Susan Daugherty

As the costumed group approached our yard, it was clear that we wouldn’t have enough treats. I scrambled in the front door and up to the kitchen where I dug out the few candy bars from our stash of personal favorites. I ran back and tossed them into the basket, just as a group of 8 or 10 children arrived at the door. Even with the sacrifice of sweets we had hoped to savor later, we barely had enough.

Then, with 30 minutes still remaining for trick-or-treat, my husband and I had to turn off the porch light and shut the front door. We had nothing left to give.

The reason we came up short was not that we had started with too few candy bars. It was that I gave away too many, too soon.

The evening had started slowly, with only a trickle of kids coming to ring our bell. It seemed that we had more candy than we needed, so I began to give two or three bars to each child. I saw abundance, so I gave away with abandon.

As the demand increased, our supply couldn’t keep up. Before long, our basket was empty. Instead of a welcoming light and a treat, our home presented only a darkened doorstep to children making the rounds of our neighborhood.

That empty basket represents much more in my life lately than just Halloween.

As a wife and mom, I am keeping up with the calendar and getting the “have-to’s” done. But I’m weary and worn, with the highlight of my day often being bedtime (mine). My serving and teaching have lost a bit of their spark. I even sense a lack of something to offer at social events and holiday gatherings. Coming up with a costume, making that fun themed dessert I found online, or entering into a silly game just feel like burdens, rather than delights.

As I look into the eyes and listen to the words of other women, I think many of us are emptying our baskets too soon. We each want to make a difference in our corner of the world. At first, we think we have more than enough to offer to everyone. Generously, eagerly, we give away our time, our ideas, our organizational skills, our knowledge… until suddenly there is little or nothing left.

I can’t do anything to remedy the Halloween that is past, but I can learn the lesson it had to teach me. I can keep in mind the way the trick-or-treat traffic stays steady or even increases through the night, and avoid handing out too much too soon.

In the same way, you and I may not be able to give ourselves more margin right now. But as new requests come our way, we can take that crucial pause…

…to consider our resources against not only current demands, but possible future ones as well

…to carefully assess our abilities and passions, to see if the new opportunity is a good fit

…to consult our Savior rather than make our own plans and then ask him to bless them

We don’t have to deplete ourselves in order to honor God and love others. After all, it was God who created the concept of Sabbath, to provide us with the rest He knew we needed.

You and I are resources worth protecting. The more carefully we choose how to give of our time, energy, and ideas, the more brightly and steadily our lights can shine for those who need what we have to give.

Guest Author Bio: Susan Daugherty believes that our lives can have big impact for Jesus, even if our daily job descriptions seem “small”. She writes about finding Scriptural truth and eternal value in everyday moments. (She has had devotions published by Mustard Seed Ministries, (in)courage, and as a COMPEL devotion challenge winner, Encouragement for Today.)

Susan taught music in the local schools for ten years before staying home full-time to care for her growing family. She has been married for three decades and is a mom of five. After twenty-one years of homeschooling she recently began coordinating communication for her church. Her life story includes adoption, homeschooling, missions and music.