As I tucked my precious, yet cranky, teething five month old boy in for his nap, he looked up at me – appalled – and began sobbing harder. His heart was breaking as he seemed to inaudibly say, “how could you have guessed so poorly what I want most right now?” What he couldn’t see was that I had a warm bottle with just a couple of ounces of milk in it ready to soothe him right to sleep. And so I quickly responded, “Buddy, you don’t know the rest of my plan.” Immediately my heart was convicted by my own words.
How often have I doubted the Lord, crying over the circumstances of the moment rather than trusting my Lord who loves me infinitely more than I could ever imagine?
You see, the transition to full-time mommying has been difficult – and it was not a difficulty that I hadn’t anticipated. Prior to this job, I worked outside of the home as a full-time English teacher. My most recent job was at a local school that I love where I actively engaged minds in the study of British literature, American literature, Speech, and AP Lit and Lang over the course of my brief two years there. My conversations were stimulating, and deep analysis of literature and language was daily a part of my work. It was fast-paced, emotional, and exhausting. Best of all, I felt needed by many people on a daily basis.
I could use many of the same adjectives to describe my current role as a momma. It can oftentimes feel fast-paced (I’m sure increasingly so with each additional child). And it’s always emotional and exhausting. But I’ve traded my well-fit dress pants for yoga pants. I’ve traded my red pen for a burp cloth. I’ve traded my stimulating conversations for babble. But most of all, I’ve traded the feeling of being needed by many to being needed by only one (okay two – if you count my husband ;).
Can I just confess something to you now? I was afraid to become a stay-at-home mom. I thrive on relationships with others – oftentimes too much. And I knew that I’d be giving up that constant, effortless community that I had so loved in my full time job outside of the home. My sense of identity was shaken up, and I knew that this jump would force me to see myself for who I really am at my core. It would cause my life to slow down so that I would have to deal with some of my sin issues rather than burying them in busy-ness. It would force me to rest in Jesus and what He has said about me rather than the accolades of man. And while I desperately wanted (and still do) to be a stay-at-home mom, having been immensely blessed by my own mom growing up, I was afraid. The circumstances seemed to have me laying in my crib looking up at the Lord and crying. How could he have created me with this longing to be at home but this insatiable desire to be in relationship?
It was at this juncture that I decided to dig in and learn what it is to be a mom – what it is to offer of myself on a daily basis for no accolades or praise but because it daily invests in the life of my son. To learn what it is to give up my needs or desires to think of someone else above me.
In this quest, I came across Sally Clarkson’s The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity. I’ve been devouring this book, page after page. I love her story because she gets me: she used to be the independent, adventurous young woman that I once considered myself to be. Her chapters tell me I’m not alone. And through her experience and failures, she shares authentically what she’s learned about creating a different adventure: a mission field at home.
…it’s the way I respond to my children in everyday moments that gives me the best chance of winning their hearts. If I have integrity and patience in the small moments of life that are so important to my children, and if I approach them with a servant’s heart, then I have a far better chance of influencing them in the larger and more critical issues of life.
Her words have taught me that what I do now matters very much. I am learning that there is something really empowering about doing the right thing – giving my best – even when no one is watching to give me an award. And I’m learning to enjoy that intimacy with Christ that oftentimes only He and I know how I’ve sacrificed of myself that day. Galatians 6:8-9 reminds us that living by the Spirit will reap for us eternal life and that not growing weary in doing good will bring that gift. I have a double sense of responsibility because I want to do good and follow the Lord for my own victory, but I equally want my children to have a leg up in choosing victory in Jesus in their lives as well.
So I’m finding now that there is joy in the sacrifice. Life looks different, but I finally feel as if I’m not the baby crying in the crib unaware of how God will continue to create goodness out of each small phase of my life. He is working, and His plans are always good. Therefore, I can joyfully show up each day knowing that He’s always beside me to encourage me through my day.
Philippians 1:6 reminds us that God will “bring [the good work he began in us] to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, I can rejoice that I get to partake in the small daily choices that add up to that completion. I get to choose joy daily for me and see that trickle to my children. And when things change again, and I can’t understand how God could have possibly misidentified what I want or feel I need most in life, I can trust that He’s working. His plan is good. I don’t always see the full picture of His goodness, but regardless – it’s always true. He’s always good. He’s always working. The work isn’t finished. Therefore, there is no reason to despair. After all, it’s the great unknown to me, but I have intimate relationship with the one who sees all as the great known.