on being generous when you feel tapped out


As I drove home from work, I prayed.

Dear God, 

I cannot handle one more thing on my plate. I mean it. Do you hear me? Enough. Finito. That’s it. For real. Tapped out. I’m not kidding, not even a little. Puh-lease, no more.

: :

I’m sure you understand my words because you and me, well, I suspect we are similar. Your plate teeters with the fullness of life, threatening to slip from your hands and shatter on the floor.

You need to meet deadlines. Make the money stretch. Dust yourself off and try again. Feign interest in a twenty-minute story about weather. Come home with at least fifteen My Little Pony cupcakes for your youngest’s birthday, and vacuum. Don’t forget to vacuum. Oh, and grocery shop. You have guests visiting, and you certainly can’t feed them a half-eaten rotisseire chicken.

Then, in the middle of my spiral, I stop.

I realize something I know, but often refuse to practice.

I must be generous with myself.

Being generous with others is good, but being generous with myself is a requirement.

And with that thought, my evening looked better. I cranked up a little Justin Bieber (no, my ten-year-old wasn’t in the car, don’t judge) and drove home.

What about you? Do you find it easy to be generous with yourself?

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Amy L. Sullivan
SERVE Editor Word lover. Book devourer. Music addict. Amy is a Northern girl who found herself living in the South. She drinks sweet tea, turns her nose up at okra, and attempts to tell her daughters "yella" isn't a color.


  1. True. We are not nearly as effective at all the other roles we have when we are exhausted and depleted. I don’t like our culture’s understanding of “me time” but I do like the Bible’s understanding: even God rested on the 7th day.

    • Gaby, and if God rested who am I to think I need something different? Good point.

  2. Michelle DeRusha

    No, not easy at all. But this? You’ve got me thinking, Amy (don’t you always?!).

    • Michelle,
      Hope you are carving out some time for just you today.

  3. Kelli Woodford

    ah, this finds me tied in knots and spinning many plates.

    thanks for this, Amy. i can’t afford *not* being generous toward myself, otherwise i strangle my neighbor more quickly for the two dimes he might owe me.

    • Kelli,
      I know the plate spinning gig well. I hope today you are allowed to set a few down, if only for a moment. Thanks for reading!

  4. No, it’s not easy but I learned about this a couple of years ago after being in the Homeless Ministry for a couple of years. I was so worn out emotionally, that I had to take a short break and this is when God spoke to me…take care of yourself too. I crank up the music too now and get foot rubs from my hubbie:)

    Thanks for encouraging all of us!

    • Kris,
      I think being worn out emotionally is tough because we look fine, but inside it’s a different story. Plus, I get caught up in the whole question: Is carving out time for me selfish? More and more I’m leaning towards no.

  5. No…it’s not easy. especially with you reminding me I need to be!

    I’ll want to say it later, so I’ll multi task here and tell you: thank you for this, friend…thank you.

    • Nikki, Nikki,
      Thank you for reading!

  6. KrisCamealy

    I am stingy with myself. Rarely generous. Unfortunately, that is what comes most naturally to me. Thank you for this post, Amy. I will be thinking about this this afternoon as I spin myself dizzy trying to get it all done, maybe I will just stop, just breathe, just walk away fro a few minutes….

    • Kris,
      I’m stingy with myself too. I think as women and moms many of us are. I hope your spinning stops, if even for a moment and you are able to be generous with you!

  7. Sandra Heska King

    Oh yes. To be generous with others is easy. With myself, not so much. But I’m growing in it.

    • Sandra, I’m growing on it too, but it’s not natural for me. Not at all.

  8. Oh, I am so good at this — filling up life with so much of myself that I give Him no room to work! But I’m backing off, baby step by baby step…

    • Laura,
      I am QUEEN of filling every inch of my life. I’m learning He doesn’t talk with me when I’m so busy. You nailed it. I’ve got to make room.

  9. I’ve been blessed by your generosity Amy! Sometimes just being seen by someone is a great kindness. I’m growing in being kind to myself. I used to be so uptight but I’m really coming to love grace so much that I’m learning to enjoy giving myself a break! Great reminder!

    • Thank you, Beck, and you are so right sometimes just being seen or being heard by someone is a great kindness, one we all need. Thanks for reading!

  10. Love this post, Amy. Confession: I have prayed that prayer too!

    • Tammy, I think we all have, and you know, in that I find a little comfort.

  11. I think generally we are way harder on ourselves than anyone else would be. Sometimes easier to give grace than to receive it. Good thoughts Ms. Amy…

    • Mindy Sue,
      Agreed. I set expectations for myself I’d never dream of forcing upon others. It’s time to let the generosity kick in!

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