What to Do When You Have Nothing Left To Give
- 2006 6 Mar
I have nothing left to give. The thought bounced around in my mind as I took a deep breath, prayed for God’s empowerment, . . . and gave some more.
Most homeschool moms have been there. We keep going on sheer will when we’ve had little sleep, too many demands, and are pulled from every direction. The question I often have is: should I pray for more strength or just take a nap?
I wish I had a magical potion to solve this problem. You know, maybe a jar of something that tastes like chocolate truffles and says, When you feel you have nothing left to give, take 2 Tablespoons and wait for surge of joy, energy, and passion for task at hand.
My life would be much more simple. But, then I guess I wouldn’t be so often reminded that I need Jesus. Every day. Every minute of this journey. Showing me how to respond to the struggles of life.
I certainly don’t have all the answers for this very real problem. If I did, my tired eyes wouldn’t be squinting as I type this article. But, I have discovered some things that help me when I feel all worn out. Maybe they’ll help you, too.
Cling to God’s Truth
Sometimes when I feel I have nothing left to give it goes back to my attitude. I’m emotionally worn-out from believing the lies of the enemy. I’ve let old voices play in my head that tell me I’m not good enough—as a mom, a teacher, a Christian. Or I compare myself, my methods, or my children to someone else and feel like a failure. Sometimes I don’t compare, I just place put my family on a continuum with perfection written at the top and I wallow in how far we are from the ideal.
For me, the best way to fight off these negative thoughts is to replace them with God’s truth. If I feel inadequate I remind myself that I am equipped in Christ Jesus for every good work that He’s prepared for me to do. (2 Corinthians 9:8) When I try to live up to perfectionist standards—and fall on my face, of course—I remember that God’s power is perfected in weakness. I freely admit my frailty to the Father and ask Him to work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Often, when I feel worn-out, there’s been an emotional neglect of myself. I haven’t taken the time to be honest about the struggles I face. I’m trying to handle things God never intended for me to carry. One of my recent favorite Scriptures says, "I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble." (Psalm 142:2 NIV) I’ve discovered that sometimes all I need to carry on is an honest conversation with my Father. I tell Him my troubles, have a good cry, and leave that heavy stuff in His hands.
Sometimes, it isn’t so much that I need to complain. I just need to be quiet before Him—rest in His word, think about His love, ask for His rejuvenating care. A lot of weariness can be cared for by a good cup of tea and some quiet moments alone with Him. In The Message Jesus says, "Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Do Something Different
Several years ago when the children were younger I awoke dreading the day. To be perfectly honest, I was sick of homeschooling. I asked the Lord what to do and instantly had a strange thought. "Do school at the park." So we did—packed up our books, some snacks, and a huge blanket and worked in the sunshine. It got me over the hump and we all came home rejuvenated. Sometimes we need to break routine and do something different.
Take Time for Fun
Just this weekend I made a choice to attend a social activity with my children. I didn’t have the time and wasn’t sure it would be worth the effort, but it was. Spending time with other homeschool moms in a fun, free environment made such a difference in my ability to face work the next day. In my efforts to accomplish the many good things the Lord has called me to do, I often forget that He also calls me to balance. If I don’t take time for fun, I’m less effective when it’s time to work.
Fun is different for different people. Spending time with friends is a great boost for me. So is reading a good, uplifting novel, or taking a walk with my husband. Sometimes our family just needs to cancel everything, order a pizza and watch a funny movie, or go outside and play basketball. What is fun for you? Answer that question and make sure you include it in your schedule.
Evaluate the Call
The other day a friend and I were discussing the struggle of making healthy choices for our time. She said something I think many of us face when evaluating decisions. "I feel guilty if I do and guilty if I don’t." She believed no matter her choice she would let someone down. Most women struggle with this. It’s hard to say, "no," especially when the need seems so great, but too many "yes" answers are sure to lead to burn out.
Scripture makes it clear that the Lord will empower us for what He’s called us to do, but too often we pile more on our plate than He intends and then we wonder why He isn’t helping us get it all done. A wise mom once told me, "The need is not the call." Her admonition still rings in my ears now, ten years later. When I face a choice to add a new demand on my schedule, I try to pause and ask if God is calling me to fill that need. If He isn’t, I trust He has someone else for the job or that it’s just not on His list of priorities.
Take a Break
Too often we don’t give ourselves permission for the rest we need. I did it again this weekend. I had several writing deadlines pulling at me and I was determined to meet them, despite exhaustion. In my heart, I knew I was ignoring the prompting of the Spirit to rest. I wasted a couple of hours on Friday evening staring at a computer screen and accomplishing basically nothing. The next day I tried again, only to be frustrated. Finally, I let it go and went to the activity I mentioned earlier. After I got caught up on my rest and had some playtime, the writing projects suddenly came together. I wish I had given myself permission to take a break before I wasted so much time. Sometimes, we just need a nap!
A home schooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God's grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her website offers home schooling hints, book reviews, and a free weekly devotional, Soul Scents. Subscribe to Soul Scents at www.soulscents.us. You can contact Paula at Paula@soulscents.us.