Monday, March 10, 2008

Empty

Several years ago, I was asked to make a list of things that "empty my well" and a list of things that "fill my well"--in other words, the events/situations/tasks that drain you and the ones that make you feel energized and excited.

One of the top items on my "empty" list was "situations in which I don't know what I'm doing." I was thinking specifically of the part of my job description that summer which I most hated: helping to fix lunch for about twenty college students. At that point I had little experience in the kitchen, and being shoved in there with the responsibility of feeding that many people (the students, plus five interns and a smattering of other people who might be around) was a prospect I dreaded every time my turn came up. I felt completely inept, inadequate, stupid.

It wasn't until a few years later that God showed me how that item on my list wasn't simply a matter of personality or preference. It was a clear display of my top besetting sin: pride (mixed in with a liberal dose of fear of man). The truth was, I didn't like kitchen duty--or other "situations in which I don't know what I'm doing"--because I was afraid others would think I was dumb. I felt uncomfortably self-conscious, and I hated the idea of other people seeing me as bumbling, unsure, ignorant. I've been that way my whole life; just ask my parents. I've always resisted doing things I'm not good at (make that instantly good at), because I want to excel--I want to be the best. And so I avoid any situation in which I might fail.

It's slowly dawning on me that that experience and subsequent revelation was preparing me for the crucible of motherhood. Raising Elijah is the ultimate "situation in which I don't know what I'm doing." And so once again, my prideful, sinful heart resists. I don't like this, I think to myself. Because I can't do this. I'm not good at it.

I have no idea what I'm doing in this new life as someone's mother. I feel hopeless when I can't get him to sleep, can't make the crying stop, can't control my own ugly emotions. I'm not the mother I hoped to be (even, arrogantly, thought I'd be). I wasn't cut out for this, my "empty" self laments; he would be better off if I were not his mother.

All this, I think, is emptying me after all--just as God intended. Not in a self-aware, "this is the way my brain works," personality-preferences kind of way, but in a "emptied of pride so He can fill me with His grace" kind of way.

4 comments:

ordinarymother said...

Amy, this is so similar to my experience. I still don't know what I'm doing :) . it is very humbling, indeed. One thing I'm learning, like you, is that God doesn't just reveal something about ourselves to us through various means (like motherhood), He wants to reveal something of Him through those various means. I will fix my gaze so much on me, my inadequacy, my performance that I forget to see God as well. You are so much further along in your understanding of these things than I was in your season. God has so much to reveal to your humble heart through motherhood. It truly is glorious. And hard.

Zoanna said...

I'm sure you're seeing so much more of the fullness we have all received, kindness upon kindness!

You are the perfect mother for Elijach and he's the perfect baby for you.
PS I don't know what I'm doing, either. Never parented young adults until I had them!

Bethany said...

Oh I am praying for you. No one knows what they are doing when it comes to kiddos and just when you think you do they change and you know nothin. Sooooo don't beat yourself up. We are all in the same position and if we aren't then we will blink and we are gonna be.

If it makes you feel better Adelee has only slept one of the last three nights and today she had a total of a one hour nap. She has refused to eat food and will only nurse. I think she is teething. My boobs hurt and I am pooped. But I know it is only a season and soon I will look back and long for a little quiet nursing time and that little baby she was crazy teething nights and all.

Hang in there. Its waves. There are coasting season and there are seasons you really have to work. I will pray a coasting session comes your way soon

Hugs

Faith said...

been there, done that! be patient with yourself:)