One day last week, my husband asked for a glass of juice and I yelled at him.
No seriously. I think I actually cursed at him.
Because of a glass of juice.
Well, not really.
He asked for that juice at approximately 2:05pm, which coincided with the first moment I sat down for a break all day. Just like that. I sat down, opened my laptop, and he asked for the juice.
I flipped out. All stinkin’ day long I had been doing stuff for other people. Some was planned, some not so much. I had been to the school three times already, and still had a fourth trip scheduled for 2:30pm. I was just trying to squeeze in a tiny little bit of me time. Maybe a few minutes on Facebook. Maybe a chance to read my email. Nothing extravagant like Hulu or glimpses at my Kindle. Nope. Just a bit of connecting with other humans who didn’t need me to do something for them.
And then it came… “Is there any apple juice left? Would you grab me a glass?”
“Are you kidding?” I practically screamed. “What am I? Your slave? Are your feet broken? Is your butt super glued to the chair?!”
My poor husband looked shell shocked. It really wasn’t hit fault, after all, but his question just put me over the top. All day long (I know it was only 2pm but when your day starts before the sun comes up that means anytime after lunch feels like bedtime) people wanted a piece of me. When he asked for the juice, he threatened to take the last piece. The last piece of me.
I was empty.
And oh-so-NOT patient.
(Anyone else ever felt this way? Ever?)
In fact, I threw such a little temper tantrum (it may have only lasted 60 seconds, but it had all the door slamming, face scowling, mouth cursing, and foot stomping you need to make a good tantrum) that I pretty much immediately recognized my ridiculousness and my problem. Here’s the thing: I’m involved in so many activities where I’m giving of myself (either as a wife, a mom, a missionary, a coach, a friend, or neighbor), that my “bucket” is being emptied pretty quickly each week. I think a lot of us feel this way. And church is great for helping me refuel, as well as my self-study of the Bible and prayer time, but it’s just not enough to keep enough pieces of me in place to satisfy all of my obligations.
So what’s missing?
Back home, when I went through similar periods of being busy giving, I had enjoyed a weekly mom’s group where we not only studied God’s word together but also discussed practical applications into our daily lives. We ate yummy treats, gabbed about our kids, and prayed for each other. And some of us also got together monthly for other activities, like book club or just regular lunch dates. In short, we encouraged one another and helped fill each others’ buckets back up for the coming week.
Oh have I missed those days!
This is an unfortunate side effect of us being independent missionaries: We don’t have a group of people here with whom we are required to meet regularly for encouragement, debriefing, and support. But we need that! God tells us that true fellowship — as He ordains it, full of love and acceptance — is in the business of filling up those proverbial buckets! When we spend time with people who accept us, regardless of our faults, and treat us as if our needs are more important than their own… doesn’t it make us feel amazing… ready to tackle the next hurdle, and give of ourselves back to those around us! What a wonderful cycle that makes, where we are each filling one another up, so we can turn around and receive from each other. (Philippians 2:1-10)
God knew about my need for fellowship and provided a way. Within four days of my little tantrum — and my subsequent acceptance that I in fact had a problem — I had a Bible study and a book club, neither of which I had to create! A group of women from another mission group invited me to join their Bible study and I started on Monday. Then, that same evening, I got an invitation from another friend to join a new book club. Oh what a breath of fresh air those activities are to my very soul! Being away from it has made me realize how much I absolutely crave this sort of community and fellowship with others, and especially other believers. It complements my alone time, my family time, and my church time so well, and helps to “top off” that little bucket I mentioned previously.
Thankfully, not only do I have a gracious God, but I also have a pretty understanding spouse. I did go and get him the juice, by the way, and I didn’t even spit it in on the way back to his desk.
How about you? How do you make sure you’re bucket is full enough so you don’t go all tantrumy on those around you?