by Mary Katherine Backstrom
It was actually kind of funny to watch, in a mean way. The white Lexus SUV puttered to a stop about one mile from the gas station, and the driver absolutely lost his mind. He jumped out of the car in a slick, cream suit and proceeded to kick the tires. His hands flailed around as obscenities poured from his mouth. He grabbed his phone to send out an angry text, or maybe an SOS, then he proceeded to throw it into the grass.
The next few minutes were spent shouting, swearing, and cursing the earth he walked on. And then, just like that, he stopped. He grabbed his phone, shut the door, and locked up the car. As cars whizzed by, his shoulders slumped forward and he walked. Down the hill, toward the Chevron.
Out of gas. Sucks pretty bad.
This week, I was a shiny white Lexus. Cruising along in life, sharing adorable pictures of my sweet Nugget, boasting about the wonderful time I’ve had visiting family in Alabama, relishing in the joy of second trimester pregnancy (thank God for Diclegis), and generally loving my awesome, awesome life.
It all looked good, felt good, and was good. Until it wasn’t.
I, too, puttered out on the side of the road unexpectedly. My joy ride ended and I was as shocked as anybody when the fumes dried up. There I was, stranded in a mess of my own making, with the shame of my seemingly perfect life exposed like a clunker on the side of the road.
I know this probably comes as a HUGE surprise, but my life isn’t perfect. I’m in and out of church, my kid pitches fits in Publix, and my diet consists of toddler left overs and ridiculously expensive lattes. Or maybe this doesn’t surprise you, because you are human and you expect others to be, as well.
Well, for whatever reason I expect more from myself. My child needs to sleep through the night, my house needs to be kept neat, and my waistline should be slimmer than a Kardashian’s. And for goodness sake, I’m a writer: I should be writing things.
But lately, at night, my kid wakes up. My house is a wreck. My chubby waist is hiding my fifth month of pregnancy and I haven’t been getting published.
And despite all those warning signs, I never stopped to acknowledge that maybe–just maybe–my fuel light was on.
Today, I had to stop moving. Because today there was nothing left to make me move. I ran out of energy and laughter and encouragement. I ran out of patience and kindness and strength. It was both embarrassing and beautiful, because as it turns out–stopping was necessary for my healing.
I’m here now, on the shoulder of the road, assessing the problems that brought me to a stop.
I haven’t taken time to rest. I haven’t been seeking God, and my spirit is yearning for His love. I have been digitally over-connected until the circuits of my brain got fried. I have been going and going and going
When my entire being was yelling STOP.
So today, I stop. Today, I’m going to take the minutes, hours, or days it takes to recharge my heart. To energize my faith. To give and receive love from the people who are physically around me. To see clearly a world I’ve been zipping around, but not engaging in.
I’m out of gas, and it sucks pretty bad.
But it’s not hopeless. As alone as I feel in this moment, I’m far from stranded. This is really just an inconvenience; I know that. So when I’m done throwing my hands around and cursing the ground, I’m gonna lock up shop. I’m gonna grab my little gas can. And I’m gonna walk the hill toward the source of my strength. It may be a bit of a hike, but I know the way.
I’ll get there.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11: 28-30