Seeing the red light blinking that I’m almost out of gas and having a mini panic attack knowing how much farther I need to drive is how I feel when I’m depleted emotionally and physically in my care-giving responsibilities. Even an avid, well seasoned, and trained runner might say some of the same things we do, when we realize we’re running on empty:
“I’m SO tired!”
“I can’t do this anymore.”
“I just want to quit.”
“I have nothing left.”
We’ve sad those words – many times. Which phrase have you repeated? Or perhaps you have a few of your own:
Exhaustion is the KEY word for one with someone with special needs. While speaking at a conference on marriage, a gal said to us, “I am a special education teacher. My husband and I thought I was well qualified for what I was doing, and decided to adopt a child with special needs. We had no idea what we were in for. It is so much more difficult, challenging, exhausting, and frustrating than we could ever have imagined.”
For some of us, we run the race of this journey hard, fast, and for a long time, but at some point, there is something that is bound to stop us – or try to stop us! It might be:
- A deteriorating marriage
- Siblings showing signs of rebellion
- Our own health issues as a result of stress and pressures
- Financial burdens
- Yours: _______________________
Often we don’t recognize fatigue until we can’t put one foot in front of the other any longer. We need to build safety rails to keep us on the right path for the long haul. Not only are training exercises and practice needed in running a good race, but so are boundaries. If you’re running on empty and feeling the need to disqualify yourself from the race, step off the path for a moment, get a grip, and then continue. Here are a few things to help us get a grip:
- A faithful friend who’ll run with us – who we can call when we feel like we’re losing it.
- Avoiding negative thinkers and negative projects – we need encouragers!
- Asking those close to us to hold us up when we need help (prayer included!).
- Finding a hobby to learn new things that are fun and give us a break from time to time.
- Learning to let go of that which we have no control.
We can’t do everything all at once – but adding a few things at a time to help build stamina and endurance is the key. But we can do little things along the way to make a difference, so we can go from running on empty to running on a full tank – and for the long haul!