I recently caught myself engaging in a harmful habit. It came to light one morning after a child made a reasonable request to which I heard myself exhale a dramatic sigh. In that moment, it occurred to me that I’d been responding that way a lot. Sighing had become a “tell” for my begrudging. It enabled me to indicate my true [not so pretty] feelings without using a single word.
“Mama, can you read this book to me?” I sigh [I’d rather finish the dishes] and turn off the faucet.
“Waaaaaaaaaaa” erupts from the baby monitor. I sigh [husband, isn’t it your turn?] and roll out of bed.
“Mama, he hit me.” I sigh [Again? I’m so sick of refereeing] and intervene.
“Sorry, honey, I still have another two hours of work.” I sigh [ok, but I’m not happy about it] and tell my husband bye.
This seemingly harmless gesture indicated a whole lot of ugly in my heart. Those sighs packed a punch—they bore the full weight of my weariness, frustration, self-pity and resentment. All of which were simply fruit of my underlying root problem: discontentment.
If I could just have more sleep, time, help, quiet then everything would be better. It’s so easy to tell myself this lie and justify the problems that seemingly arise from my lack. As mothers, we give and give and give until sometimes we literally feel empty. We give words and looks and touch and help and provision endlessly. And if we rely on ourselves as the source for all of these needs we’ll end up pretty discontent pretty fast because we’ll come up short every time. Our resources—time, energy, sleep, patience, wisdom– are limited.
The only way to ensure abundance and contentment as a mama-giver is to seek help from the One who never lacks– the One who is able to cause all grace to abound on our behalf: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” 2 Corinthians 9:8. In Christ, we can do more than “survive” the daily grind of motherhood. In Christ, we can “abound” in all the good works that motherhood affords. In Christ, we can serve our children joyfully and generously. In Christ, we find the humility to read our child a book at an inconvenient time. In Christ, we find the patience to soothe a cranky baby in the middle of the night. In Christ, we find the grace to train our children in the midst of their fighting. In Christ, we find the strength to joyfully watch our children for two hours longer than expected. In Christ, we have sufficiency in all things at all times for every good work.
Admitting our lack and receiving from God’s abundance, naturally draws our hearts to gratitude. We find our hearts crying out, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15. We recognize that this infinite Giver has already given us the greatest gift possible: salvation. In gratitude, we desire to honor and mirror Christ through self-sacrifice. We perceive that each of our acts of service to our family have the potential to be a gift. And these small, selfless acts give occasion to live the Gospel.
When we draw upon God’s abundance, our emptiness results in joy. We joyfully return to the Giver who never lacks and find ourselves filled. Ultimately, we find our sighs of resentment exchanged for sighs of contentment as we bask in His vast and good provision.