Have you ever been so on “E” that you feared you would not make it to the nearest gas station? You hold your breath, slowing down and coasting as much as possible, just to get there. I had a sister-in-law who once hilariously said, “I’ve been so low on gas, that I even turned off my radio!”
What about when you are emotionally running on empty? You feel like you are in the fight of your life and you have no idea why or how it happened. If only these tanks could be so easily refilled.
If you are like me, you have been through a season or two when all that you thought defined you, was spent. On every level, you have felt challenged to defend yourself, to fight for your resources of strength, of provision, of relationship, of even faith. Perhaps even now, people you believed had your best interest, are distant. You are coasting, but not sure where to find what you need to sustain the ride.
It’s times like these that even a “glass half-full” person can feel more like your life is in a sieve, pouring out in every direction. It’s impossible, it seems, to replenish what is needed to survive. It’s when we feel so depleted, so vacant, that we also are most vulnerable.
Psalm 121 says, “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord.” And yet, we stand watching, waiting… and even He seems far away.
I have come to understand that it is in being emptied that we are filled up again. I don’t understand why it has to be this way. It seems unnecessary to be so gutted. And yet, if we walk by faith, we have to trust that God knows things we don’t. He knows when there are things — people, situations — that are not as they should be. And so He removes us from them.
Never is this fun.
When we are so humbled that it’s hard to orient where we are from what used to be “normal,” we are forced to unclench our fists. The fight seeps out of us, our gaze drops. We give up. We feel empty.
And that’s when it happens. “Ok God, you win.”
I am learning that there is very little that we can do in these times. It does no good to try and convince someone to see our side, to love us, to be loyal or faithful when their hearts are no longer with us. We can’t make a friend or loved one come back into relationship, or co-worker see our value, when they have cast us aside with their judgment or opinions. All we can do is bless them and move on (easier said than done, to be sure.) But I believe that is what we are supposed to do.
The fight, is futile. And more than this, the fight is not ours. All we can do is ask the Lord to fill us with His grace; with what is right, and true, kind, and loving. Sometimes, it’s just being able to stand, to get through one moment to the next. It can take all we have just to hold our tongues and ask God to stem the tide of bitterness and offense.
It’s accepting that we are on “E” and that somehow, somewhere down the road, we will be restored. It’s going with it, hard as it is.
When I get to this place, I am able to take deeper breaths. I am able to know that He is working things out for me. I can let go — if just for a moment at the time — of hurts that come to take away my peace… I can be emptied because I know He has more for me, even when I can’t see it yet.
It’s here that I remind myself to let God do things His way.
Nobody likes the feeling of being emptied. It’s a lonely here. It requires stamina you didn’t know you had, and a restraint to not go rogue when we really only want people to validate that we have worth, that we mean something to them.
And that’s when God will whisper to keep our eyes on Him. “It’s just up ahead a little farther. Stay on this road, and you will see.”
All of this, is the lesson of “E.” When we feel empty, we might not understand it. But He does. He loves us. And He will fill us with whatever we need to get to where it is we need to go. The trip, He promises, will bring us to better.
Keep your radio on and sing. You’ll get there