The gas light came on in my car. This is not uncommon; I’ve got a tendency to wait until I have zero gas before I fill up. What makes today unique is that it means that all three lights are now lit on my dashboard. I’m low on gas, my tires are low on air, and my Check Engine light has been on for about a week … maybe two or three…
It’s not that I dislike my car; I just get busy. My crazy life has me going here, there, and everywhere and my car has been amazing and reliable since I purchased it in March of 2011. This car is the first “new” car I’ve ever purchased and it’s paid off so it is completely mine.
I like my car and appreciate the blessing it is in my life. Honestly, I just always feel like I’ll have time “tomorrow” to buy gas.
You don’t need to tell me; I am aware that driving on low fuel is supposed to be bad for the engine and I don’t mean to tax it unnecessarily… I just get busy. I say that I will get gas after work and then I remember that I have somewhere to be or something to accomplish and figure I can make it a bit further.
It never seems to be that big a deal that I am low on gas since there are gas stations on every corner. Then I ran out … twice … in the same week. After buying a $10 gas can and a gallon of gas, I failed to stop and fill the car up and so I ran out of gas again a few days later.
Apparently not one to learn from my mistakes, a few months ago my light came on, I ignored it, and the next day Austin had a run on gas. That was exciting, driving 30+ miles past where my car said 0 miles remaining. (Pretty sure that was supernatural intervention.)
The other lights are similar. I know the tire light is probably just because of the cold and it just needs a little air. But one time I was working from that assumption and then learned that I had a bullet hole in my tire.
My Check Engine light came on a while back and I keep planning to take care of it “tomorrow” … I just never seem to have the 4-8 hours it takes every time I go to the Nissan dealership.
These lights are intended to allow my car to communicate with me about its needs. As much as I appreciate the ability to use my car to get around; I will be stranded quickly without gas. Driving on underinflated tires is bad for efficiency and “Check Engine” could be anything from a bad spark plug to a transmission issue.
These indicators mean nothing if I ignore them. And if I ignore them long enough then I won’t have the car to zip me all over Austin. But those lights are not the only indicators I let myself be too busy to appreciate.
Focused on goals and intentional about living to impact others, it’s easy to take my physical, emotional, and spiritual self for granted.
“One more 4-hour-night this week will be ok; I’ll sleep in on Saturday.”
“Just put on a smile and help them; I can process my tears later at home.”
“I know I need some personal worship time but a quick scripture verse and steering wheel prayer is all I have time for this morning. God understands.”
In the pursuit of purpose there will always be a time for self-sacrifice. Living for others will mean that my needs don’t come first. But if I fail to meet my own needs consistently I will fatigue and will be unable to finish.
After three very difficult weeks, this weekend I pulled away for some self-care. Friday was spent emotionally recharging with Ranae. The weekend was more amazing emotional and spiritual refueling, peeked this morning when I had the opportunity to worship with Dustin Smith and Here Be Lions and to receive some warfare prayer. Now I’m spiritually and emotionally recharged as I fly home and tomorrow I am off work so I can give my physical body a bit of rest and love.
And now I am better and stronger to be able to pour into others.
Are your warning lights on? Have you been ignoring yourself in pursuit of your purpose and service to others? Is it time to get away?
If your “physical” light is on, it’s time for a day off. Turn off the phone and alarms and just let your body recover. That doesn’t always mean sleep; maybe it’s a workout or a swim that helps you recharge.
Maybe your “emotional” light has come on. I am so blessed to have amazing women who I share life with. Grab a girlfriend and get coffee or go for a hike. (I have no idea how guys emotionally recharge… so good luck.) For those deeper needs, I have learned about the importance of a good counselor. Find someone who can help talk you thought the circumstances that have you running on empty.
If your “spiritual” light is on, and you don’t know what to do, I encourage you to check out We Be Lions. Their music is not just songs; it’s spirit filled and powerful for healing and rejuvenation. Every time I hear it, whether it’s a download or live in concert, my soul is refreshed and my spirit is healed.
Whatever “lights” have come on, it’s important to recognize that caring for yourself is not selfish. Without good coming in, you run out of good to give out but when your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met, you have a strong foundation to invest into others. It all can be done in a delicate balance.
Let’s all learn to read the lights and to care for ourselves so that we have what we need to live for people and on purpose.