As I watched them play on the driveway, I longed for an ounce of their energy. Five kids were playing chase. Two were playing basketball. It was a beautiful day, and I could hear their laughter from the other side of the window. I should’ve felt joy at the scene before me, but what I really felt was exhausted, depleted. I was running on fumes and clinging to my third cup of coffee.
For years, I operated like this, drinking lots of caffeine but pouring from an empty cup. Somewhere I bought into the narrative that it was my job as a Christian woman, mom, and wife to pour out and then pour out some more. Serve others. Put them first. Sacrifice and sacrifice some more. These are the ways of Jesus.
It took me many years and many tear-soaked conversations with God to finally realize that His command is to love others, but to love them as myself. While I was following the first half of that sentence, I was skipping over the second half. I was forgetting that I had to care for myself well in order to care for others well.
Soul care and nourishment are not good ideas or luxuries. I have learned they are necessary if I am going to live out the ways of Jesus. Love and grace have to come in before they can spill it out.
What’s interesting, though, is that when we think about nourishing our souls, we usually think the answer is consumption. An empty cup needs to be filled, so we consume. We do Bible studies, read devotions, and listen to podcasts and sermons. All of that is good and necessary, of course, but what those years of depletion and exhaustion taught me was that the real reason I was tired was that I was trying to carry too much. My hands were full and holding too tightly to a world I was trying to control. Clenched hands are not a posture of receiving anything, including God’s grace.
So, for me, soul care starts with surrender. This means literally laying my worries at the foot of the cross. Sometimes, I name them one by one. Sometimes I lay them down in a jumbled mess that can’t be put into words. Either way, the process is never as easy as it should be.
I think most of us are usually pretty comfortable laying some of the big things at the cross — things like cancer and selling our homes and job changes. However, we are less likely to “bother” God with the “little things” that we deal with or worry about on a daily basis — things like finding good friends and potty training and keeping up with overwhelming schedules. The problem is that slowly but surely these “little things” add up, weigh us down, and force us to cope in ways that are typically unhealthy for our bodies and our souls.
The Word clearly tells us that God cares about all of the things that weigh us down. He designed us to need Him, and better yet, He wants to help us. The Bible tells us to cast our anxiety on Him, and that His power is made perfect in our weakness. It tells us that He is our rock and stronghold, and that His grace is sufficient.
Matthew 11:28 says it best: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
This invitation to come to the Lord with our limitations is the first step in giving our souls the rest and nourishment they actually need. It turns out surrender is a means of sustenance in the upside-down Kingdom of God. When we finally wave our white flags and say to God, “I can’t do this anymore,” something beautiful happens: He gently whispers, “I know. I never meant for you to do this alone.”
What “little things” are weighing you down today? What can you surrender before the cross? What can you let God carry so that your hands are open to receive all that he has for you?
Odds are our empty cups don’t need more coffee after all. What they really need is a healthy dose of God’s love and grace. We just have to be willing to set down the cup to receive it.Leave a Comment