In 1987, Miller Lite came out with a commercial containing the slogan "great taste, less filling." This phrase became iconic of the decade, and of the beer. Being a child of the 80's myself, I recalled this commercial last week, but it wasn't over a beer, it was during a critical point in my week when I realized something that I believe too many of us ignore.
After a counseling session with my pastor a few years back, I became aware of something going on in my life that I had completely overlooked. After talking for some time and evaluating where I was at in my life-spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically-it became apparent to my pastor what was wrong. My emotional tank was on empty.
I hadn't even thought about that. I figured there was something I was doing wrong or maybe some kind of chemical imbalance. I guess I didn't give my emotions enough credit. I also found myself at a loss for a solution. When I was physically down, I could eat right and exercise. When I was mentally taxed, I could play a game or read a book. Spiritually, I could care for my soul by spending time with the Lord and filling up on His Word. But what does one do to fill the emotions? How do you keep that part of your life healthy? What do you fill it with?
I think the answer partially lies in this: I was filling up emotionally with the wrong things.
To start, I was spending exorbitant amounts of time on social media, and we all know that can be a buzz kill. All of those perfectly beautiful people with their awesomely perfect lives, amazing children, great jobs, huge houses, and world travel, not to mention all the hanging out that is going on between mutual friends that you feel left out of. You know what i mean. We've all felt the pressure.
I was also expelling too much emotional energy keeping up appearances and pleasing people and maintaining one-sided friendships. I would attend social events where I would have the same surface conversations with the same people and never get to the heart of who they were or even talk about spiritual things, despite the fact that we shared a common faith in God. A soul just can't thrive on that. We often ask each other, "How are you?" But, I'm talking about, "How are you, really?" Are you really good?
And when it comes to schedules, I am the worst. I confess that I am a plate filler. Life is like a buffet and I fill my plate to the brim leaving little room for anything else. Our calendars are so full that every minute of our days are taken up by something, yet we can't seem to say "no" to anything. I got to a point where I felt like other's owned my time and I never felt truly refreshed after a weekend.
Since then, I have come to that same place of emotional exhaustion, later realizing the error of my ways. Last week was no different. It all came to a head. I was sad and disappointed. I was confused by some present circumstances and, to be honest, feeling pretty sorry for myself. My understanding husband, gave me his blessing to go hang out in a hipster coffee shop and journal, since he knows full well that is what makes my soul super happy and refreshed.
I packed a bag with my computer, my class book for the women's elective at church, my journal, and my bible. I figured I could get a lot of work done. (So much for regenerating, right?) But when I got to the coffee shop and sat down with my peach blossom tea, God had other plans. Or, should I say, He had me cornered. ;)
I opened my lap top to work on my blog and couldn't get a good connection. I opened my class book, but didn't have a pen, and neither did anyone around me. I couldn't work. I couldn't study. And I couldn't journal. That left one thing: My Bible. (Trusting, in this season of life, has been pretty difficult for me, so to say I was avoiding listening to God is probably a pretty accurate assumption.)
So there I was, me and my Bible. I started flipping through, feeling a little annoyed. "Ok Lord, what should I read?" That's when I felt God lay the topic of emotions on my heart. I began to think back on my past emotional struggles and recognized that I was in the middle of a similar season. I was emotionally exhausted-totally spent. But I still struggled with the question: How does one fill emotionally?
So I began to research with the one contraption in my purse that worked-my phone. I looked up scripture on what God says about our emotions and emotional healing. I began to read a long list of of verses, and as I read, tears started streaming down my face. It was quite the moment since all the hipsters had been giving me looks like they never saw a pregnant person before when I first walked in. I also happened to be sitting in the window of the coffee shop and there were people sitting near me inside and outside. I sat there, covered my face with my hands and kept reading...and crying.
The verses hit me to the core, but also brought me so much comfort. I realized in that moment what God was saying. I had filled and filled up with things that don't truly satisfy, or they may for a time, but fade quickly. I had tried to fill the emotional void with people and things that exhausted me and didn't satisfy. I compromised quality time with the Lord and investing in others for surface time on social media and making it all about me.
Allow me to share some of the verses I read:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
~2 Corinthians 12:9
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Here is the link to the rest of the verses: http://www.openbible.info/topics/emotional_healing
If you find yourself in the same spot as me and realize that you are spent, I hope that you can find rest and healing at the feet of Jesus. I know that He will fill you up to overflowing and put people and things in your life that fuel your soul. While we don't want to be self focused, we need to recognize the rest and rejuvenation that we need to remain effective. I am officially giving you permission to be exhausted and to take time to rest-no judgement! Fill up and keep fighting the good fight.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
This verse often serves to remind me that resting and refueling is part of running. Going back to our beer quote (of all things...haha!!!), the things we fill up on may taste good and they may even be very good things, but they won't satisfy the soul the way that God does. Come to Him all you who are weary and heavy laden [in heart] and find your rest today.