Have you ever tasted water that has been left sitting for a few days or weeks? Or glanced into a bucket of standing water? Nasty, isn’t it? The stale taste. The algae. The mosquito larvae. The dead smell. It is not something you would want to use for bathing in or cleaning your home or wetting your parched throat. In order to be fresh, water must be poured out and refilled on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Only then is it fit for the purposes for which it is needed, such as cleaning and refreshment.
Not long ago this Vessel of the King pondered that fact of nature. Since I am no longer a career woman and my daily routine consists of caring for my household and all that it entails, my thoughts frequently wander to my identity. Do I have an identity now? Will I lose sight of who I am as a woman? As an individual? Am I good for nothing else but to cook and clean, mend and mother? When the day is done, will anyone remember me? Sometimes I feel self-conscious when I am standing in line by a woman dressed in her business attire and holding her tablet. I am aware of the spit up on my shoulder; my pony tail haphazardly done up; my chipped toenail polish. In those moments I urgently feel the need to preserve myself; to look out for me.
This is especially true now that I have a toddler on the go who has his mind made up and attempting to change it is akin to defusing a land mine. I carefully guard any time that I have for myself. I am reluctant to do anything that will jeopardize afternoon naps or early bedtimes. Excursions out of the house are meticulously planned to conserve energy, and I always evaluate whether the profit of the outing is worth the effort expended. I am slow to volunteer or commit to anything because I just don’t know if people can count on me to show up. This is so different from how I used to be. I feel like I was once the professional woman; the name that everyone knew; the hands that could be called on to help out when a need arose; a somebody in the community. But now I realize that those thoughts reflect an incorrect perspective of life.
My instinct is to guard me, protect myself, keep “I” front and center. I think that I have to preserve my identity as an individual, as someone separate from everyone else. And so I put boundaries in place, build walls, and keep a certain amount of distance between me and too much service, even service to my family. But doing so will only cause me to stagnate, turn stale, and grow nasty habits of selfishness, pride, and entitlement. My identity is in Christ and this means that I am His vessel to be filled up with His love and compassion so that I can be poured out in care and service to those He has entrusted to me. As I am emptied through His work, He will cultivate in me a character that reflects Himself. If I am doing His will, caring for His home and children, and serving the husband whom He gave to me, I do not need to worry about “my time” or “my self.” Even if I am a nobody to the world and can’t envision my identity as anything but wife and mom, what does it matter? I am simply a vessel created to be filled and emptied by the King of kings. For someone not fit to even untie the sandals of the Creator, being His vessel is the highest of honors.
Amy Carmichael determined that she would burn out before she rusted out because she was walking in the footsteps of Christ. Should we ever take a break from doing that?