Questions

1,929 days

1,929 days. That equates to 275 weeks or 63 months. 1,929 days into this job, with only ten days and nights’ break in that entire period, and I am tired.

The walls of my home are my castle and my prison. A haven that I cultivate and a drain of physical energy and mental acuity. I glory in being at home. I long to escape its confinement.

So where do I go from here? How do relax enough to sleep, rise early for personal quiet time, and wake my four gifts from God with all the love that I feel alongside a multitude of other emotions? How do I continue in this marathon of epic proportions and eternal ramifications?

God, please help me.

Ponderings · Questions · Reorienting Myself

Who am I?

The question “Who are you when no one is watching?” helps a person gauge their honesty and integrity. Everyone could benefit from this self-reflection from time to time. A more pressing and important question for mothers could be, “Who are you when you are not loving your husband and children, tending the house, or preparing the next meal?”

“I do not know,” has many times been my puzzled response since I cannot think of a time in the last five years when I did not have an immediate responsibility or obligation. I make the time to read a little every day, and sincerely wish that I could play the piano, but who am I apart from a mother?

Motherhood involves a lot of emptying out of ourselves, consumes massive amounts of time and energy, and is a daily struggle against selfishness. So when I am at the end of myself or the end of long day, how do I fill my empty soul?

Podcasts, clothing, exercise, job or volunteer-related recognition, Netflix, blogging and more sit easily within reach to help me define or distract myself. What about God? I go to Him and must quietly concentrate to read His Word. I go to Him and am convicted by the anger I felt the previous day. I go to God, and this is not easy.

***

I become what I think I about. Reliving a frustrating situation does not help me “vent,” it instead strengthens neural pathways. Following my heart does not automatically bring happiness or fulfillment, for “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). No, I must put my thoughts where I want them to be. Sometimes this feels as if I am stooping down, scooping up the turbulent waters of my thoughts and feelings, and turning around 180 degrees before I set them down with a determined “plop.”

When I am not in the present moment with my husband and children, where I “go” really matters. Where I put my thoughts is not akin to choosing which pair of shoes to wear or what meal to order. Where my thoughts dwell is a choice about how I will live and interact with my world. In Philippians 4:8 we read, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Last year I extensively studied God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Really grasping that it is by grace I have been saved, I was able to see and love people who hurt me with abundant grace. What is deep inside spills out when we are “squeezed” by life.

Similarly, choosing who or what defines me is a decision made daily, and sometimes more often than that. Am I the things that I do, the position that I hold, or am I a creation defined by my Creator? Does my worth come from myself or from the fact that I am made in the image of God? Like the dandelions that perennially poke their heads through my cultivated lawn, again and again I tend towards trying to define myself and my worth. But oh!, the peace, comfort, and security that comes in knowing that I am simply because He made me and loves me. I do not have to struggle or strive to earn His love or be a self-made woman. I can freely live and abundantly love, unthreatened by what others think of me, unashamed by what I could not accomplish this day, and undaunted by my shriveling resume.

Today I loved God by seeking Him first. I loved my neighbors – the little people living in the bedrooms lining my hallway, the people across the street and next door, and the people in my inbox. I simply “was” today. And I “am” right now. And that is enough.

Questions

Is This All?

Is this all God intends me to be? All body, creating and bearing, loving and serving? Wiping tears and dirty bottoms, serving meal after meal. Teaching and re-teaching the basic lessons of life: be kind, love your enemies, honor your parents, and worship the Creator. Work so important and so encompassing that I feel overwhelmed by its high demands and yet trapped in claustrophobic tightness by my little audience and limited subject matter.

I dream of directing government policy projects with huge objectives that improve the life of millions, of being somebody and using my mind more than my body. I am light years away from that vision. Yet stopping to reflect, I realize that I do lead according to Biblical principles. My audience of children may be limited, but my influence over them is far greater than I could ever have with any constituents.

The work done here at home really matters – yielding tremendous consequences for all eternity. For what happens here day in and day out – these routines and behaviors that we practice, the books that we read, the conversations that we hold – form who we are and inform what we do when we go into the world. It is in this present, each messy moment of it, that we shape characters, form imaginations, decide to follow Christ, and encourage our children to do the same.

Though the work may seem small, it is not so, for we are entrusted with the care of eternal souls. Whether you find yourself here unexpectedly or on purpose, and whether you really like the work or you really don’t, I encourage you to live in this present moment that touches eternity. May we be faithful in these not-so-little things.

Questions

In Captivity until Such a Time as This: What I learned from Joseph’s Story

Joseph was a slave and in prison for a total of 13 years until the right moment when God would use circumstance, location, and timing to elevate Joseph to being the Egyptian King’s primary assistant. It took being sold, bought, and imprisoned to place Joseph in the right place at the right time. God did not remove Joseph from his difficulties, but was instead withJoseph in the midst of them. I doubt God’s presence made Joseph any more enthusiastic about his doleful circumstances, but it did create opportunities for Joseph to trust God more and it gave purpose to Joseph’s trials.

Sometimes I feel imprisoned. My motherhood and homemaker responsibilities often leave me exhausted both physically and mentally, and culminate in me not sleeping well at night, which further exacerbates the exhaustion issue. Any breaks or nap times are filled with making dinner, laundry, and cleaning the house. Children need and I give all day long. My time is not ever my own and I feel defined by what I do rather than who I am or desire to be.

All this is not bad. It is, simply, my life at this stage. Many times beautiful moments pop-up in the middle of the mundane like tulips from the snow. Watching my eldest son hold hands with his younger sister and witnessing the dancing delight of my second’s eyes as he makes his little brother laugh are priceless treasures. Teaching moments abound and I rejoice that I get to be there with my kids. I get questions about anything from “Why is a truck not a motorcycle?” and “Do we get to keep our baby brother?” to “What makes lightening?” and “Where do we put used tea bags?”

Despite such wondrous moments, I feel my dreams eliminated by the very beings that I love and would give everything to nurture. I hear Chesterton’s rebuke in the back of my mind (paraphrased), “Why should I want to be something to everybody when I can be everything to these four somebodies?” I do not have an answer. Something inside me dreams so big to do things outside the home even as it just as stubbornly persists in not granting the primary care of my children to anyone besides my husband and myself. And so, I sometimes feel imprisoned by the very good life that God has given me.

When I read about Joseph, I realize that God has a plan for the perceived prison of my present. He has a plan now, and He will have a plan for me when the all-consuming purpose of my present diminishes to the past. Will I trust Him with that future state, to put me in the right place at the right time in the right circumstances to, perhaps not be the right-hand assistant to the president, but to do something else pretty cool? It is a question and challenge that I must ask myself everyday.