To Be A Life-Giving Woman
I’m sorry. I just have too much on my plate right now. How many times have I heard (or spoken) those words recently? It’s the mantra of the American woman. We are busy. Overloaded. Stretched thin. This time of year especially, our stress and worry and hurry reach epidemic proportions. I find myself crying out to no one in particular… Where are the life-giving women? I’m not saying they’re non-existent – I’m incredibly blessed to have some of them in my life – but let’s face it. They can be hard to find. So many of us just seem drained and wrought out and haggard.
Sweet friend, who are we trying to please? And when did this become a competition? When did “busy” become the preferred adjective to describe our lives?
I read stories about women who do it differently. These seemingly-too-good-to-be-true stories of earthy, extraordinary women who actually find the time to do life-giving things. They plant gardens and gather their colorful harvest by the basketfuls and bake fresh bread with their homegrown zucchini. They sip tea on their porches and watch the butterflies while the kids romp in the yard with the golden retriever. It’s true. I read a story just like this the other day.
Part of me is mesmerized by the dream of a life like this. The other part of me thinks what the heck. How is this even possible? And maybe this picture doesn’t appeal to you at all. Maybe what feels life-giving to you looks completely different. But I think we all harbor a longing somewhere down deep to create beauty, to bring about justice, and to nurture God’s creation in some way. We are here to be life-givers. It’s what we were made for and what gives us the most joy.
Life-givers recognize their own thirst. They know when they’re becoming dry and parched and where to go to be refilled.
I keep telling myself I need to make time or find time to do the things that nourish my soul and inspire those around me to do the same. But I’m beginning to realize there’s something faulty in this line of thinking. I’m pretty sure the women (and men) who live like this don’t just magically find the time to do the things that matter to them. They don’t live with the illusion they can make more time. The only One who can make time is God and He has already allotted to each of us a finite amount of it on this earth.
These people carve out time for life-giving things. To carve. It’s a verb. It implies intentional etching into something tangible, like an engraver etching words into a piece of silver or a woodworker carving his design into a piece of raw wood. It’s a thoughtful and purposeful process because the carver wants to make a lasting imprint. It’s not about simply moving stuff around. It involves a displacement, taking away something that was once there to make room for something more desirable. My empty promises to “try to find the time” look more like a crazy woman frantically digging in the sand with a flimsy plastic bucket from Dollar General. There’s always more sand flowing back in to refill the hole.
Life-givers don’t pile their plates so high there’s nothing left for anyone else. They leave margin. They make sure there’s room for the non-negotiables, like rest and play and creativity. They have time to really listen when you sit down with them. They’re careful not to cram their schedules so full there’s no room to help when someone needs a meal or a ride or an encouraging word.
Life-givers recognize their own thirst. They know when they’re becoming dry and parched and where to go to be refilled. Even when they feel empty themselves, they know how to dig deep and bring out that refreshing cup of cold water for a thirsty fellow sojourner.
I’m so thankful for the life-givers who have poured life into me. I see in them the personification of the “artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life”. These women drink deeply and often at the well Jesus offered the broken Samaritan woman when he said, “Drink this and you’ll never be thirsty again.” (John 4:14) They don’t take themselves too seriously. They are generous with their laughter and smiles and hugs and my life is so much richer because they’re in it.
This time of year we’re all saying the same things. In a couple of weeks, when the semester ends, when the kids are out of school, when we take our annual trip to the beach, when I get past this deadline… Beloved sister, what about now?
I plan to carve out some time today to be refreshed at the well. Join me there?