Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | March 5, 2011

Fill ‘Er Up

Late last week I was just crabby – I had some free floating anger and everything made me edgy. My temper was a bit too quick with my kids and I was a wreck. My husband really wanted to make it better (men like to fix things, you know), but to no avail. I just needed to work it off, so I hid in my office and worked.

Saturday night was ladies movie night at church and I had already said I’d be there, so despite the fact that I really just felt like staying home, in my crabbiness, off I went. Sitting there, among friends, some of the angry knots tied up inside me began to loosen.

I like to tell a good story, so I was recounting the terrible events (that really weren’t so terrible) that led me to my angry state. In the midst of it all, I realized something. I had missed church on Wednesday night and it was from that point in time that my week began sliding down hill.

Now, some think that teaching a grade school choir would add stress to my week. But for me, it is the exact opposite. I love those kids. And nothing keeps you humble and reprioritizes things like 45 minutes wrangling some munchkins, teaching them to sing with all their heart and perform with wreckless abandon.

When choir is over, and we open the doors, I have some of the best 10-20 minutes of the week. You see, the prayer meeting lets out in the room two doors down, and all the folks leaving there have to walk right by our door. I stand in the hall and hug one person after another. I am greeted with smiles, questions about my family, concerns for how work is going, and a lot of hugs.

My life is hectic. I am raising three kids (12, 8 and 3 months), I work a more-than-full-time job with a lot of pressure, and we just have a lot going on. One thing I am terrible about is taking time to fill up the gas tank in my car. I tend to drive until the low fuel warning comes on, then I push my trip counter and see just how far I can push it. One of these days I am going to get stranded, completely out of gas.

I live this way too; most of us do. All too often, our tank runs on empty. Tough things happen in our lives and we keep driving, surviving on fumes. We tell ourselves that we need to tougen up, push forward, don’t show any weakness.  We find a support group for our angry or negative feelings and spend all our energy staying mad, or self-righteous, or justified in our anger. We are running on empty.

What we really need- what I needed last week – was to fill back up. Wednesday nights at Winnwood are my pit stop. The first half of the night I am with ankle-biters between the age of 6 and 11; the second half I am hugging a line of beautiful people who are, by and large, 20-30 years my senior. For me, this hour in the middle of the week is rejeuvenating. It washes away the stress and axiety of the first half of the week and shores me up for the second half. What I realized last Saturday is that I need my Wednesday nights.

We all have stuff.  Life is hard. It is easy to let the pressure and pain of this life tie you up in knots. If we don’t pay attention and find something to fill us back up again, we run on empty. Run on empty too long and you will break down.

I have had a bit of a stressful week, yet again. But I made it to church on Wednesday and this time I made it through Friday without turning into a maniac. Tomorrow I’ll fill up again.

What fills you up? Just like you can’t fill your gas tank with sugar, you can’t refuel your soul with something false. It might give you a jump start, but in the end, it’ll break you down even more. If you haven’t found it yet, take some time to do so. It’s not selfish, or weak, or indulgent. It is necessary. Check your gauge. If the fuel light is on, it’s time to pull over and fill ‘er up.



  1. I filled up at Special Olympics last week! I too got lots of hugs. I coached and cheered for all the athletes (my cheeks hurt from smiling and my voice hurt from yelling “Go, go, go!” and then relaxed with the other volunteers as we looked at all the pictures.

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