Running on Empty
February 18 was a Tuesday disguised as a Monday. We were out of school on President’s Day. One would think that a three day weekend would have given me a bit more time to be prepared for the week ahead. Unfortunately, that was not the case. In my short 15 minute commute to work, my oil light and gas light lit up on my dash, shortly followed by a buzz and notification that my phone was about to die. I sort of chuckled and thought, “Yep, that seems about right,” and went on into school.
If this had happened on January 18, I would have had a very different response. To be honest, it would have probably ruined my day. These three notifications would have probably signaled a pretty irrational response that would have scared my kids in the backseat. Thankfully, on this Tuesday morning, my bucket was full. Have you heard of this saying before? Many teachers at my school, including myself, read the book, How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids with their students. The basic concept of this book is that we all have virtual buckets we access each day. When something positive happens, our bucket gets filled. When something negative happens, the bucket empties out a bit. We also talk to the kids about being bucket fillers or bucket dippers by asking the question, “Are you filling someone’s bucket or taking from it?”
Another aspect of this whole bucket analogy is that you can’t fill someone else’s bucket if yours is empty. I’m going to say that one more time- You can’t fill someone else’s bucket if your bucket is empty. I would bet there are plenty of parents out there running around with almost empty buckets. Being an adult and a parent is hard. There are so many daily demands on each of us. Pair that with negative interactions, personal struggles, and the crazy world surrounding us; it is a miracle we haven’t all thrown the towel in.
Last month, I took a trip with my husband. We were able to sneak away for a few days of rest and relaxation. I missed our kids like crazy, and cried multiple times, but I came back home with a full bucket. A few days away with zero responsibility allowed me the chance to breath. While I will give some credit to sunshine and salt air, they really aren’t the reasons why my bucket was full.
Have you ever heard of the term, “Let Go and Let God”? I’m really not the best at that. I’m definitely more of a “Hold On Real Tight and Micromanage.” I may have some control issues. However, once you leave the country and travel hundreds of miles away from your babies, you lose most of that control. When you are on a plane thousands of feet above the ground, you really aren’t in control anymore. It’s in moments like these when I realize that no matter how hard I try, I can’t control it all. Even though that is very scary for me, it is also so freeing. In hindsight, I can say that it wasn’t the ocean and full nights of sleep that filled my bucket. It was God’s peace and love. It was handing over my worries to him. It was leaning on him as I left my babies in someone else’s care. It was trusting him to keep all of us safe while we were apart.
I can’t tell you how many times I have come to this realization. I wish I could learn my lesson once and for all. I always fall back to my old ways. As we prepare for Easter during this Lent season, I am trying to remind myself of this every day. When my bucket is getting low, I can turn to God. He is the ultimate Bucket Filler. He can take the driest of buckets and make it overflow. However, he can’t fill it up if I don’t bring it to him. So if your bucket needs a little refill, turn to Him. AND… if you have some to spare, go fill someone else’s bucket today.