Monday, July 30, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Running On Empty

 "No matter how much we love our family and friends, a part of us needs the occasional moment of solitude as a plant needs water.  It is the inmost core of each of us, that part which nobody can define, but which we all recognize because it never changes." ~Anna Neagle

Welcome back my friends!  I'm sure you've noticed by now, if you come here on a regular basis, that I have cut back significantly on the messages I post.  Trying to post on a daily basis just got to the point where it felt more like a duty than something I enjoyed.  It was causing more stress for me, so an adjustments had to be made.  My lack of blogging is also a reflection of how I've been feeling physically and emotionally for a while now.

Do you ever just want to run away, far away, and leave all your cares behind you?  Do you ever just get to the point where you feel like you cannot take one more day of things staying the same way?  That's where I am.  Let me clarify, when I say "run away" I don't mean leave your family for good and never look back.  What I mean is getting away for a little while, to get refreshed and renewed, so that I can come back with a better attitude and perspective.  I cannot remember the last time I had a vacation.  It's been many years ago.  I am one of those people that needs time alone to get my thoughts together and to spend quality time with God in a place that is quiet.

There is very little quiet time around here on our small farm.  The animals here don't understand my need for solitude and quiet, they just know we are the food-givers and the care-givers, so give the food and give the care!  The pressures and responsibilities of life can seem overwhelming at times.  There are many things that have been weighing heavily on me lately; past hurts and losses, the changes we've had to walk through over the last few years now, dealing with my daily limitations and challenges from fibromyalgia, concerns about what the future holds in quite a few areas, what will be required of me when certain things happen and will I be able to do those things, feeling like my shoulders are just not big enough to carry all this stuff.  I remember specifically telling God yesterday, "I cannot do this Lord.  It's too hard."  I am feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.  I need time for me, just me.  I want to go somewhere with me, myself, and I.  I love my family very much and am so thankful for the blessings God has given me, however, I feel like I am not able to give to them in the way I want to because of not having the time to get refreshed and restored.  When you feel that you are being pulled in so many directions, and you don't have anything left to give, then anything that requires you to give more of yourself feels like it just makes the load heavier.

Even Jesus knew how important it was to get away and spend quality time with His Father.  He would make a point to get away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds, from the constant pull of others on Him, to spend time alone, in a quiet place, with the Father.  The responsibilities required of Him were much greater than those I have, but the same principle applies anyway; you can't give out of what you don't have within yourself to give.  When we constantly give of ourselves, yet take no time to replenish our spirits and restore our minds and bodies, we are going to run out of steam.  You can only do that for so long until you hit empty.  That's where I am....empty.  I feel like I just have nothing more to give.  It's all used up.  I am at a place now that I recognize the warning signs of overload.  I have got to take those signs seriously or I will pay for it later.  I'm already paying for it. When living with a chronic pain disorder it's crucial to make the necessary changes to reduce the stress and pain levels in your body.  My pain levels have increased significantly over the last few years now.  It's time for a change.  I'm not sure yet what those changes will be, but there will definitely be some.  The first one is going to be me getting away for some quality time with the Lord.  I am trusting He will make a way for that to happen since in the natural, it seems impossible.  He knows the changes I need to make and He knows how badly I need to be refreshed.  He can provide the means for this to happen.

Maybe you're in the same boat I am.  Maybe you're feeling burnt out and overwhelmed.  Maybe you realize it's time for a change.  Here are some suggestions that might help you start those changes:

*Take some time to get away, even if it's just for an hour or so each day, to spend some time with your Father, to get refreshed and restored.  Maybe you can go for a walk, or sit down with a cup of tea or coffee first thing in the morning or in the evening.  Whatever it is, take the time to get alone with God.

