You cannot pour from an empty cup.
I am a giver. By nature, I am supportive, devoted, invested, and loyal. I take pride in doing my best to keep my word when I give my word. I am a friend…you will never have to wonder if I am going to “be there” in times of both trouble and celebration. *Breaks out singing “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson Five* I often tend to give 100% of myself to each person and each task (unless I just don’t want to). It is not uncommon for me to over friend (overbook) myself and even to give away my very few moments of uninterrupted free time/me time to another obligation, request, or loved one. I am a giver.
I am a doer. I tend to take initiative and assume a leadership role in many cases. I become the “den mother” everywhere I go making sure everyone is taken care of and that all that needs to be done is done. It isn’t a problem for me to move here, shake there, lift this, give that, lead them, teach her, show him, drive y’all, carry those, and answer it. At the end of the day, what needs to be done must be done, and if I can help do it, so be it. I am a doer.
I am tired. Actually, I am exhausted — mentally, emotionally, and physically. I often times give, do, and be to my detriment…until I have NO more…until I am depleted. Despite my best efforts and obvious fatigue, I will still beat myself up on the premise that I didn’t do or give enough. (I can’t please everyone.) So what do I do? I give, do, and be some more until I am empty. I am tired.
Have you ever been to a restaurant where the waiter refills each of the customer’s cups with water from a pitcher? In those moments, he will move from person to person replenishing cups with “high quality H20” so that no one is without. (Reference from The Waterboy.) With that in mind, have you ever noticed what the waiter does when the pitcher is empty? Does he continue going through the motions only rendering drops of water into each person’s cup? Does he proceed to the next cup with nothing remaining but the condensation on the pitcher? Uh, no he doesn’t
especially if he wants a tip. The waiter tells the customers that he will return, disappears into the kitchen, goes to the water source, and refills his pitcher so he can continue pouring.
How much are you giving, doing, and being? Does it seem like every time you catch your breath there is another burden, whether good or bad, that requires your attention? Do you feel stretched thin to the point of breaking. Here’s what I have learned: even things that you love and love to do can drain you. It is my pleasure to be a friend, “Auntie Dude” to everybody’s kids, a leader, a student, a mentor, a motivator, a few people’s 911, and even a shoulder to cry on. I take pride in always putting my best foot forward to get the job done, and I enjoy seeing others relieved when I can help them. But “What about what I need? What about what’s best for me? What about how I feel? What about me? What about me?” (Dreamgirls reference sung in my best Effie White voice!) With 15 hour days, hustle and bustle, school, work, church, and my required #adulting, I am currently one breath from burn out. I am literally crawling to any kind of vacation, staycation, or free moment where I can lock myself in a closet. I have learned from previous burnouts that I am not effective when I am empty — just like the customers in the restaurant are still thirsty when the pitcher is empty. Furthermore, I am MEAN as a snake! 😉
“The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide, and to shield me], I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life);”
Psalm 23:1-3 [Amplified Bible]
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
“You cannot pour from an empty cup.” You cannot give what you don’t have. When you are empty, you aren’t as useful. Plain and simple…simple and plain. Selah.
Among several things, a car runs on fuel. It doesn’t matter how beautiful a car is, if there is no gas in the tank, it can not operate. Imagine filling up your gas tank, starting your car, and driving for miles and miles. Even with controlled speed and good gas mileage, eventually your tank that was once full will become empty. As hard as you may try and as much and you may desire, you CANNOT keep going without gas. At best, you can only be pushed using more effort than intended or pulled costing your more than you bargained for. You ever notice how much more expensive a tow is compared to a tank of gas. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that driving until your tank is almost empty allows trash to enter the car’s engine. (Not being full of the right thing leaves much room for the wrong things to occupy that space — examples: complaints, worry, stress, discord, depression, etc.) Though the car is equipped with a low fuel light and maybe even a reserve tank, proper car maintenance recommends that you refuel before you reach that point. <– That might explain why I’m mean as a snake when I’m near burnt out!
The scripture above paints a picture of the refilling process. #1: The giver temporarily stopped being the one who pours to be poured into. <— The waiter taking his empty pitcher and walking away from the table. This will require you, me…us to realize that we aren’t operating with our own measures. We are connected to a limitless source that allows us to give within limits but be replenished as often as necessary. This also requires us to not be so prideful that we “fake full” when we know good and well that we are empty. Moving on! #2: The giver is allowed a moment to rest in a meadow and is led to a still and quiet stream — it offers both refreshment and peace. <– Maybe this is the kitchen in the restaurant. Though the waiter still has to connect to the source, he is momentarily free from the demands of the customers at the table. He finally got a break!!! #3: While pulled away from the takers, given the opportunity to rest, and surrounded by blessed quietness, holy quietness (hymn reference), God “refreshes and restores” his life. <– The waiter placing his pitcher under the flow of the water source…the actual refilling. Yaaaassss, get yo life, David!!! Side note: Did you notice he couldn’t be refilled while still actively “doing?” Yeah boo, you’re going to have to shut down at least one moment so you can be taken care of. Even Walmart temporarily closes all lines at midnight to change over the money and replenish the registers. You are more important than Walmart even with their “Low, low prices…always.”
So when will you take a moment to be refreshed, to rest, to have an opportunity to be restored, recharged, and refilled? Again I repeat, you cannot pour from an empty cup. It won’t make you a bad parent, a horrible friend, or even an terrible leader if you allow yourself a moment to not give, do, or be. Oooooo, and mama taught me that those who need you will find someone else to need if you leave them be long enough, and if they don’t move on, they’ll still need you in just a minute. Self care will always be the best care, and when you are your best self, you are more effective to touch lives. I challenge you (aaaaand me) to take a moment (or 30) to TURN OFF, sit still, be quiet, seek the source, and be refilled.
***PLEASE KEEP SCROLLING***
I have included this flyer for anyone who leads or serves especially in a musical aggregation within the church setting; however, it is not limited to just those groups of people. Whether you are a singer, musician, preacher, pastor, intercessor, prayer warrior, parent, business owner, group leader, teacher, friend, or HUMAN…you could use a refill. This setting provides the space for us to turn off, take off the masks, genuinely seek God, and allow His presence to replenish us. No shows, no pretenses, no flashy church hats or suits — just people who are too close to burning out with too much left to do seeking to be replenished. If you are free, come… No ticket price, no one asking you who you are and what you do… It’s just worship and a moment to hear from God. Don’t be the beautiful car with an empty gas tank. This is your refueling center. There is too much journey left for you to be depleted, and someone is depending on you and your arrival. Be my guest!