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Running on Empty

Look to God to refill your spiritual tank.

The last of my things were squeezed into my suitcase. I dragged the luggage and myself down the elevator, out the door of the hotel, and into the airport shuttle. I was zapped.

Just the night before I had been filled to the brim with joy, with energy, with God. I had gathered with thousands of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) leaders for training, and I had been renewed. The next morning, however, I felt like a juice box that had been sucked dry. Not only was there nothing left, I felt a little caved in and crumpled. It's a good thing it's over, I thought as I crawled off the shuttle to wait in line for my flight.

But it wasn't over. As I stood, dazed and drowsy, two moms approached me, excited to see a fellow MOPS-aholic. They wanted a few moments to talk about what a wonderful event we'd just experienced. So I dug inside myself and came up with—zilch. I have to admit that I didn't handle this moment well. These women had wanted little more than a minute of fellowship, but they walked away looking as empty as I felt. If I'd known I needed just a bit more energy, I might have been able to muster some. But I thought I was done.

This moment comes back to me when I think about the sometimes draining work of parenting. In my everyday attempts to provide for my kids, I often lean on God's faithfulness to provide enough of me for them. In many of these moments, he lovingly helps me stay sane and calm as I negotiate the changing schedules and the unpredictable traffic with amazing grace.

It's not these moments that are hard. It's when I pull into the garage, turn off the engine, and let out a sigh of relief, only to watch an exasperated child burst through the door and announce that he needs his shirt washed and ready to wear in a half an hour. It's when I'm heading down the hall late at night with visions of a bubble bath dancing in my head and I hear the urgent call of a child who needs her paper formatted on the computer right now. That's when it's hard. When I think I'm done and I'm not.

The hard truth of mothering is that we're never done. Not when they sleep through the night. Not when they learn to use the potty—finally. Not when they trot off to kindergarten or get their driver's license. It's not even over when they walk across the stage to receive their diploma or down the aisle to join hands with their future spouse.

But the beautiful truth is that the joys of raising children are never ending as well. The delight of a baby's laugh as you tickle his knees. The tenderness of a child's little hand as it reaches for yours. The strength of a teenager's embrace as she celebrates her team's victory. These are the moments God gives us to recharge our depleted batteries.

Jesus understood the unending nature of relationships here on earth. Mark 1:32-33 describes him healing Peter's mother-in-law. Later that evening, "the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door and Jesus healed many who had various diseases." His final moments on the cross punctuate the demands of life on earth when he at last could exhale, "It is finished." But that isn't the end of the story. Jesus continued his relationship with the people he loved. He continues it today. He is never finished with us and the work he can do in us and through us.

Elisa Morgan is president of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International. Her most recent books are Make Room for Daddy, with Carol Kuykendall (Zondervan) and A Love Like No Other (Multnomah), For information about a mops group in your area, call (800) 929-1287.

March/April 2002, Vol. 14, No. 4, Page 56

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