How many of us lie in our beds at the end of a busy day, reflecting and feeling the weariness weighting us down? I’m probably not the only one. But it’s when I wake up in the morning feeling that weariness that I know I’m in trouble.

I’ve reached that place again where I’ve run nonstop for so many days that I’ve lost track. My refrigerator is empty, my dishwasher is full. My hamper is full, my closet is empty. My checkbook is unbalanced, my bills are unpaid… Guys, I love to look like I have it all together, but the truth is that I really don’t.

Last weekend, I picked up our book, “Fight Back With Joy” by Margaret Feinberg. And I read, “Living openhanded toward others when your spiritual pocketbook is empty seems like an impossible task.”

That resonated with me so much! “Empty” describes how I’m feeling pretty darn well! Last night, my counselor sat across from me and knew the burden I was carrying before I even opened my mouth. Her first question was, “What’s on your schedule for this week that you can cancel?” I apologetically shook my head and said, “Nothing. I have… obligations.”

I could hear St. Francis of Assisi’s words in my head: “For it is in giving that we receive.”

I came home from counseling last night and dove headfirst into client work. It was nearly 10 before I realized that because I hadn’t made my laundry a priority, I was going to have nothing to wear to work today….

After I started the load of laundry, after I put aside the client work, after I had done my last project and put everything away, I turned off the TV and to the quiet hum of the dryer, I ran into these words from Jennifer Dukes Lee:

“Personal strength is not necessarily a virtue. Neither is got-it-togetherness. Clearly, Christ has a soft spot for weaklings. He repurposes human weaknesses, using them as doorways through which He escorts great power.” (from Love Idol, by Jennifer Dukes Lee)

It sank in slowly. It is a good thing that I give. It’s a good thing that I care about and take care of those in my life. That’s what God told me to do. God didn’t mean for me to make myself so busy with doing good things for good reasons that I drive myself into a nervous breakdown or an early grave.

For the record, I know that’s not what Margaret was suggesting in her passage…. I just have to speak to it from where it’s working in me….

Philippians 4:13 says that we can do all things when Christ helps us. But that’s conditional. He is always there to help, but He’s not going to make me accept His help. And I have real trouble with this. I’m not good at asking for help, accepting help, or even knowing when to ask for help. And here I have to stop and laugh because I just had a visual of myself as the Grinch’s poor, overloaded dog trying to pull a sled that was way too large for him…


As a kid, I was taught that when I get to the street, to look both ways before attempting to cross. Maybe it’s time for me to stop, look both ways, take a breath, and ask for help in crossing the street. And along the way, I’m going to pass out hugs, smiles, prayers, and red balloons.

How do you handle the balancing act of doing for others and doing for yourself?

This post is part of a weekly book discussion on Margaret Feinberg’s book, “Fight Back With Joy.” You don’t have to read the book to throw in your two cents! If you’ve written a response to this post, please run over to Jason’s and link it up at the widget you’ll find there.

About Sarah Salter


  1. Still having Jason Gray’s song in my mind – especially the lyrics at the bridge – makes a bit of a difference for me today. Letting go of things – whether they are things I do for myself, or have as responsibilities – in some ways comes easier in that I get forgetful with chemo brain, but then the sense of responsibility and work ethic can leap for my jugular and turn me into a mess. Setting priorities is hard – for me, for you, for many people – but it has to be done. Self-care is a screaming pain sometimes for me, yet it is a requirement that trumps all others in my life right now, would you not agree? You spent time here – I won’t ask for a grade on how well I did, and more happened after you left that affects that set of tasks.

    I will pray for you, and for myself, that we both put ourselves first so we can then put others first – without us, someone else may do the job, but not like we can, yes?

    Hugs, Rick

  2. Barbara Capps says:

    Sometimes Sista Sarah, you write things about a person I have never met…:).. I have always only received the best from you… And I have seen you pass out the hugs, smiles and prayers.. Now I haven’t seen any red balloons, but I am sure you would.. And I agree with Rick, nobody could do that job quite like you… Love you lady…OH and by the way I give you an A+ and would have words with anybody that said different!!!!!

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    Rick, one of the things I have trouble getting past is that when I get overwhelmed or over-tired, my logic goes out the window and I began to be led by emotions. For example, with the reports I’ve been doing at work the past couple of days, I’ve been getting far too angry at mistakes others have made in their portions of the reports. It’s not productive to get carried away in the anger. It doesn’t help to fix the report. It doesn’t make me feel better. It just saps my energy… And I did end up cancelling out of one of the obligations I’d obligated myself to this week. But I still have to carefully prioritize my time for every other second of my week…

    As for you… I won’t grade you. Your circumstances are anything but ordinary. I do continue to pray for you — that you’ll have the strength and wisdom each day requires, and that you’ll find the joy that feeds your strength, and that you’ll know how important you are and how loved you are. And that you’ll know that you aren’t fighting your battle alone. No matter how busy I get, I’m fighting — in spirit — tooth and nail beside you. And so is Joy…

    I think I need to go listen to that Jason Gray song again now. 🙂

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Barbara, red balloons are a reference from the book… that’s why you aren’t seeing them. 🙂

    I realized a long time ago that God put you in my life so that I could give you the best that God could help me to give you, because Lord knows, there are plenty in your life that drag butt and don’t give you what you need… You’re my sister, and I’ll give you my best as often as it’s in my strength to do so, Capps. 🙂

  5. I’m with you, Sarah. I can so easily make life about everything it’s not supposed to be in the name of getting it all done. It’s at those points good things begin to replace God things and I’m ineffective. Slowly I start to believe being generous and openhanded is just too difficult and I can close off. Like you said, that doesn’t mean we don’t take care of ourselves. It’s just that God made us to be givers and reaping follows sowing. Good thoughts, my friend! Thank you.

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