Mother Letters: Containers

Dear Fellow Mamas….

Sit down.  Release those tense shoulders that are almost reaching your ears.  Breathe in and out.  Quiet your mind for a minute.  Block out the loud voices, clamoring for attention—-be it thoughts of the day or your little’s constant quest for your undivided attention.

What are you carrying around inside?  What unreachable expectations are you holding onto?  What fears grip your thoughts?  What kind of “container” are you these days?

My late grandmother (1902-2001) often had a hand-painted, glass pitcher on her table.  It usually was filled with cold orange juice, condensation clinging to the outside surface.  For me, it symbolized normalcy, hospitality, comfort, nourishment.  It was one of the special items in her house, filled with antiques and museum worthy pieces, that I really treasured and hoped to save.

Now that it sits on our shelf, each time I pull it out to use it (and my eldest picks it up to pour the contents into his plastic IKEA cup) I hold my breath a bit, praying that the pitcher doesn’t carelessly slide, fall, break and shatter. I fear for its fragility.  I doubt that it will survive the instability of daily life with two busy, unpredictable boys.  I worry that I won’t be able to provide that same calming, hospitable, centering table of peace and nourishment to my boys that my grandmother did for me.  I fear that they will remember moments of Mom yelling, pouring out impatience and expectations and exasperation, rather than recalling calm and peace.  I find that many days I am not a container for the emotions I desperately want to pour out.

Moment by moment, five short years into the process of motherhood, my stubborn need to be the perfect container is being shattered and reformed.  Those walking this same road, whether before me or alongside me, or even those without children yet, form the cheerleading squad of love.  Friends that lay down their own pressing needs, intense stresses and demands and put me first.  Their love and listening ears become a container for me.  A container for my fears, questions and insecurities.  A container reminding me that stability can only come through weakness and vulnerability.

As a mom, even more than in prior roles as a student, teacher, wife or friend, I am learning that we are called to be contained by, surrounded with, dependent on a Love that is deeper, wider, stronger and more consistent that we could ever be.  God wants to contain us, to give us a place to rest in his peace.

All doubt,                

despair and fear      

become insignificant   

once the intention of life

becomes love.


Dearest Mamas….how might our lives be changed if we truly lived with love as our intention?  Our sole motivation.  Pushing away doubt.  Breaking the grip of fear.  Throwing off the weight of despair.  How might we be better equiped to love if we sunk into the enveloping Love of God, allowing it to contain each decision, word and move we made?

Motherhood is often a container that feels heavy with doubt, fear and despair.  When preparing for the journey, registering for car seats, burp cloths and jogging strollers, decorating nurseries, the container of motherhood holds anticipation and much love.  When the realities of sleep deprivation, shortened tempers and competing demands rise, though, remaining a container of love, a vessel for peace and hospitality and giver of nourishment—-well, that often feels very far off and almost comical.

Mamas, despite the challenges, may we still be containers, welcoming vessels of a deeper Love.  A bigger, wider, richer Love than we are capable of pouring out of our own reserves.  Mamas, may you feel nourished, built up and held.  May you find reserves and vision to pour that same Love back out into the spheres you move and breath in.  And Mamas, when you breathe that love out, allowing it to flow from your words and actions, even when everything within wants to run and do the opposite, may you know that God seeks only to use you as a container.  Messed up, broken, tired, overwhelmed as we might be, God still has chosen to use us as holy containers.

Push on, despite the fragility, even in fearful and despairing moments, and chose to pour out Love.  May we be a resting place of peace, even in the pull your hair out moments, holding firm to the Truth of our own freeing containment by God.

Linking up with The Mother Letters ProjectRead about it then join your “Mother Letter” to the conversation. And get your copy of the Mother Letters ebook here.

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