We go through a lot of printer ink in our household. The other day, I printed a document that was supposed to contain a couple of beige colored blocks but because the pink cartridge ran out of ink, the area came out a puke green color. Without the pink to blend with the blue and yellow cartridges, the effect was unintended and unattractive.
I replaced the cartridge with a new, full pink cartridge. But then, the printer did not automatically kick start itself again. The machine began “printer maintenance” and said it should not be interrupted. I felt annoyed with how long it took and began to push buttons, unplug, and reboot it. And yet, it continued its maintenance. After I complained about the length of time it took, my husband Ben said, “well, we all need maintenance.” How true.
We’ve all heard the analogies akin to the empty ink well. We need to refill our tanks with love in order to be healthy, emotionally and mentally. We need regular self-care. We know all of that intellectually, but it’s harder to put into practice. We often feel selfish if we take too much time to care for ourselves. Any type of relaxation or restoration, even just a nap, feels self-indulgent.
One way we can fill ourselves is to focus on our relationship with God. Sometimes we may think of our relationship with God as a series of obligations or duties. God tells us to pray and participate in worship, so we may think it’s merely a requirement that we must satisfy. But what if we thought of the time we spend on our relationship with God as a type of self-care? God fills our minds, hearts, and souls when we concentrate on building our connection with God.
When the pink cartridge was empty, I needed to refill the pink cartridge, but the printer needed to perform maintenance for the pink, yellow, and blue to blend together in order to produce an accurate picture. Without one of the ink colors, the result was skewed. Without maintenance, they couldn’t work together.
If we do not fill and restore ourselves, we cannot continue to work well, physically, mentally, or emotionally. But we forget that if we don’t fill ourselves up, those that we love will actually suffer too. Without proper maintenance, the relationships and communities in which we engage will not be at their best. So much of our well-being is connected to having healthy relationships. We cannot help our families, our colleagues, our communities live into their promise if we refuse to care for ourselves. Filling ourselves with God’s love and grace helps us properly maintain those relationships. God shows us how to demonstrate his kindness, welcome, and inclusivity. God helps us merge our individual selves into beautiful, colorful composites that work together and reflect God’s glory.
We all need a reboot and maintenance every now and again. Both on the individual level and the larger community level. We must be filled individually and then fuse together to make a complete picture. All with God’s help.