Go Ahead and Pour From An Empty Cup
It’s 2:30 AM, the baby wakes you up with a scream at decibels only a mother can hear, in your daze of stumbling through the checklist of things to make her settle down, you hear the faintest little voice say, “mommy, mommy I need water.” You fill the sippy cup and settle the baby, after your thoughts finish their 30 minute racing cycle, you drift off to sleep. Not a restful one, because you know this routine so well that the four more wake-ups will come, as sure as baby waking up before the sun ever reflects a single ray on the day.
Sound familiar? Any normal day of mom’s duties, the unrelenting demands from the littlest of humans compounded by messes and stresses, is enough to exhaust you. Then there are the days that completely empty you. The day the flu infects the whole family, like an unpleasant and unwelcome house guest. The weeks, that feel more like years, when your baby is painfully teething. The month your newborn’s home was the NICU, instead of home you prayerfully prepared for nine months. Or the moment your husband walks in and says he’s been laid off, and you swallow hard as you realize you don’t know what’s next.
We have all experienced it in various degrees, the empty cup syndrome. It’s more than just tired it’s weary and worn. I’m a big advocate for finding small ways to practice self care, however in these empty cup moments squeezing in any time for self care might feel impossible. What I do know about being empty, is that is where being filled can only come from one thing. One person. One Savior. A long shower, a coffee date with a friend, finding time to read a book, escaping for a pedicure, or having that elusive solo Target trip are all wonderful things that add drops of sweetener, and a dabble of cream to your cup, but those alone will never fill us.
As we reach the bottom of our cup, this is where our intercessor, the Holy Spirit is reaching out on our behalf. He is being our champion. Our number one fan.
He is calling on our Savior to fill us up. I’m a big coffee fan, as I know a lot of moms are, and one of my most favorite moments are the first few sips of a fresh, hot cup of coffee. Sometimes it takes three reheats in the microwave, and an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to make it happen. But it’s like God touching my weary momma soul. However, even more satisfying, is being filled by Him. How can we make that happen in our moments of emptiness?
Fill your cup with tears. If that’s all you can do, God will take those tears and turn them to a cup full of joy. “They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.” Psalms 126:6 NLT
Pray for a refill. God is eagerly waiting to bend down, and listen. He wants to hear our sincere hearts and the parts of us that feel the weakest. Then, He gives us the strength to fight another day. “As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.” Psalms 138:3 NLT
Expectantly hope for a refill. Your cup won’t always be empty. As we continue to take in God’s word, we are reminded of His hope. “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:5 NLT
Continue thanking God for past refills. I know it’s hard to practice thankfulness when your soul feels so empty. It might even feel like sacrificing a part of you, but try and think back to every circumstance, big or small, in which He was there to comfort you. One of our teaching pastors recently said, “the absence of relief, does not mean the absence of intervention.” God might be brewing the best cup you’ve ever tasted, but often those take the longest to create. “I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” Psalms 116:17 NLT
Share your cup. When our cup is finally overflowing with the joy that our tears helped create, generously share it with others as God graciously did with us. We never know how empty another’s cup truly is. It’s the friend who has a child with disabilities who seems stronger than anyone you know. It’s the mom of six you idolize as a superwoman. It’s the mom with one child who is drowning in life’s hardships she never saw coming. It's the foster mom who seems like she’s got more love than anyone you’ve ever met. Or maybe it’s the mom who excels at her job, but secretly longs to be home with her kids. The counterintuitive saying that the more you give the more you receive is absolutely true. “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:38 NLT
No matter what, we will all be empty. We will have no choice but to keep pouring from our empty cups, because the days will keep coming. I pray that this is where your parched soul is quenched with the life giving comfort of God.