Today was Sunday, a day I have often thought of as the high point of my week – a day to refuel myself and refill my empty cup, allowing me to focus my mind and start off my week with God at the forefront of my mind.
But like just about every Sunday of late, it felt like it did little of the sort.
I suppose I should be grateful. At least, he sat through the Lord’s Supper for the first time in forever. Usually, he picks this time of reflection just when everyone is trying to focus on Jesus’ sacrifice to scream out as loud as he can and begin searching for food. Today we got through it. Well, kind of. The Lord’s Supper started with baby Z yelling at the people behind us for attention, and finished with me holding him tightly and calmly muttering in his ear over and over, “Shhhhhh… We’re all thinking about Jesus now. It’s time to think about Jesus.”
Well, at least, I was trying to think of Jesus. I guess I was mostly preoccupied with keeping him quiet so everyone else could think of Jesus – and with working out how to receive my little cup of grape juice without having him knock it over.
As for the singing, thankfully he loves that. Guaranteed cry-stopper. He will sit through any amount of singing without complaint. So I take the time to try to focus on the words while also focusing on trying to hold the song book at just the right distance: close enough so I can see it, and far enough away enough so he doesn’t rip out the pages. His new trick is turning pages, however his fine motor skills are still somewhat lacking.
The sermon was about how we are made to be joyful; at least, that’s what I heard before I had to go out and feed him. I did hear something across the speaker about Asaph, and then something about Paul and Silas, but not really much else of any substance. Actually, I think I heard him say something about how babies were joyful, as my boy screamed away because he was hungry and wet. I spent my energy trying to settle him down into a feed between several nappy changes. That boy sure knows how to wet his pants.
He did manage to sleep a little – through the cradle roll class. Yes. At a time actually designed for him to learn and interact, he decides to sleep – and I am left awake singing and learning about how God made the clouds, and the leaves, and the crocodiles, and the giraffes, and the bees, and the flowers, and the rain, and the butterflies, and the birds, and the fish, and mummy, and daddy, and brother, and sister, and baby, and…
You get the picture.
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I really understand now. I used to think mothers were just lazy for not bringing their children out, but it really is hard. I now have every sympathy. It’s hard to go every Sunday to worship God and find that you are forced to divide your attention between God and the little boy entrusted to your care. It’s hard to spend time training a little one to sit. Because it’s hard, I see many mothers give up, and either spend their time in the nursery chatting with other mums or stop coming to the worship hour all together.
I get it. It can be so hard. So discouraging. So demoralising.
But I want to tell you, young mother, that Sunday is not the time right now for filling your cup. Yes, before baby it may have been a time for you to have your soul revived and refreshed; but now as one, two, three babies sit with you in the pew and you struggle desperately between feeds, changes, screams, spanks, and giggles to maintain some kind of order and perhaps maybe just take away something that can carry you through the week. Anything…
Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. And it isn’t for not trying. Oh, you have tried, while you prayed and cried in frustration, but Sunday just doesn’t help you that much. Often it leaves you feeling emptier rather than full, as you give all your energy to others.
And I have to tell you if you are expecting for Sundays to be filling your cup – you’re going to be disappointed for a long time.
That doesn’t mean it is a time to give worship up, or give up trying to pay attention, however. There are so many reasons why sticking with the worship assembly right now and always is so important (that can be a whole another blog post!). Now is not a time to give up, but a time to let necessity change your habits.
It’s time, young mum, to learn to fill your own cup. It’s time to let God into your every day.
Maybe you’ve already had great study and prayer habits long before now and have been able to fit those habits nicely into your baby’s schedule – if that’s you – that’s fantastic!
For many, however, having a baby means such a huge overturning of their lives that they are left spiritually anaemic. They are used to being spoon fed, and aren’t used to hunting and gathering for their own sustenance. While Bible study may have been hard to get into the habit to learn before, it seems impossible now – and with the added burden of not being able to pay attention during worship service, they feel themselves drifting farther and farther away from God.
If that describes you, then now is the time for a change.
Look at your baby as a way to grow positive habits, rather than an excuse to shun them. There is no doubt that a baby is a huge life changer. It tests every synapse and sinew. It’s a huge challenge – but because of that, it also can be a great catalyst for positive habits to be formed. The greater the test, the greater the growth potential.
Do what it takes to teach yourself how to get in the Word and let it change your life.
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As for motivation, I use my baby as motivation to keep filling my cup.
I want him to see me have a personal relationship with God daily.
I want him to hear me speak God’s Word from the overflow.
I want to know wise and godly answers to his burning questions when he’s ready to ask them.
I want him to know Sunday is not the only time to fill his cup.
…and I need God’s wisdom. Oh, how I need it. I just can’t do this parenting thing on my own.
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So for now, I will hear snippets of sermons, balance song books just out of his reach, and try to think of God’s Son whole my son squirms around – giving up my free refill to reap those future benefits of faithfulness in my offspring.
But my soul will be satisfied because my child is not an excuse to be distracted, but a reason to stay focused.
I will fill my own cup – because no one else can fill it for me.
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If you are wondering just how to fill your cup, here are some suggestions:
- Find time to read and intentionally move through Scripture. This is number one. No matter how many sermons or podcasts you listen to, this is the most important. Spend time getting to know and understand the Creator for yourself. The going may be slow, but the effort you put in will be rewarded. For more details, I recommend purchasing a copy of Women of the Word, by Jen Wilkin – it’s like a mini hermeneutics course for women.
- Listen to Bible-based podcasts while you do chores. I don’t use this to replace my Bible study, but to supplement it. My favourite podcasts are Wifey Wednesdays and Uniquely Woman.
- Make the Bible a topic of conversation around the dinner table. It doesn’t have to be forced. Share what you are learning. Discuss difficult concepts. Make the Word come alive in your lives, rather than having it be a Sunday thing.
- Find a way that works with your personality. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it matters that you do it. If you need accountability, take a course. If you need freedom, go to your favourite cafe. If you need time, get up a bit earlier than baby (tough, I know). Whatever helps you to get closer to God, do it.
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3 thoughts on “Dear Young Mum, Don’t Expect Sunday to Fill Your Cup ”
I agree with everything you said, and I wish I had been more intentional about personal Bible study when my children were babies. Listening to podcasts when I’m making meals is also an extra way I like to learn now. The training you are doing now with your son sitting for a sermon will pay off, as we now often get comments from people if we visit other churches, about how well-behaved our children are. This is only after *lots* of practice and repetition!
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You have rightly pointed out this big problem I faced for so many years! I wish I had figured out that I needed to fill my own cup. This is a great reminder. Thank you!
Your post takes me back to early years parenting in worship life… & all the busyness it involves. Even just supporting other mums by sharing in crèche gives the opportunity to listen. Very good insight…I was there trying to avoid shreaded pages! 😊