I am overwhelmed when I think of the borrowed strength I have received throughout my life. More times than I can mention, that strength has come to me in the form of another person. And in ways that are so simple yet profoundly felt.
When I first found out my body wouldn’t carry a baby. I didn’t know of anyone who was going through what I was. Yet my dear sweet and very fertile friend offered me such strength in just crying with me. Even though she was miles and miles away, I knew her heart hurt for me and she cared and that gave me strength.
When my husband and I started our adoption process my aunt stood by us every step of the way. She was always there to offer MUCH wisdom and more peace through her words than she knows. That gave me strength.
The day we found out my mom had cancer, I came home to my empty home to hear a message on my answering machine from my best friend telling me she knew, she was sorry and she would be praying for us. I sat down and cried. In that moment I was strengthened.
And my husband. He’s my greatest strength. But that’s a whole other entry.
I could go on and on about the strength I’ve received from family, friends and even strangers. Their genuine service to me weren’t big things. None of these things required money, much time or anything extravagant. And yet I didn’t need anything more to have my heart strengthened.
My only thought as I think about all of these people who I borrowed strength from is,
if that strength is “borrowed” how am I "returning" it?
I’ve often thought of what I have to give in terms of buckets. Stay with me here. We all have our buckets. Figurative buckets. I imagine mine being full to the brim with crystal clear, clean and cold water. I give willingly and without reservation when my bucket is full. It is when it is empty and I feel depleted that I have a hard time looking for a reserve. In such moments I have found it necessary to refill my own bucket.
There is such a trend right now in society that says “take care of yourself and watch out for number one.” “You can’t help others without helping yourself first.” So I try to follow this advice. I go get an amazing massage, and pamper myself with a beautiful pedicure and manicure. This makes me feel good. I feel good the whole drive home and possibly the whole entire evening. But the next morning, I wake up and my heart still feels empty and my spirit is not replenished. While I personally love these things, they are only temporary. The result lies in this:
I simply cannot refill my bucket on my own.
So the vital question remains:
How do we refill our empty buckets?
The Lord was able to feed thousands with a few loaves of bread. And today, He still carries out miracles much like this one on our behalf.
This is where a miracle takes place.
While we step away from our emptiness and turn to care for another, we come back to find our buckets have a little water in them!
In moments of need my bucket is refilled as I genuinely give what I have. It may not be much, but it is what I have. I’ll say it again. Our buckets are refilled as we give what we have. How is this realistically possible? This statement seems so counterintuitive. Yet it is the way. There is truly something miraculous that happens when we give of ourselves.
Genuine Giving. Sometimes this may be as little as a smile. And in other times it may require much time, resources and strength. But my bucket is only filled with muddy water when I do for others with the mindset of meeting my own needs.
I remember hearing once that a gift is not a gift when there is a big fat rope of expectation attached to it. It is easy to give when my bucket is full to the brim. It is the hardest and yet most necessary when it is low and without expectation.
Give what you have. Another important aspect to refilling our buckets is to be aware what we have to give. You can’t give what you don’t have. I think sometimes our want to give far outweighs our reality. Or we think our gesture needs to be big and grand. This mindset represents the climate of our culture today. Want it now? Put it on credit. Buy now, spend later. Go big or go home.
In the scriptures The Lord has clearly said it is not necessary to "run faster than we have strength." He just asks that we give what we can.
I began writing this blog entry this morning. And now it is 9 pm. During that time, my words were tested. The last couple days I have been feeling a little blue. I don’t know why. This just happens every once in a while. I blame my hormones. I’ve been feeling that I need to replenish my bucket - it is getting low. This day I have been presented with several opportunities to give of myself. It hasn’t been much. It hasn’t been much at all. However, it did require that I forget about my messy home, getting ready and dragging my little ones with me. And when I came home, I found my bucket had been filled. I don’t know how it happened. You would think after running around crazy all day, I would be tired. But my spirit feels energized. There really is something to this.
We no doubt can discuss this topic of borrowed strength in relation to Christ. But there is just no way we can ever repay Christ for what he did for us in the garden of Gethsemane. He just asks that we mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.
The Lord doesn’t wait until my house is clean, laundry done and me to be perfectly happy and alert to help somebody else. He just asks that I do it regardless.
I know this is something I need to do a much better job of. While I may never repay my Savior for the gift He gave me, I can show my love and appreciation by giving of myself in ways I have been so blessed to receive from others. With genuine care. We are all precious to Him. His love for us is immeasurable and without conditions. I have always received help when I need it most. And the miracle of it all is that when we give what we do have, our buckets will be replenished. I don’t know how.
It just is.