Running on empty

During these hard pandemic times, everyone has run out of steam.

When I hear the health experts talk on the news these days, I see people who are fed up saying the same things with little result. When the garage door slowly opens to reveal my weary dad, when my mum stands at the door with a carton of freshly baked scones in her hand because she’s unable to have us in, when my daughter comes to me with yet another hateful sheet of maths questions, when I realise I’ve heard more sighs than laughter from my children, when I look at the red ppe marks on our nurses’ and doctors’ faces, when case numbers are still relentlessly rising, when we realise it has been a year since we hugged our parents, we know we have had enough.

I wonder how ICU staff keep on getting up and going back into long days caring for patients with a sickness they’ve never encountered before. If one of those nurses was sitting in front of me I would ask them, what do you do when you’ve done all you can, when there’s nothing left to give?

What do you do when you’re running on empty? When you’re all out of patience with the people you found easy to like when you didn’t have to look at them every hour of every day? When you just want it all to go back to the way it was before?

When I feel like that, when I am wrung out, I stop working for a while. But then, if I can, I look about me for people who are not at the end of themselves yet, and use their strength instead. I hate doing that, but they don’t hate helping me. In fact, I’m learning that giving away some of yourself can actually increase your strength. When I put down a dinner that everyone likes I get a rush of satisfaction. When I make myself ask the family to help out, there’s a joy in watching them figure out how to do that.

When I’m running on empty I often find other things rise up. (Don’t apply that thinking to an empty petrol tank though!) Interestingly, it’s when I’m at my weakest that my best blog ideas appear, I remember others are struggling as well, I’m overwhelmed by the kindness of people around me and I fill myself up with their goodness to me.

All of us have enough, when we give it away.

What can you give to someone else today? Or how can you ask them to help you?

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