How to respond positively when you’re feeling empty

Apr 2, 2020 | by Patrick Lyons, Captain

If you’re a relief worker—and if you’re in The Salvation Army, then you are—consider these questions:

What do we do when uncertainty really kicks in and we realize that we have very little control over our present lives?

What do we do when we are in the cycle of doing and we feel little more than a robot?

What do we do when great stress becomes normal and we quit striving for peace?

What happens when we are so caught up in the daily work we want to withdraw from others?

What do I do with those moments when I just don’t feel like praying?

I hope you haven’t come to any of these moments, but when we consider the research for relief workers, the truth is we will all be affected by the riggers of service. If you identify with these questions, you are likely starting to run on empty—but should not feel guilty. We simply must figure out how we will respond, and these are a few ideas to do so positively.

Make an emptiness inventory. Make a list of the areas that you feel most drained and consider them. How are they affecting you? What is it that is causing you to run dry? Take note of the things you can’t do anything about and leave them alone. Now consider the items you can do something about. Make notes about those and generate ideas. Implement some of these ideas tomorrow. Don’t set out to make tomorrow perfect, just set out to slow the drain. The goal of this task? To reinforce the notion that you are not powerless over your circumstances.

Write down your daily schedule and identify those times that drain you. Can you do anything to make that moment less difficult? Perhaps you can intentionally do something enjoyable before it or simply spend a few moments in prayer.

Prepare for draining moments by pausing before you start them. Breathe. Process your thoughts. Plan how to respond to negative stimuli before you have to.

Intentionally do things throughout the day to refill your tank. Did you know that many electric vehicle drivers do not fully charge their batteries when they stop? They charge what they need to make sure they have enough energy to get to the next charging station. Think of your day like a journey in an electric vehicle. You may not feel “full” all day, but are you doing enough to keep you going?

Process your thoughts every day with a spiritual debrief. If possible, find someone you can do a live debrief with.

Prioritize prayer in your day. Everything we do is in Jesus’ name. Make a commitment to stay in contact with him throughout the day and follow through.

Stay focused on what you have to get done. Keep steadfast in the pursuit of faithfulness. I especially find Isaiah 26:3-4 encouraging: You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

I hope these ideas help in some way. If you don’t need this list now, put it in your pocket for later. 

Remember God loves you and you are valuable to him. He loves you so much that he gave his son for you. Second, there are people who love you deeply. You enrich their lives and they thank God for you in their prayers. You are a help to those you work alongside; they depend on you and you on them. There are those who are in need and they value your sacrifice of time. For who you are, and where you are—you are irreplaceable. Regardless of how your day may drain you, God will use you in a mighty way to display his love and care. Out of all the people in the world, God has chosen you to be his instrument of love. He will be with you as you serve him.

A prayer for today: Father, I carry a lot of weakness. But I have experienced enough in my past to know you have immeasurable strength. I ask you to work in my day. Guide me and help me to face the difficult bits. Show me how I might look at my situation in a different light. Show me how to do things in a different way. Give me extra strength for my weakness, assurance when I doubt, and help me to find joy in the work you have me to do. Father, there isn’t a lot of time to rest or get away and experience peace. I ask you to be my rest and be my peace.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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