • It honors God when you take care of yourself.
    • It is essential to staying above ½ a tank.

Utilize the 3 Steps of A.P.E. to help you avoid hitting “E”

  • Ask
  • Prioritize
  • Evaluate

I invite you to Please take time to comment and share below with all of us:

  • What are the indicators that you are being depleted?
  • What is it that fills you up?

For me, a huge indicator that I am reaching the ½ point or below is, I want to withdraw, go nowhere, see no one, and just veg out. I know I have slipped below ½ when even the thought of going to the movies is rejected. Going to the movies is something that usually fills me up.

What fills me up? Going to the movies, painting furniture, reading a book, being creative, getting a pedicure, and the list goes on.

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