If we were having coffee or chai, I’d take a sip and then ask how you’re doing. How are you doing?
As a friend asked recently, are you drinking enough water? Are you moving your body and getting enough rest? We are more than mere soul and spirit. We are embodied creations, real-life flesh and blood. It seems so obvious a thing to say until we enter seasons of sleep deprivation or physical pain. Our limitation in this earthly shell has a way of bringing back that reminder. We are needy. We are not superheros.
My oldest son turned eight years old last week. When I think back to the week of his birth, I am confronted with memories of my own weakness. The transition from pregnancy to mothering was a shock to the system in every way, but most acutely to my physical body. We were in and out of the hospital that first week which meant that no one (not mama, nor dada, nor baby) got enough sleep. I remember crying out to God in between tears of exhaustion and feelings of fear —how do I do this?— and asking for help to guide us through that difficult transition. The Spirit of Christ was with us back then, just as he is today.
The Baptism of Motherhood and Bodily Limitations
It was Jesus who said to another mother (of Zebedee’s sons), “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
The Son of God knew what was ahead for his mission, that he would have to lay down his body and very life, while the mortals only wanted to secure their own places of comfort and preservation.
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:22, 26-28)
My baptism into motherhood was life altering. I went to that hospital one person and came out changed. The days and years to come would provide ample opportunity to test the strength of my body and my love for my sons, each time bringing me low before the throne of God, whispering those common prayers of, “Help me.”
Whether you are a mother or father caring for young (or not-so-young) children, or a sister or brother walking alongside a sibling, or a friend or neighbor tending to someone in your life–we all have situations that push the limits of our physical selves. And maybe that is the defining characteristic of this earthly era? One day we will be free from the limits and pains and brokenness of our bodies, but for now, may we welcome the Holy Spirit to help us pray a new prayer.
A Prayer for the Tired, the Wavering, and the Human
I am a mother, so I pray a mother’s prayer. But where ever you are, whatever the challenge, there is room to pray something similar. Our Lord Jesus Christ was uniquely both divine and man, the only One who transcended the two worlds completely. His experience of suffering has made the way for both you and I to know God. Let that sink in for a minute.
This is what I wrote in my journal this morning (change the words to make it your own…maybe this can be your prayer today, too.)
we are broken bread
we are poured out wine
we are a sacrament embodied
for our children to taste and see that
the Lord is good in our home.
As disciples of Jesus, we will be spent on behalf of others. This is what makes us look like him, feel like him, sound like him. His spiritual presence in us…our physical presence with others.
“Remember man, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”