Running on Empty

Exalting Christ in community and mission

Running on Empty

You know those days that end with you sinking down into bed with a sigh (almost a cry) of relief?  Some days, by late afternoon, I am already dreaming of bedtime.

Some days I am in my pajamas by dinnertime.  But, they are cute pajamas, so my family doesn’t mind.  Too much.

And, then there are those days where from the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning, I am longing for the day to be finished.  I start out on empty.

Empty like when you are down to the last bit of peanut butter and you grab the handy-dandy scraper tool to get the last bits of sticky yummy out of the jar.  And, you go all around the edges, and under the rim, and you empty that jar.  Or, when you tip the jar of olive oil (or, hey, chocolate syrup!) upside down and let it drain out . . .

Empty.  Kaput.  No hay mas.  I am not having a day like that.  I am not having a week like that.  I am not having a month like that.  Actually, days these days are to be endured.

Teeth clenched.  Chin up.  Stiff upper lip.  Just make it ‘til bedtime.

These days I cocoon myself in a quilt woven out of these thoughts, “How long, O Lord?  Will You forget me forever?  How long will You hide Your face from me?  How long must I . . . have sorrow in my heart all the day?” (Ps. 13:1,2)  And, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”  (Ps. 10:1)  And, again, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.  My soul also is greatly troubled.  But You, O Lord – how long?” (Ps. 6:2,3)

Today I took my son out to do some back to school shopping, dragging that quilt behind me like a child’s blankie.  Now, I know some folks like shopping.  And, I’ve been told that some people actually look forward to “Black Friday.”  I, personally, would pay to NOT go shopping on Black Friday.  Shopping rates up there with root canals in my book.  I cringe, Grinchlike, at the thought of all the “Things. Things. Things. Things. THINGS.”   My hands are sweating and my heart is pumping even as I think about shopping.  Not kidding.  I affectionately refer to one of our more well know stores as “Hell-Mart.”  Not kidding.

So, I took my son to one store.  One.  That is pretty much one store too many for me.  It was a popular used clothing boutique.  (I actually looked up that word “boutique” since I wasn’t sure you would call it that if it sold clothing for guys as well as girls.  And, yes, you would.  And, so, yes it was a boutique.  Which sounds nicer than used clothing store.)

After our silent car ride up, because we are both introverts and I am an introvert running on empty, I went over to sit on a bench and wait.  And conserve my energy, which was draining out of me and leaking all over the floor.  I am glad the store clerks didn’t see it, because I am not sure how to clean up an energy spill.  Could ask BP I guess.

And, Benjamin walked over and handed me a pair of blue sport shoes.  When I saw the price I almost fell off the bench and into the energy puddle.  This was a used clothing store, friends.  As in, these were not new shoes.  Wide-eyed I looked up at him and he said, smiling,

“For my brother.”  No response from me.   “For Christmas.”  I am still uncomprehending.  “Could I get these for my brother?   With my money?  And save them for him until Christmas?”

Benjamin has been earning money this summer as a ditch –digger.  Literally.  I mean it.  I am not using that as a figure of speech.  And, did I mention that it is summer?  As in hot?  These shoes would cost him a long day of back-breaking labor.

Speechless I sat there as thoughts tumbled in my brain.  Benjamin and Cristian fight all the time.  All the time.  When the boys were in Peru, just after their biological mother died and before their biological father died, Benjamin, at age 6, had to take care of one and a half year old Cristian while their father was at work.  Sometimes I don’t even think Benjamin likes Cristian.  And, who could blame him?  That was a big burden for a little boy to bear.

And, then.  The shoes.

I never want to discourage any movement towards generosity in my children.  Even when I am pretty sure they have not fully considered the cost.  Because I do not want to interfere with the work the Holy Spirit is doing in them.  And, I do not want to deprive them of any future rewards.

So, Benjamin bought the shoes.  And on the way home he was smiling.  And talking about Christmas.  And about how he couldn’t wait to see the look on Cristian’s face.

And, I reminded him of my gift closet at home, which is off limits to the kids, where I store up goodies for loved ones.  And, I told him that part of the joy of giving is that anticipation that he was now experiencing.  And, I told him about how our Heavenly Father stores up treasures for His children and waits to see the look on our faces in Glory.  (Ps. 31:19)

And, I am able to loosen that quilt a little bit.  Maybe I will fold it and put it on my bed.  Next to my cute pajamas.  Just until bedtime.

@Awara Fernandez, 2015 Permission is granted to reproduce this article in its entirety

Photograph by Amanda Fernandez

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