Fill Your Tank in the New Year

Of all the book titles I have encountered, Daniel Handlers, “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” has by far felt the most relatable to me. 

At times, on the more eventful days, it is painful to reflect on just how chaotic the day can be!

Recently, in the midst of the chaos of the Christmas season once such day stood out to me. In the course of 24 hours I had attempted to cram every good and right thing in.

In the spirit of fitting it all in, I woke up early determined to exercise, like a good girl.  The only downside to this plan was that I had stayed up well into the night the evening before coaching my son for an anticipated audition.  Despite my fatigue, I rolled out of bed, begging my body to wake up so that I could face the day telling myself that I can manage all things, including a work out!

Unfortunately, my time management skills were slightly off base and it wasn’t long before I was running late. Of course, I was checking off the boxes so I had eggs boiling, ready to provide a quick nutritious breakfast to myself and my preschool son.  My discouragement for my lack of time was replaced by the pride of my planning win.

I moved forward into what proved to be a false sense of security when I looked in to the mirror and realized that my hair was a beast to be tamed. I put on makeup, while checking “professional” off the list, and relied on curlers to subdue the wild hair.

In the 3-5 minutes that I spent studying myself in the mirror I remembered the preschooler.  What else could he be doing but pouring cheerios on the ground and rifling through candy?  Somewhere in the chaos I had not provided him the carefully planned egg breakfast.

Seconds later, in what now was a race against the clock, I discovered that my son’s shoes were nowhere to be found.  Typically, he throws them off in the car, and because he is incredibly reliable, that is exactly where they were.  But, I chuckled to myself knowing that I’m frantically searching through my car in the front yard, curlers still working their magic in my hair.

Shoes on, kid in hand, we dashed out and I buckled him.  My job relies on the fact that I’m timely and I was just about to check “not too late” off my list when my son declared that he had a bathroom emergency and he needed to attend to that NOW!

We attended to his bathroom business, buzzed back out to the car and as I began to start the car I realized that I had misplaced my keys.  The “Series of Unfortunate Events” really began to kick into high gear at this point.

I had just had those keys because we had already performed a trial car loading procedure just moments ago. I began frantically searching.  Giving up meant that I would not have keys to my office and would be forced to walk through the front door, sort of an office “walk of shame,” admitting to all that I could not use the employee entrance like my responsible coworkers!

I managed to find my keys and start the car only to realize that it was cold outside and I was missing my sweater. I returned to the front door to discover that my house key was not on my key ring because, of course, I had recently removed it for a house sitter.

Locked out and stressed, I resolved to add “cold” to the list along side “late.”

I sped up to my church to drop of my son. I didn’t even bother to use a parking spot, but instead just took advantage of the front door curb. Still hoping to check “good Mom” off the list, I calmly walked him up to the classroom door and then hurried out the front door.

Finally, I had made it to the car. I could put the frantic morning behind me and prepared my mind to relax on my short drive to work and take advantage of the quiet moment. Like I mentioned, this is a series of events and it was at this moment I looked down to see that my gas indicator light was on. Indicating that my tank was empty.  At that moment I smiled to myself.  I felt that light in my soul.    

Like any responsible, late adult, I studied the number that declared the miles I could confidently drive on “empty” to work and determined that I could in fact get there on whatever was left in the tank. 

My car was going to make it, but what about me?!

Having an empty gas tank was the perfect way to end to that part of my day.  I had barely made it past breakfast and I definitely felt like I was running on empty. Realizing I was out of gas on many levels allowed me to stop and reflect on my life as I am entering 2024.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to run on fumes.  I don’t want to spend my time calculating time and energy to see if I have enough of it to make it through the day.

Much of the time, I can’t prevent the series of events that are wearisome, inconvenient, or test my patience.  My plan isn’t to hide away in my home or away from people but rather to engage in the world on a full tank. 

This is an invitation to you and myself to reflect on our priorities for the new year. We only have so much time and energy to give; in order to run on our fullest tank we will need to conserve our energy and spend it in our most valuable places.  For most of us, that means laying aside the things we can in order to make more space.  For me, that means trusting that the Lord will work and provide, as he always does, in the places where I can no longer use my energy.  

However, the goal isn’t actually to stay in perpetual motion, powered by the most energy efficient fuel, but also to REST! Sometimes we forget that rest is fuel.  We aren’t simply seeking to let go, but also pursuing places of rest.

 Psalm 23:1-2 offers a vision of rest:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

The Lord will lead us to the greenest pastures and the calmest waters, lets follow Him in to 2024. 

Catharine Griffin was born and raised in Covington, Georgia. She earned an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary in 2012. She enjoys mentoring and discipling college women and is currently doing so at East Texas Baptist University. She is passionate about hearing people's stories and helping people see their potential in Christ and serves this calling out as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate. She has also been coordinating ministry to women for several years in various churches and longs to equip women to serve the church with biblically sound teaching. She is a mother to three boys, wife to a Baptist Student Minister, and enjoys teaching, writing, cooking and all things outside.

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