God has set apart the home as his. Home is a place where his presence is to be felt and his purposes are to be pursued. He places parents in those homes as watchmen, pastors, priests, shepherds, teachers, and warriors who have been called and commissioned to pass on their faith to their children for the sake of the world. Motherhood is not an easy mission. But it is God’s. – Hoodwinked, By Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk.
Oh how easy it is to feel like “just a mom.” To hear stories of those doing remarkable things – both in their personal/business lives, as well as those who are on the front-lines in missions and ministry and feel somehow insignificant. Stories of people whose lives seem to scream purpose.
And, these thoughts always come at the most opportune time, too. Listening to a story on the news of some great entrepreneur who invented a life-changing medical device while I’m on my knees in my living room trying to scrub the snot, apple juice, and who-knows-what-else stains out of my couch. Sitting in church on Sunday and hearing about incredible missions exploits and listening to testimonies of lives changed, all while picking ground cheerios out of the carpet and scribbling stick figures on a hot-pink notepad in a mostly-futile attempt to keep my toddler quiet enough for me to stay IN the service for even 5 minutes before it’s back to wandering the halls.
It’s not that I don’t value what I do as a mom. I do. But, well, sometimes it seems insignificant. When I get to the end of the day and all I have to show for myself is a loaf of bread cooling on the counter, three loads of laundry all over my living room in various states of folding, and two children who I’ve managed to keep ALIVE for another day, it doesn’t seem like much. And, that’s on a good day. We won’t even talk about the not-so-good days.
And the thing is, I know deep down that what I’m doing is so incredibly, crucially, important. There are moments, oh there are moments, when I can sense eternity in my living room. When I can feel the life-defining weight of the lesson at hand – as I guide my toddler through something that seems too big for them to handle. Times when I can sense the presence and the power of God in my home so vividly. Times when I look into the eyes staring back at me and I know, deep in my soul, that mothering this life that has been entrusted to me is so, SO important.
But if you’re anything like me, some days eternity gets muddled in the mundane.
In the hours and hours spent cleaning messy diapers and messy floors and messy laundry and messy kitchens. . . In the chaos and noise and million bazillion questions that my toddler manages to ask every single moment of the day that sometimes make this introverted not-a-huge-talker sort of mama use the restroom in the dark because even the sound of the ceiling fan is JUST. TOO. MUCH. NOISE.
And it can be easy in the midst of those days to feel somehow wasted. As though the creative, organized, administrative, writing, and speaking parts of me have somehow been swallowed up by the vastness of motherhood, and are wilting away – along with the potted plants in my house that haven’t been watered in. . . Days? Weeks? Who knows. But they’re goners.
And that’s how I feel too some days. Like huge parts of who I was – (who I am?) – are just goners too.
“You can still do them!” people say. “Make time!” And while I understand that, and am coming to value the few precious moments I have to myself in the mornings or evenings, sometimes those extra things just seem too exhausting to do at this stage in the game. I LOVE to host people in my home. I love to cook and to bake and to help others. Someone needs a meal? SIGN. ME. UP. A poster needs to be designed? YES, please! Speaking?! I LOVE TO SPEAK. Give me a topic. Any topic. Write a paper? Oh heavens above, I thought you’d never ask.
And yet, I can barely cook enough meals for my family of 4, let alone make extras to just give away. With Sam at class in the evenings, dinner time becomes something to GET through some nights, not really something to invite someone TO. Meal planning, preschool, and my haphazard house cleaning schedule are about all the organization I can handle in a week. Writing? Speaking? Still love them. But I can barely even THINK in complete sentences anymore, let alone speak or write them. I can’t remember the last time I actually FINISHED a thought (this post has taken me 2 months to write. . . If that gives you any indication on how much I’m interrupted). Heck, even a phone call can’t contain complete thoughts without me stopping mid-sentence to shout ridiculous things like: “DON’T FLUSH THE KITTY DOWN THE TOILET!”
So I guess it’s not so much that I think those parts of me are completely gone – it’s just that, well, I’m too tired, and too worn out, and too distractedly busy to do much of anything with them. Which sometimes makes them feel as wilted and dead as my pathetic excuse for house plants.
Without realizing it, I had slipped into a mom-of-little-ones mindset that said something along the lines of: “I can’t do *such and such* now, but someday I’ll be able to.”
I mean, right? Maybe I can’t be a public speaker now. Maybe I don’t write much anymore. Maybe I can’t bring people meals as often as I’d hoped. Maybe my creativity burns out after planning a week’s worth of preschool activities. But it’s a season. I have little toddlers. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll feel like a human again someday.
But what on earth good does “someday” do TODAY?
I’ll tell you how much good it does me. About as much good as those brown, wilted, very-dead orchids sitting on my table are doing me.
I can’t find purpose in what I do NOW by hoping for what I can do LATER. “Someday” just isn’t good enough!
The first summer that Sam and I were married, he was a commissioned officer in the US Air Force, but they hadn’t given him an assignment yet. We spent months living in a tiny apartment and doing part-time computer tech and nannying jobs just to get by while we waited for his active duty orders to come. Waited -in limbo – for “someday.”
But I am not in that place as a mom. I am not waiting for orders. The second our little (ok, huge. . .almost 11-lb), squirmy bundle was placed into my arms one November day a few years ago, I wasn’t placed in limbo, I received NEW ORDERS.
I saw a quote by Andy Stanley a while back that goes like this:
“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”
Woah. You know those times when someone says something and you feel like you kind of really needed the reminder but also like they just punched you in the gut? Yeah. This was one of those times.
Did you catch that?
“Your GREATEST contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”
It’s not about the wilt. It’s not about putting the “real ME” on hold for a while to focus on my children so that I can get to such-and-such later.
I AM NOT “ON HOLD.”
I am not waiting for my turn to do great things.
I am not wilting away in a barren wasteland of messes and questions and bedtimes and diapers.
He’s called me here.
To do this.
To bring my own unique skills into the raising of two precious little ones. And if I allow myself to be thrown into this task of joining with their creator in raising and shaping the lives of the little ones entrusted to me, then my focus changes from something that looks outward to the time when maybe I’ll do ___________, and instead chooses to SEE eternity in my every day.
This IS my contribution.
Maybe my GREATEST contribution.
And if that doesn’t breathe purpose into the hours spent doing tasks that could otherwise seem menial, I don’t know what does. My exploits might not seem as great on paper. And my loaf of bread doesn’t really compare to that medical device.
But I’m not called there. I’m called here.
Called to have my hands in the dough, my knees on the carpet, and my heart tuned to hear my Savior as I join with him in shepherding, guiding, teaching, and watching over the lives and hearts of the two (soon to be three) amazing little ones who call me mom.