My Empty Grace Tank

Ever feel like your grace tank is empty?

I spent last weekend with my kids at my parents house in Emily, MN.  Stephanie stayed home and had a quiet house alone where she could focus and knock out some projects that she needed to get done.  It was wonderful to see my parents and get out of town for a few days.

I was optimistic and upbeat last Friday morning about what a fantastic weekend it was going to be.  I had grand plans of being Super-Dad and having a weekend full of memory-making and fun.  And it was pretty fun.  We climbed a 'mountain' in the mines, played lots of Pick-Up Sticks and enjoyed being with my parents.

But I noticed something as the weekend went on.  My grace tank was rapidly decreasing and I found myself becoming more and more irritated and upset at the behavior of my kids.  By the time I got home on Sunday night I was completely empty and had zero patience and very little kindness.  I hated myself for it, but the fact was, I felt like I had nothing left to give, to anyone.

Stephanie noticed right away and did her best to engage the kids so I could just disappear and recharge.   

It took almost a full day for me to feel back to normal. 

Looking back now I see a few things that contributed to the situation.

1.  Unrealistic expectations
2.  Hyper-focus on trivial things
3.  Poor communication with my parents
4.  Poor communication with my kids
5.  Failure to ask for help or prayer
6.  Failure to debrief daily with Stephanie

All of these things are factors that led to the depletion of my grace tank.  And the problem is, all of these things are things I could have easily done better to avoid the situation.  I wish I would have been more intentional about reading God's Word to get me through.  I could have read and meditated on verses like these,

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Colossians 1:11-12 ESV)

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)

I learned a lot from this trip and I'm more prepared now for the next one.  I'm interested to hear what strategies any of you readers use to manage your emotions in draining circumstances.