*Do something special just for you.  When we constantly give of ourselves without getting replenished, it can wear us down and cause us to feel resentful when we have to do one more thing for someone.  God wants us to be cheerful givers, not just with our money, but with our time and talents too.  If you're feeling stressed out and pressured when you think of all you have to do, then that may be a sign that you have too much on your plate, or that you need some time for you.  You matter.  Taking time to do things for yourself is important. You can't give when there's nothing left to give.  Take time to get your nails done, or get a pedicure, or maybe even a new hairstyle.  If you don't have the extra money to do those sort of things, then maybe just take a long, hot, bubble bath while reading your favorite book.  Maybe just fix yourself a cup of hot tea and sit out on the back porch while you watch the hummingbirds going about their business.  Whatever it happens to be, do it for you.

*It's okay to say no.  Don't feel obligated to say yes to things that you know will just add to the long list of things you already have to do.  I had to learn this lesson the hard way.  From years of being in the people-pleasing prison, I finally realized that I was only saying yes because I was afraid that if I said no then I wouldn't be liked anymore, or that the person making the request of me would be upset with me for saying no.  I am the only one who can determine how I spend my time.  Once that time is gone, it cannot be recovered.  Am I doing things for someone because I really want to, or am I doing it because I feel obligated and pressured to do it?

*Ask for help.  I cannot count the times I felt taken for granted and resentful because I thought if my family really cared about me then they would offer to help me out with the things I needed to do.  It was foolish of me to think that way.  They could not read my mind.  Yes, it would be nice of them to offer to help, but for me to expect them to do that was just setting myself up for disappointment.  If you need help with something and are feeling overwhelmed and stressed about the things you have to do, it's okay to ask for help.  It doesn't make you less of a person to ask for help.  None of us are expected to be superhuman.

*Get enough sleep.  I have to admit, this is a hard one for me.  At night, after everyone has gone to bed, which is normally around midnight, that's when it's finally quiet around here.  Of course, by that time, I'm so exhausted I can't even think straight, so why in the world don't I just go to bed earlier?!?! It's crazy!  I definitely need to work on this one, a lot.  Maybe you're one of those people who just cannot sleep.  My daughter, Brittany, has had issues with sleep for quite a few years now.  She either has trouble going to sleep, or has trouble staying asleep.  Sometimes it's both.  We really aren't sure what to do to resolve this issue.  We've tried to change her sleep pattern several times, which only resulted in her having a lack-of-sleep-meltdown.  We've tried a few other natural supplements, all to no avail at this time.  I don't get the quality of sleep I would like since I toss and turn the majority of the night because of the chronic pain issues.  This is an area where I need to make some changes.

*Be careful about what you put into your body.  Keep a close watch on what you're eating and drinking.  That old phrase, "You are what you eat" is very true.  If you're putting junk in, then that's what you're gonna get out.  Your body can't perform at it's best if you're putting junk in it.  Keep a journal of the things you eat and drink for one week.  At the end of the week you may be surprised by the what you see.  You don't have to change everything at one time.  Just make a few small changes to start with.  Maybe instead of soda you could start having more water or herbal tea.  Maybe you could even start with just cutting back on your intake of sugar and caffeine.  Maybe you could decide to have fruit instead of a bowl of ice cream.  There are many changes you can make in the way you eat to be healthier, and those changes will ultimately make you feel better too.

*Keep a journal.  I have done this for many, many years.  It really does help to write your thoughts and feelings down.  It's also very encouraging to go back and see how God has worked in my life in certain situations.  Having a way to pour out your struggles and feelings can help you release some of the frustrations we sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed with.

*Spend time with people who lift you up and encourage you.  This is such an important key to having a healthy, balanced life.  Life is too short to spend it with people who belittle you and run you in the ground.  If you find that you come away from being around someone feeling stressed and sucked dry then perhaps it's time to look for some other relationships that will build you up.  We all need to have people in our lives who will pour into us and encourage us.  No one wants to be in a relationship where you feel like all you do is give and give, and yet that person never gives back to you.  It's good to give to others, but not at the expense of your own health.  Boundaries are a wonderful thing.

I hope these examples I've given will help you to realize how important taking care of yourself is.  Do something special for yourself today my friends.  You're worth it!  Until next time, be blessed!

"Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy, and rewarding life." ~Marilu Henner