Originally published March 3, 2014.
I hate stopping for gas. I will drive as far as possible on “E” before stopping at a gas station. (Sorry, Mom & Dad – I know, you taught me better.) I hate the anxiety of wondering if I’ll make it to my destination before I run out – but I hate stopping for gas even more than that. It’s such an inconvenience – who has time to stop for gas? The whole concept of STOPPING before I can GO just frustrates me.
Today, this habit finally caught up with me. I load the kids, their snacks, and my bags in the car to go get groceries for the week. Everyone is buckled in, ready to be on our way, and I turn the key.
The lights and radio work fine, so I know it’s not the battery. I call Matt to complain that the stupid car won’t start AGAIN, and what can possibly be wrong THIS time.
Then I notice the gas gauge. And THEN I remember swinging into the driveway yesterday, doing a small arm-pump for making it home without running out of gas… never considering I’d just left myself a completely empty tank.
Didn’t exactly set myself up for a win today, did I?
Obviously we didn’t get to run our errands. Even though stopping for gas would’ve momentarily slowed me down, running out of gas slowed me down immeasurably more. By refusing to PAUSE to refill the tank yesterday, I forced myself into a complete HALT.
I know there’s a lesson in this — and it extends further than filling up my car (although I could stand to just learn THAT lesson). How do we practice the “Refuel Principle” in the rest of life? I believe we can implement this one practice in 3 essential places even TODAY:
Physical: The other day, I really didn’t feel like exercising. (Correction – almost every day I really don’t feel like exercising.) What made the other day DIFFERENT was that I made myself exercise for 20 minutes ANYWAY. I popped in a workout DVD while the kids were occupied with something (okay, that something was the iPad) and I JUST DID IT. And it’s like it re-booted my brain. Just from 20 minutes of sweating. Carving out those TWENTY MINUTES resulted in greater effectiveness & enjoyment throughout the REST OF MY DAY. It was a re-fueling for my body.
Mental: My brain and my body need rest. And I don’t just mean a minute to prop my feet up. I mean ACTUAL SLEEP. I very rarely get good, adequate sleep, which makes no sense because I LOVE TO SLEEP. But with a night-owl husband it’s very tempting to stay up too late too often. (He is not to blame. My love of sitting on the couch and watching TV with him is the real culprit. We are very exciting people, I tell you.) I know good, consistent sleep would really make a difference in my day. So why is it so hard to make this choice consistently?? (I hear you baby-mommas — I know you have to be up at all hours of the night to tend to your little one. So, I hereby grant you permission to TAKE A GUILT-FREE NAP while your baby naps and your non-napping toddler watches Dora. Get some sleep, woman.)
Spiritual: I often think of “stopping for gas” in the context of my spiritual life — taking time to read the Bible, sitting in God’s presence, letting Jesus fill me anew. I absolutely need that fueling, that filling up, as well. It’s so counter-intuitive… stop so I can go. There’s so much to do — and even the noblest woman could say she doesn’t have time to read about Jesus because she’s too busy going out there to actually serve Him. She doesn’t have time to pause and pray about the hurt in the world because she’s too busy getting out there and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I don’t hate that mindset. But the truth is, YOU CAN’T GIVE AWAY WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE. You want to give away love, hope, peace, joy? Then you better pause long enough to fill up at the Source.
As I write this, I’m already thinking, “This is so basic. Everyone knows you need to do that. You can’t just keep going going going, pouring out and pouring out and pouring out without being refilled yourself.”
But if it’s so basic, WHY DON’T I DO IT?
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s my deep-down denial of how this whole gas tank thing works. As long as the car is still running, I’m good, right? I’ll just stop for gas when I run out – or when the anxiety about running low finally drives me to fill up just in time.
The truth is, I falter when I fail to care for and respect how I was made. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual creations. If I’m living life on Empty – in any of those areas – I shouldn’t be surprised by the anxiety and the frequent breakdowns.
“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
– John 10:10b
Life wasn’t meant to be lived on Empty. Let’s encourage one another – share how you “refuel” in the comments!