running out of gas

Jun 22, 2010

I can’t tell you the number of times I have run out of gas. Many. Not like every week or even every month and probably not even every year, but enough times that it is embarrassing. Enough times that I should have learned to pay attention to my gas gauge. I haven’t run out of gas lately (at least the vehicular kind), but only because of divine intervention and the prayers of my children when we are almost out and we somehow make it to the gas station.

I have a friend who runs out of gas even more often than I do. She will call and let me know she is out of gas and then I will go find her and fill her tank with my five gallon gas can.

Once I ran out of gas in my driveway and our neighbor came and rescued me. I had no idea that gas was the problem, I just knew my vehicle wouldn’t start. I had only gone 451 miles and I normally could go 600 miles, so I knew that an empty gas tank wasn’t the problem. Of course, I was wrong and after giving me enough fuel to get to the gas station, I was on my way.

My husband has rescued me numerous times. Usually in the middle of his day when it is not convenient and it is 100% my fault. No judgment, no harsh words are given. Just a hug and a kiss and a tank of gas.

I think we all run out of gas sometimes. Life gets away from us and we are running on fumes and then we are stopped all together. It might be we run out of energy, health, money, or faith. We might run out of smiles, hope, hugs, or desire. Sometimes we aren’t paying attention to our fuel gauge. Sometimes life took more than we thought it would. Sometimes we are in an emergency and don’t have time to stop to refuel so we keep going in hopes of making it. Sometimes the place we thought we could get gas isn’t open and we have to look elsewhere. Sometimes we are stuck in a line of traffic for far too long and our gas runs out before it should have.

Its not always our fault.

Just sometimes.

But in the moment of despair, it doesn’t really matter whose fault it is (although it is usually worse on us emotionally if it IS our fault). What matters is being rescued and the manner in which the rescue is carried out.

With judgment. With speed. With slowness. With attention to all of the needs or just the most glaring. With a smile. With a lecture.

Or with love and mercy.

As I think about the people who have helped me when I have run out gas, of all varieties, not just the unleaded kind, I am determined to help others who are running low as well. We all need a rescuer sometimes and I have had more than my share of knights (and maidens) in shining armor come to my aid. I hope I can share the love and help others on their journeys as well. Their fault or not, they need some sustenance to get them on their way again. A smile, a hug, a heartfelt note, a meal, some ice cream, a warm bed, some reading time, a massage, some help given without judgment…all of these can change someone’s direction and get them back on their feet again.

We have been cleaning out the garage lately. I found a box of old cards and letters. Cards from my mom, my dad, my grandparents, school teachers, friends, church leaders, community members, and complete strangers. Cards that had been sent at a perfect time to refuel me and get me going again. Letters that spoke to my soul and helped me believe in myself. Words of counsel and words of faith. Encouragement to keep on keeping on. I spent a long time reading each note, remembering back to the young girl that needed so badly to be given some help and hope. Some direction. Some love. Some wisdom.

Rereading these words filled me with love, even now, years later. The process of reading them helped me reframe my childhood. It was obvious I was surrounded by love, not abandoned as I have sometimes felt, because right there in my hands was a box full of proof! It is true that I saved the “good stuff” and not the bad, but still, tangible proof that an army of people had loved me enough to write me a note, mail me a card, and send me some hope.

Yesterday I was the cause of my daughter’s running out of gas. I was being too hard on her (again!) and was critical in ways that hurt her. I needed to fix the problem. I needed to fill her soul with love. I needed her to know I believe she is brilliant, talented, lovable, and good. We spent a few hours together just having fun and walking around. It was exactly what both of us needed. Now she is off to Girls’ Camp and I hope she takes with her the knowledge that I love her, and more importantly, that God loves her.

In the end, He is the ultimate refueler. He knows exactly what we need to keep going and will send rescuers to us in our time of need. I want to be in tune with Him so He can use me to get His message and aid to others.

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  1. jessica

    I think I’ve been running on fumes for months. Or maybe I only think I’m still running, and really I’m upside down in a ditch. Ha.

    I so appreciated your invitation to go hiking today – I think you are an amazing, expert re-fueler. I wish we could have gone.

  2. Anne

    Yes, Tracy. Come open a station near me.

  3. tracy

    I don’t think I am that great of a refueler at all, but I really wanted to go hiking with you. It would have been so fun to see our children running up and down the hills and through the water together…and of course, the snakes are always an adventure!

  4. tracy

    The point is, we can all be refueling stations for others. I know you are one of my biggest fill-er-up attendants. Thanks for all you do to help me get through another day.