Running on Empty: The Best Place to Be

fuel_gauge_analogI’ve never run out of gas but I’ve come awfully close.  So I can only imagine the helpless feeling it can cause, especially if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.  Running on empty isn’t a place we like to be, even as a mom.  But is it possible that it’s really the best place to be?

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed in my life.  When I’m trucking along and the journey is smooth sailing, I tend to depend less on God.  I’ve got the wheel (and have no intentions of belting out, “Jesus take the wheel”).  Because you see, I’m managing just fine.

What if God were to leave us like that?  What if there were no bumps in the road?  Or no crashes?  What if we never ran out of gas?  As much as that sounds like a great thing, it’s not reality.  And it’s not the best place to be.

Whenever I look back on some of the more difficult moments in my life, I notice a pattern.  It’s not until I’m running on fumes or completely out of gas that I truly recognize my need for Him.

One year in particular stands out.  It was several years ago when over a nine month period my life went completely topsy-turvy.  I put my 5th grader into public school, after he had been homeschooled up until then.  A week later I put my other two into the same school.  All I can say was that it was an extremely difficult transition (not for them but for me).

Our house was broken into, we decided to move from said house, we bought a new house that we moved into a week before Christmas (may I remind you that I live in the wintry state of Wisconsin) and for almost a year owned two homes.  Needless to say we were financially struggling and had to keep up two homes (which included shoveling).

In the midst of this, my husband (who was a store manager) was moved to another store in the neighboring state of Illinois, so he was suddenly commuting and not home as much as our family would have liked.  And he was putting miles on an older vehicle that was constantly needing repairs.

The icing on the cake was my daughter’s first negative experience in public school (she was in 2nd grade).  She caught lice from another student.  And she had it bad.  I spent hours and hours combing them out of her long, brown hair.  During which I cried and cried.  I was a complete basket case and close to having a nervous breakdown.  Oh, but if that wasn’t enough—I got lice!  Let me just take a moment here to say that you know you have a good friend when she’s willing to comb the lice out of your hair.  Well, there’s just simply no more I can say about all of this.  I nearly pulled my children out of school.

But there was one more stressful event that occurred during this nine month period.  My youngest son (who was in kindergarten) had a very bad asthma attack that scared me to death.  It took several treatments and medication to get him breathing normal again.

I don’t think it’s any surprise that I was running on empty—in every way possible.  Physically, spiritually and emotionally depleted.  And I’m not even mentioning the strain it put on my marriage.  So if anyone would have told me I was in the best place, I would have punched them in the nose.

Yet when I look back, it’s the truth.  I really was in the best place.  Space and time doesn’t allow me to share the many, many lessons God taught me.  Not only about Him but about myself as a child of God, a wife and a mother.

I don’t know what you’re going through right now.  I don’t know if you are running on empty.  Or if that will be your situation sometime in the future.  But I can tell you this, it’s in that place we come to the end of who we are and realize who He is.  Never does His faithfulness become more evident than when we have nothing within.  Never do we feel more full of Him than when we are completely empty of self.  It really is the best place to be.

© 2014, Stephanie Romero


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