When You Still Feel Empty
Monday was hard. Not because anything particularly rough or unusual happened, but because the weekend was over and we were now back to the daily grind. Another day where he, the bread-winning husband, goes to work and I, the child-rearing wife, stay home.
As my husband grabbed his coat and keys, gave me a quick kiss on the lips, and shut the front door behind him, I felt sad and alone. Even a little bitter. Why does he always get to be the one who goes while I'm always the one who stays?
I knew I needed to talk this out with the Lord. Why did I feel this anger and longing? What was it that I felt like I needed? Purpose? Community? More time away from the baby? A nap? The sad thing is that I often do get to enjoy these things and yet something as simple as watching my husband leave for work was still enough to unravel me.
The Lord was so gracious to remind me that day that there is a reason for why I often feel this deep ache in my soul. And that reason isn't because I need a nap or more friends or a shorter to-do list or a temporary escape from my life, but rather that I need Jesus himself.
There have been many times when God has led me to implement more self care into my life to help make this season of motherhood easier and more enjoyable -- practical things like changing up how we divide and conquer housework, joining a local Moms Club, having our groceries delivered, going to church without the baby so my husband and I can enjoy it uninterrupted, and so on.
But no amount of self care can hold a candle to the kind of soul care that the Lord can give, the very thing that could fill me in all the ways I've been feeling depleted.
I began discovering the difference between self care and soul care shortly after my daughter was born because it felt like I could never get ahead of my needs. No matter what changes I made, I still had days where I felt like I was drowning. I still wrestled with sadness and loneliness and even apathy. It was only when I stopped trying to make my life better and instead just cried out to the Lord for him to be all that I need that I realized that there are some things that simply cannot come from any other source than from Jesus himself.
This is why I launched Soul Care for the New Mom in the first place -- because I wanted to remind new moms that what they need most is not a break from their little ones or for their husbands to pitch in more or for their calendars to be filled or to even have the company of other people. All of these things are valuable and they do ease and enrich our lives, especially in what can easily be a chaotic, lonely season. But they are no substitute for God.
No, what new moms need most is God himself. We need the Lord to be our strength. Our encourager. Our comforter. Our focus of worship. The reason for our being.
There are deep needs in each of our souls that cannot be filled on just a practical level. There comes a point when the only way back to fulfillment is to let Jesus fill us right where we're at, to simply show us how to be content and at peace without having all of those things we think might complete us.
If this resonates with you because you know this ache in your soul, then maybe what you need most right now is not more practical self care tips, but rather to learn how to sit at Jesus' feet and let him care for your soul. Instead of spending more time, effort, and money to attain what the world says will complete us, it could be that the thing you need most is to just hear the Lord speak words of love and truth over you. Words like "I am pleased with you, my daughter." And "You are not forgotten. I am here." And "I have a plan to meet all of your needs and more. You can trust me."
There is a passage in John 4 that tells us of an encounter between Jesus and an outcasted woman at a well. He points out to her that she has had many lovers in the past. Though my story doesn't quite look like that woman's, I can't count the number of times that I've realized I'm not all that different from her. How many times have I craved and strived for the same thing again and again, hoping it would satisfy me, only to find that I'm still just as empty as I was before?
If you, like me, feel that you are sometimes that woman, too, then I urge you to let these words dig a deep well in your soul today:
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14).
Wouldn't you like to know what it feels like to no longer be thirsty? To no longer feel empty? To no longer wrestle with the loneliness and longing that often accompanies this season of motherhood?
It makes all of the sense in the world that because we are continually being spent for the sake of our little ones, we will need constant refilling. This is why pursuing the Lord and delighting yourself in him is an everyday, moment-to-moment invitation. Like Jesus' invitation to the woman at the well.
"Find your satisfaction in me. Let my love and grace and truth grow in you more and more each day. Until you find that those lovers you had in the past are nothing compared to the abundant life you find in me."
Mama, I don't know what you are facing right now, whether this season has been rough, crazy, blissful, or a mix of all three. But what I do know is this: if you have a deep ache or hunger in your soul, there is nothing and no one who can fill you like Jesus can. If you let him, he will care for your soul.
He will make sure that you are refilled when motherhood wrings you dry.
I'm still learning how to lean back on Jesus and find my satisfaction in him. I find so much comfort in knowing that this is a process that doesn't have to look perfect and will actually often times look messy. And praise God that on this journey, we don't have to walk alone! It is my prayer that Soul Care for the New Mom eventually becomes a community of new moms committed to seeking the Lord together. It truly is an amazing blessing to walk alongside other women in this season of motherhood and I'd love to walk alongside you, too.