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I had a big meltdown the other day. There was nothing big that started it. Just one more expectation placed on me by my family that become one expectation too many. And it took me two full days to work my way out of my funk.
Because this life thing can be hard. It can be overwhelming. Nineteen years ago I got married and agreed to let another person be a huge part of my world. Thirteen years ago I had a baby and agreed to put someone else’s needs above my own. Eleven years ago, I had another baby and started learning that this mom thing is a whole lot more draining than I ever thought it could be.
As women we wear a ton of different hats — so many that some days we’re not sure who we really are under all those hats. I always have this picture in my mind of the book Caps for Sale where the guy has a stack of different caps that he wears on his head. Here’s a picture for those of you who have never read the book. See his stack of caps? I sometimes feel like they’re all on my head.
But back to my meltdown. Having a pre-teen and a teen in the house means we have an awful lot of hormones raging. It also means that my girls need an awful lot of attention. I honestly feel like I did when my girls were toddlers. By the end of the day, I simply fall into bed exhausted — only instead of being physically exhausted, I’m emotionally worn out.
The other day, my emotional cup was empty — bone dry like a desert. And my husband had the misfortune of needing one more thing from me. And I kind of lost it. Not the scream and yell kind of lose it, but the cry all day for no apparent reason kind of losing it with no really good explanation for what was wrong.
But in the middle of that complete meltdown, I was forced to really think about what the root issue was. You know what I discovered? The real root issue was that I’m tired. I’m tired in a way I haven’t been since my girls were babies and toddlers. And I’m not just physically and emotionally tired. I’m spiritually tired.
For the past 15 years or so, I’ve been writing blogs, leading Bible studies, and teaching children and youth. And all those things are good, but I can’t remember the last time I was part of a Bible study or women’s group that I didn’t have something to do with leading. I don’t remember the last time I went to an event that I didn’t have a leadership responsibility for. I don’t remember the last time I simply did something to fill up my spiritual cup.
Truthfully, my quiet time with God has become a rushed affair, stuck in somewhere in the day that I could grab 10 minutes. One more thing to check off the list. Oh, I’ve been speaking and writing and ministering to others, but I’ve really been doing it from my spiritual reserves, not an everyday filling up on God’s love and truth.
And when you do that, you eventually run dry. You eventually reach the point where the expectations everyone has for you are too much, where the stack of hats on your head starts to wobble and fall, where you don’t have any grace, love, joy or wisdom to offer anyone else.
So, we’re re-ordering the priorities around here. My husband and I are trying to make sure I have time every day to fill up my spiritual cup. Time to take care of me. We’re trying to create enough space between the practices and the homework and the needs of two teenage girls to make sure mom has enough time to fill herself up — physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Because we can’t be the moms our kids need us to be unless we are first taking care of ourselves. If we try to do it, we will eventually end up melting down. We’ll end up at the end of the rope without a whole lot of strength left to hold on.
So, if your cup is empty, if you’re worn down and on the verge of a meltdown worthy of a two-year-old, take a minute to evaluate what the root cause is. It may be that you’re not taking the time to fill yourself up with Jesus so you can be everything that your family needs you to be. And if that’s the case, figure out what you need to do to make time with Jesus happen. Because that time will pay dividends that your whole family will appreciate.