You do a lot. Or as one of my daughter’s would say, “A lot a lot!” From the time your feet hit the ground in the morning until they slide back down between the sheets at night, you’re busy. Busy with children and housekeeping and answering questions and cooking and cleaning and being available for your husband and… yes, I know, I’m preaching to the choir here. Amen sister?
After a few years of service to your family you may start to feel as if you’re running on empty or fumes at the very least.
I’m running on empty. I am starting to yell, I’m not be the mom and wife I want to be. I know the easy solution is for me to take time for myself, but… “
If so, you’re in good company. I’ve been there too and please know you’re not alone.
Whether it’s Facebook or blog posts the advice given is well meaning but often unbiblical and/or misguided.
Advice such as:
- Have dad take the kids to the park so you can do your nails, read, journal…
- Watch a movie
- Go for a walk
- Enjoy a cup of tea
- Do your make-up
- Have your husband help out more with housework
- Hire help
Here is what is unbiblical or misguided about these solutions: they are all a temporary fix. But wait, there’s more.
What also troubles me is that these typical responses echo the world’s responses. Very rarely is a solid, Biblical solution offered. To be sure, I googled “running on empty mom” and on just the first page alone I found several blog posts with ideas on how to recover from running on empty and most of the responses matched those above.
This blogger (while her motivation is to encourage) writes to moms who’ve “lost their identity” by suggesting they “Workout, read a book, plan a date night, create goals…” Many of the same recommendations that Christians give.
Moms who have lost their identity? Our identity is in Christ, not the role He has given us to fulfill. And empty is empty.
If you are living life with little to give, you are running on empty and empty doesn’t get filled by watching movies, sending the kids to grandma’s house for a few hours or updating your nail polish. All that is-is escapism and covering up the real issue… the why.
Why You’re Running on Empty
Standing in front of the washer turning dirty socks right side out over and over again, or cleaning the kitchen only to turn around to dirty dishes in the sink can be draining. Spending an hour cooking a dinner your family whines about once served or waiting for your kids to put their shoes on for every.single.stop you make while running errands can also be draining if you desire what is not yours.
Simply put, when you want more than motherhood, marriage and homemaking you may want more than the LORD has called you to and that spurs frustrations, unhealthy longings and is an awful drain.
You may also feel or have been told that you need or deserve time to yourself, or worse yet, the Christian woman’s mantra: “You need to pour into yourself to pour back out.” Nonsense. You need the LORD, His Word and wise council, not an hour and a half to watch “Moms Night Out” without interruption.
*Note* The idea of putting ourselves first so we can care for those around us has all the best intentions. However, it falls short. That advice is, again, only a temporary fix.
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit. Galatians tells us to walk in the Spirit. And the example that Jesus gives is prayer. When our LORD spent time alone, he wasn’t exercising, reading a book or sipping tea. He spent that time in prayer.
The first Biblical response and solution to running on empty is to be thankful. Yes, being thankful in all things is Biblical too, but not presented as a solution to feeling empty. You’re in no better position to be filled by the Holy Spirit than when you are emptied. This isn’t a despised condition.
The second Biblical response/solution is prayer. Pray without ceasing. A prayer filled life is your defense against hopelessness and emptiness.
Third, renew your mind. Quit reading how to fill yourself, quit reading about how you need to put yourself first (an utterly unbiblical idea), quit thinking so much about you. Instead, read Psalms. A lot a lot. Over and over again.
Fourth, seek joy, pursue it. And an insider tip… joy comes from serving others with the right heart attitude and mindset. Serve joyfully expecting nothing in return.
If this sounds way out of your grasp, read it again. Maybe not today, but in a few days come back and read this over again. If you are a child of the LORD, the only way to combat emptiness is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and continue in the good works of loving your husband and children and being busy in your home.
When I feel out of sorts or overwhelmed, I turn to His Word and practice quietness. A meek and quiet spirit is precious in the sight of God. I also mentally step back and re-evaluate some priorities and can quickly see I’m spending time on the wrong pursuits.
When you love your family, do the good you know to do, and continue in prayer… you will be filled and it won’t be temporary.
At this time, this post is 3 days old. I haven’t changed or updated anything here, except for this “post update.” Since receiving various comments, I felt the need to add this:
- If you enjoy taking walks, reading or anything else I mentioned, wonderful. I did not say any of those were wrong to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed or drained.
- However, if you are using any of those as a means to re-fuel your spirit, your efforts are in vain. Those are a temporary fix.
- Thinking that you deserve time away from your husband and/or children and that will give you peace, cure your overwhelm, or alleviate that running on empty feeling, you are mistaken. Again, it might appear to help for a while, but you will never get past those feelings without some work on your part and without the LORD.
- If you are running on empty and the solutions I listed “don’t work,” perhaps there is more to the issue that you are experiencing (1. the children are unruly and walk all over you, 2. your see your husband as needy or demanding or unkind, 3. your house is a complete mess, etc). I would say, you’re right… praying alone doesn’t fix that and I recommend that while you continue in prayer and thanksgiving you also 1. focus on training your children, spend your time with that and nothing else but the necessities, 2. love your husband more, be kind to him and think less of yourself (if there are serious issues, that is beyond the scope of this blog, please seek help from church or close friends, 3. declutter, a lot, get rid of what is causing your home to be overwhelming. Create a place of peace, it may be difficult for you to get rid of things you’ve hung on to for a long time but is most likely necessary if you feel that leaving your home often is the cure for you overwhelm. Your husband and children likely feel overwhelmed there too. Faith apart from works is dead. Fervent prayer and thankfulness should be your first step, followed by the actions I recommended.
- The bible says to speak the truth in love (love here is defined as good will or benevolence). It is always (always) my desire to encourage, even when I “step on toes” and always my desire to point homemakers towards good works. If what I have written comes across as harsh, it was not meant to. I may be blunt, but I don’t try to be harsh. If I have offended you, I pray it leads you to godly repentance as 2 Corinthians 7 as an example:
4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you…8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you… 2 Corinthians 7: 4-12