This week has been heavy and hard. Too weighty to carry.
Before I went into the week, I had a word to cling to: faith.
By the end of the week I was holding onto that word by just a thinning thread, and it was slipping fast through my fingers.
But today there was hope. Faith paid off. Miracles unfolded in simplicity. Grace was extended. And I was in the midst of it all, a little shaken and in wonder of what I could not make happen myself.
For some of you too, you might need a story of hope as your faith buckles. Every ordinary advocate, every everyday difference-maker does. What we cannot control we must surrender. Sometimes all we have left is faith.
Here is my prayer for you today, this week, if you too are heavy and need to hear it:
“He stooped down to lift me out of danger from the desolate pit I was in, out of the muddy mess I had fallen into. Now he’s lifted me up into a firm, secure place. . . . A new song for a new day rises up in me every time I think about how he breaks through for me! Ecstatic praise pours out of my mouth until everyone hears how God has set me free. Many will see his miracles; they’ll stand in awe of God and fall in love with him! . . .O Lord, our God, no one can compare with you. Such wonderful works and miracles are all found with you! And you think of us all the time with your countless expressions of love— far exceeding our expectations!. . .Evil surrounds me; problems greater than I can solve come one after another. Without you, I know I can’t make it. . . . Lord, in my place of weakness and need, I ask again: Will you come and help me? I know I’m always in your thoughts. You are my true Savior and hero, so don’t delay to deliver me now, for you are my God.”Psalms 40 TPT
Getting Back to Overflow
If you want to make a difference in the world, you can’t pour from an empty cup. In fact, pouring just doesn’t even work well. You know what works well? Overflowing works well.
As a world changer who has gone through burn-out, and has seen myself getting close to it again, I’ve had to learn a lot of prevention. Discovering what makes my cup overflow, or even just making sure it is more full than empty has become the most paramount part of the way I make a difference.
I find it mind-blowing how I used to think I could serve, give, pour, drain myself in the name of good without giving myself good. There were a lot of things at play–from my misunderstanding of who God was, what I saw modeled around me, how I valued myself less than everyone else. It isn’t selfish to give only when you have something to give.
We don’t expect a broke person to donate money because they have no money. Most people don’t expect the mama of a newborn to do anything except try to get back on her feet and get in a rhythm with her baby. Why? Because she has no time or energy to give. We don’t expect someone who doesn’t know how to read to teach a classroom of people who don’t know how to read.
So, it only follows the same line of reasoning that we can’t expect to give in any form or fashion when we have nothing to give.
Sure, we can try to change our lifestyles to create margin to give from. And yes, we can recover, heal and rest to become more fully alive.
But before that? Before that, we can only give from what we have.
Last week, when my faith was buckling, I had nothing to give. I didn’t try to keep up with Average Advocate or Blackout Trafficking or emails (my side-jobs to being a homeschooling mama). I still had to give to my kids, but even there I found a little help from friends and let them watch screens a little more than normal. And I spent all my free time journaling to process what I was working through. I also allowed myself to be poured into by music, yoga, hiking in nature, prayer, affirmations over myself and situation (truth), asking for prayer in vulnerability, and looked for wisdom from other teachers (like my parents, in books and listening to a podcast and sermon).
At one point I wrote a few cards to encourage others. But that was for me too, as I know that sometimes giving encouragement to others increases my joy.
I didn’t feel guilty for any of this self-care and seeking help (although in the past I would have). Why? Because I knew that I had nothing to give. And that was okay. I accepted myself as I was–broken–and grace to be my life-source that week.
Hopefully you are catching onto the moral of this story as I give you a personal peak into my life: I choose to not pour from an empty cup anymore. And, I am still an advocate, activist, world-changer, justice-seeker!
I’ve know being full is best and overflowing is better.
Are You Buckling? Here Is How to Start Helping Yourself
I realize “Pandemic Processing”, this journaling workbook was born to help us overcome the struggles and changes we’ve experienced because of COVID-19. However, it is the same process I use (and therapists often use) to help people overcome areas they might feel stuck. I do coaching to help everyday difference-makers find purpose, set realistic goals, and not burn-out through Life Mapping. This type of coaching empowers us to move forward. But, it can be really hard to move forward when we are stuck.
When our faith is buckling, when we are heavy, and when we are burned-out, getting unstuck sometimes must come first. Maybe this is one of the greatest acts of self-care there is…to realize you need to stop trying to move and make a difference and instead, be still and go deep. How? Some people have very wise and empathetic family and friends to help them process. Many people find counselors and therapists. For me, journaling (usually in prayer) has my greatest tool to get unstuck and process the root of what is going on. Even when triggered on many different levels, journaling can help me sort it out.
If you realize I might be describing you, you and those you want to make a difference for need you to get to a healthier space. I am imploring you to make the commitment to do this. And if you need a place to start, do something simple: journal for fifteen minutes. Start with bullet-points of all the things in your mind if you don’t know how to get rolling. Or better yet, grab the free copy of Pandemic Processing. It will guide you through a tried-and-true method to get unstuck. It is a great starting point if you are feeling overwhelmed.
I am praying that if you’re feeling a little like you are drowning, you find some faith, hope and love in this time. Maybe read that set of scripture again above out-loud over yourself, take some deep breaths, and begin journaling.
If the idea of "purpose" always seemed a little vague to you or you don't have a lot of time to spare, this is for you!
Purpose Roadmap: Discover A Story Worth Living is a free mini-workbook with seven-destination points to help you intentionally choose what you want to let motivate you in life.
This was uplifting (and helpful!) to hear, Elisa. Thank you for the reminder that’s it’s okay to fill our cups.