Of Grace & Growth #3: Giving Out to Make Room for More
By Sydney Dorr
I can’t prove it, but I think that when God explained Eve’s share of the Curse, he mentioned “Daylight Savings Time” along with “pain in childbearing”. For most of you the time change is probably a hazy memory, but my two-year-old is still raising hell over his new sleep schedule. The wee morning hours around here involve a lot of rage, tears, and unreasonable demands. The toddler has been pretty upset, too.
Rough mornings make for rough days; patience, energy and joy are mostly tapped out by the time I get up. I cling to my remaining resources, fearful of depleting them completely. My day becomes a zero-sum game that my kids are winning.
But when Jesus said that he came to give us abundant life, he didn’t caution careful conservation. Instead, he has a thing about giving over receiving. Stuff to say about sowing in order to reap. He seems to think I will have more than enough if I give the little I’ve got. At my cranky 7:00 am, releasing my resources sounds like a terrible idea. But I like him (a lot) and I trust him (mostly), so I’ve been trying to obey. Here’s what it’s looked like for me this month.
Connecting with Jesus: This means checking in with him in the critical moment right before I yell at my son to PUT YOUR SHOES ON FOR THE LOVE OF HEAVEN. Honestly? When Jesus invites me to talk with him in those moments I want to snap at him to leave me alone. Doesn’t he realize I am trying to get stuff done? I don’t have the time to pause for a chat about my feelings. But when I invest in even a minute with him, he returns to me patience and peace. I can go in grace and save myself a little yelling.
Connecting with Nature: Herding my crew outside typically resembles herding cats. One recent afternoon the boys were ricocheting off the walls as my empty threats flew thick and fast, colliding with boots in mid-air. I slumped against the washer and calculated my remaining energy: there was enough for 4 hours of holding the fort inside until bedtime, or 10 minutes of cat-herding young people out the door. After a brief but fierce internal struggle, I opted for the walk. 10 minutes later I stepped outside, totally drained, into a crisp, sunshiny afternoon. As my sons scampered ahead and I trailed behind, I felt refreshed. Energy seeped slowly back into my bones and I returned with enough to carry me through the evening. It was a loaves and fishes kind of moment, suddenly there was more than enough of me to go around.
Connecting with Kiddos: Naptime is my favorite. The toddler sleeps, the preschooler watches TV, and I recharge in my room. But in this rough month I’ve realized I depend on this routine because I believe that I will only have enough emotional energy to love my children well if I don’t spend too much time with them. Yeesh. After losing TV privileges a couple of days this month, the preschooler invaded my naptime haven with questions and clambering and asking-for-snacks. In rising frustration I tried to preserve “me time”, but finally gave up. We snuggled and read, talked and wrestled. We connected. I chose to give out of my small emotional store and instead of my son draining the tank, that precious punk filled it up with his big eyes and squishy cheeks and unending, hilarious questions.
I’m often still kind of grudging about letting go, but every time I do, Jesus proves his point. Even when I’m tapped out, he takes my small stock and uses it to create an abundance of peace, joy, and connection in my life and the lives of those around me.
Tell me your story! How have you seen Jesus create abundance when you’ve released your resources? Where is he inviting you to give what you have?