What is motherhood (and especially the postpartum period) if not a daily, hourly, minute-ly ritual of being a love offering? If you’ve been in the difficult but fortunate situation of caring for a new human, you might remember the sacrifice well. If you’ve been there but don’t remember–because the passage of time has wiped your memory in favor of the warm fuzzy newborn cuddles–allow me to remind you: it’s hard. It’s tiring. It’s impossible.
When I experienced this for the first time, I spent hours staring at my ceiling, thinking:
“How am I supposed to endure tortuous sleeplessness while also needing to be cognizant and capable in the wee hours of the night? How have women done this for CENTURIES? How am I going to face tomorrow? How can I fit in a shower between naps? ”
It’s all so…impossible.
And yet, isn’t that what offerings require? The impossible reality of not knowing what comes next? That’s why sacrifice is scandalous because it most often means the next step is unknown.
I’m reminded of the widow’s offering we’re told about in the book of Mark. Of this woman who, in the midst of the wealthy givers, gave “all she had to live on,” which only amounted to “a few cents.” How would she live, knowing this offering was all she had? It would have been impossible. Her next step was unknown.
But take heart: there is hope, for the sacrifice on which our hope is built–that of Jesus on the cross–was not unknown. The resurrection that came after was an example of our own sacrifices, enfleshed. What God accomplished through the death and resurrection of the Son gives us hope that our own sacrifices will be made new and what’s impossible will be made possible.
Yes, this is true of mothers, but it’s true of all people regardless of whether or not they’ve found themselves in motherhood. Sometimes, we find ourselves offering all we have to those we love: our energy, our strength, our love, yes, even our FOOD, trusting that God will miraculously provide more for us. And God will. For as Psalm 23 assures, we “lack nothing.”
Love offerings are indeed impossible because they mean we will lack a great deal. But in the impossibility of it all–even when hormones and depression/anxiety can often make us forget the shape of the truth–we can remind ourselves that the Lord is our shepherd, and by grace alone, our cup overflows.
The following is a prayer based on my own experience in caring for a newborn and is featured in the upcoming Every Moment Holy Volume III book, releasing November 3, 2023. More information can be found at everymomentholy.com/volume-iii
A Liturgy for Long Hours Caring for an Infant
by Leslie Eiler Thompson
I am so tired, Lord.
This young life requires such constant
expenditure of my energies and affections,
till I feel drained of both.
But you, O Jesus, knew in your own flesh
the constraints of the human condition,
for you also experienced the weariness
of long hours tending endless needs.
I beg now your provision of grace
as I face the coming hours. I long for
the moment when sleep finds me,
but till then, I pray your strength
would be at work even in my weakness.
Now fill my empty cup again,
with patience and with peace,
that I might pour it out
for my child, in joy.
About the Author:
Born to a math-teaching father and an art-teaching mother, Leslie Eiler Thompson’s work balances craft and calculation. This work takes on many forms – from podcast hosting & producing, to writing and voiceover work, to owning a creative consulting studio. Leslie and her husband Mike make a home in the hills with their daughter Alice just outside the Nashville, Tennessee skyline.
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