Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. –Colossians 3:24
“You know what I am?! I’m a MOTHER OCTOPUS! Just feeding and cleaning all day and then I die!”
My husband and kids looked up bewildered for a fraction of a second before returning to whatever else they deemed more important than my dramatic, declaration, of self pity. Exactly my point – just a Mother Octopus.
It was a Saturday morning and for the last two hours I had been buzzing about as a short order cook. “Mom I’m cold I need my blanket”; “Mom can I have chocolate milk?”; “Mom, the chocolate milk?”; “Mom can I have some toast?”; “I don’t like toast I want a waffle”; “Mom can I watch MY show now?” “Mom! Mom! Mom!” My once warmed coffee had now become and iced beverage. My three kids sat comfortably on the couch, their eyes glued to the tv as a british sounding narrator droned on …something about deep sea life…coral reefs…fish, more fish…sharks…and then the OCTOPUS.
Reality check: Mothers can be exhausted and empty.
“…the mother octopus reproduces only once in her lifetime and puts all of her available energy into caring for her eggs. She finds a den and lays her eggs there. After that she spends her whole time cleaning them and aerating them…She does not eat. She does not leave her den except to defend her eggs from predators. She lives for her eggs and has no other purpose in life….Shortly after the eggs hatch, she dies– starving and exhausted.”
The Mother Octopus! My spirit animal! And apart from the whole “starving” thing (because, well chips), I knew her, knew the struggle. Day in and day out, in a den of a home, caring for demanding and needy little ones, all seemingly unaware of their mother’s exhausted state. Oh how I wanted to find that mother octopus and give her big ol’ Cephalopod head a squeeze! To hold a tentacle and tell her she was doing a good job, tell her she was pretty. Even offer to watch her brood so she could have a minute to herself, maybe go up to the surface for a bit of sunshine.
But alas…our friendship was never meant to be.
Christ fills the emptiness with hope and purpose and gives rest to the exhausted.
If you too can relate to the mother octopus and know exactly what I’m talking about, well then let me just say, I see you – I see the struggle and I applaud you. You are doing a good job! You are beautiful. You are strong. You have purpose. And you will not be abandoned to the bottom of the sea.
I have struggled with anxiety and depression for a number of years. I have known seasons of dark despair and sweat soaked nights of anxiety. I know what it’s like to feel desperate, and yet equally as hopeless because there seems to be no point at all. The cause? Who knows – maybe genetics, maybe hormones; marriage, kids, life in general; unrealistic expectations, failures; and everything in between. The cure? I am not so sure there is one. Life is hard. The exhaustion is real. And there’s not enough caffeine in the world to change that. So then what? Well I am definitely no expert on the matter, but I can speak to what I have learned in the valleys.
- I have learned to acknowledge AND accept my exhaustion. If I am not first willing to acknowledge what I am honestly feeling, then I am left to flounder in denial. Alone and vulnerable to the lies of defeat.
- I press in to my exhaustion through the power and truth of the Holy Spirit. Our infinite God is the creator of our finite hearts. In this life there is sin and suffering. It’s messy and He knows we could never bare it alone. And so he continues to invite us to rest in him:
“Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find REST for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30
And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you REST” Exodus 33:14
“Return, O my soul, to your REST; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” Psalm 116:7 ESV
- I am learning to speak my exhaustion to those whom I love and trust: In the same way God’s Word speaks His truth, His people can offer the tangible love and support we need. Let people see you. Really see you. Let them help you. God’s love can be felt through the knowing hug of a husband; it can be seen through the offer of family to watch little ones; and it can be heard through the encouraging words of a friend.
- I am beginning to understand the importance of shifting my focus. There’s nothing like inwardly obsessing over one’s own self pity to perpetuate a downward spiral of darkness. BUT, when I choose to look up and begin to give thanks to God for all that he has done, my eyes are opened anew to His goodness and provision.
God desires for us to live a life of fullness in HIM. He is who has given us purpose. He is who can give us true REST. And all glory to HIM our fates do not have to be the same as the Mother Octopus!
Corrie Gerbatz is a stay at home mother of three with a desire to encourage families in their faith and daily lives through her personal stories- shared with honesty and humor. You can find more about her through her blog: www.gerbatzdailygrind.com or through her social media channels: Instagram: gerbatz_daily_grind and Facebook: Corrie Gerbatz
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