Gratitude Day 786

Tues., Oct. 20, 2020

Matthew 14:23 – After the crowds dispersed, Jesus went up into the hills to pray. And as night fell, he was there praying alone with God.

It is AMAZING how one phone call can completely change a day.

Or an e-mail.

Or unexpected news.

These things can be WONDERFUL. Great. Exciting. Bring life into your heart and joy into your step.

Or … they can deflate your life faster than a popped balloon.


Some days, we can handle expected things without missing a step.

Other days?

We look at caller ID and groan. Loudly.

When things seem to going well, I can problem solve quickly. Think of several possible solutions to a situation in mere minutes. On days my emotional bandwidth is wide, I feel energized, productive and confident about what I am doing and the quality of my efforts.

Then, there are the days, when one tiny little thing puts us over the edge.

I begin the day with a list of things I would like to accomplish. Mind you, too often this is probably not a realistic to-do list but an overly optimistic list that probably would require two days to accomplish. when that text or email or something else gets dropped into the day and now I am dealing with the urgent rather than what I had intended to do, I find myself mentally and emotionally tired. I just want to eat my emotions (not a good idea!) and plop down with a book. These days, my emotional bandwidth is exhausted.

Done. Gone.

It also seems like the more I try to multi-task, the narrower my emotional bandwidth becomes. One little mistake or misstep, and everything feels and seems just a bit more complicated. When my bandwidth gets overtaxed or too narrow, I usually take it out on someone else. I am short. Have diarrhea of the mouth. Say something that I wish I could reel back in.

What’s emotional bandwidth? It’s our energy, attention and ability process through things at any given time. Our ability to deal with something at any particular time. It’s the space we have within our heads and our bodies to be patient, kind, helpful and positive.

Or not.

Just as our bank accounts can get overdrawn, our emotional bandwidth accounts can also become negative. When we lack the ability to be rational about something, we might be emotionally overdrawn. If we find ourselves defending poor behavior and attitudes and interactions, there is a good chance our emotions are spent. When we find ourselves being sharp with our words, lacking compassion and more determined to be right than listen to someone else, well, our emotional bandwidth is way overdrawn.

There’s probably a technical definition of bandwidth, which I’m not sure I am explaining very well. Let me try this way.  

Enough bandwidth – you wake up and get out of bed at the time you planned the night before. The first sip of coffee or tea or beverage of choice fills your belly with warmth that carries you into the day. There comes a time in the day when you think yourself, “Wow! I’m getting a lot done!” And you are! Even if there’s a little hiccup along the way, you keep perspective, problem solve and move on.

Not enough bandwidth – Every seems to be going wrong. Literally, everything. All you can think to yourself throughout the day is, “Can’t I just get ONE break today?” And it never seems to show up. “Will this day EVER END?”

We need emotional bandwidth when we are dealing with our family members, our work and/or volunteer situations, within our friend groups as well as acquaintances. Most often, when we feel depleted in one area, our emotional stability (or lack there of) spills over into the other areas of our lives.

Where We Are Today

I feel like a lot of us are operating without adequate bandwidth these days.

Maybe it’s long-term COVID-19.

Maybe it’s the upcoming election and how divided our country is right now.

Does less sunlight and colder temperatures and knowing winter is coming affect you? (This is completely Hubby Rick these days.)

Are you concerned about inflation and increasing prices and uncertainty?

Maybe you’re concerned about a loved one who is ill, sick and/or vulnerable health wise.

Do you long to do something fun, just because?

How does a REALLY good old long HUG sound?

Maybe ….

All these things, and a whole bunch more, can lead to inadequate bandwidth. Days when nothing seems to be going right and we just want to crawl under the covers and come out when it’s spring. We yearn for when things will have called down. Convince ourselves next week will be better. Long for an open spot in our daily lives.

Friends – It’s pretty clear to me these days that one of most important things we need to do is protect our bandwidth. Keep ourselves in a spot where we operate out of a capacity where we handle and manage things. When our bandwidth is depleted or exhauster or inexistent, a whole lot of negative can happen. To our loved ones. Strangers. Neighbors. Ourselves.

Can I encourage you to monitor just one thing this week? Watch your bandwidth.

  • When do you have enough energy and attention and ability to handle things?
  • When do you not?
  • What are the common denominators of when you have enough bandwidth? Is it a particular time of the day, time of the week, encounter with a particular person that affects you more than other things?
  • What do YOU need to do to increase your bandwidth before the next day? DO IT. (Well, as long as it’s safe.)
  • What do YOU need to STOP doing to increase your bandwidth? Stop it TODAY.

Honestly, I know that I have spent way too many days without adequate bandwidth. I knew it. Felt it. Saw it in me. But I didn’t do enough about it. I convinced myself that I needed to keep going and going and going.

These days, I’m at least recognizing that my bandwidth is down. My to-do lists are a bit shorter. I’m trying to let myself breathe and build up bandwidth before the next day.

It’s not a coincidence that all four gospels tell us that there were times Jesus went off by himself to pray. Why did he do this?

He needed more bandwidth. It was just that simple. If Jesus needed more bandwidth, what makes me think that I don’t need more bandwidth?


Once again, it’s Jesus that helps me see something about myself that should be so obvious, and I ignore. Thank you, Jesus. Once again.

Bandwidth. How is yours?

For discovering a need for bandwidth, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – Too often these days, we’re operating out of limited and depleted bandwidth rather than adequate bandwidth. Help me see when I’m lacking bandwidth. Place it upon my heart ways that I can replenish my bandwidth. Amen.

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