The things that swirl around in my head. Some make it here, but these days most never do. There just isn’t time. Or they just don’t seem that important. Or maybe I lose clarity between thoughts and words. But this one thing is real. It’s been a struggle. Maybe you’re with me. Maybe you’re not. Maybe you know someone who is.
As my friends, far and near, post awesome pictures of fun activities, vacations, and even their daily happenings, it causes me to view my world differently. It’s not that I’m mad or sad or jealous (well, maybe that creeps in a little sometimes – ha), but it skews my view.
It reminds me of how different my life is now. How different it is from what I’d planned as a young adult. Before I knew the truth.
While others are deciding which movie to watch, where they will go out to eat, whether they will drive or fly to their vacay destination, my decisions look a little different.
Do we really need groceries today?
Is it worth leaving home at 5 a.m. to buy groceries alone?
Will I wash darks or whites?
Will it be a two or ten-load day?
Will I have time to get that clean laundry off the table?
Do I bother putting pants on the toddler?
How much can I get done before they all wake up?
Where’s my weekly menu?
Did I make a menu?
Frozen chicken strips or fish sticks?
Does the sprinkler or pool constitute a bath?
Can the return phone calls wait till nap time?
Do I hide the tape here or there? (yeah, you know it!)
What’s the best educational screen time option?
And when I compare these seemingly less-than-earth-shattering decisions to others, it does something to me. Something I don’t like. It makes me feel less than. Under-qualified. Isolated. Different.
After all, the majority of moms my age are free to meet for lunch, have meaningful conversation, read a good book (oh, I do miss that!), have a flower garden, or plan a day trip. They certainly aren’t making bottles, cutting up food, wiping bottoms, packing a diaper bag, trying to squeeze in a play date or warning their big kids’ friends about the crowd that is their family.
This was such a struggle for me…until I realized I was seeing it all wrong. It’s not right for me to compare. This is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing right now. It’s even what I’ve wanted to do ever since my eyes were opened to the truth.
I’ve never considered myself the mom that is all that, nor did I need to be. There was that one time when I had three kids and took them to that fast food joint with the play area and the giant clown, and the two-year-old slipped on the wet floor, running his teeth through his lip, while the one-year-old sat in the high chair and the nine-year-old tried to enjoy his meal. It took two of us to gather them up and get to the ER. It’s not like I’m qualified to parent a dozen kids! I could write a book on my parenting failures…but that wouldn’t be the right thing to do.
Because 14 years ago I was changed. In 2001 the King of Kings captured my heart and brought me to repentance, forever changing my heart, continually drawing me to Himself and giving me the Power to see the world differently… and to seek different things.
In 2003, when I was still weaning off of spiritual milk, my eyes were opened to a horrible truth I couldn’t ignore or wish away. The truth that, although I thought my family was complete and although I wasn’t in the running for Mother of the Year, there are children all over the world who have nothing. They lack everything. Family. Food. Shelter. Clean water. Clothing. HOPE.
And since I had fully surrendered my heart and my life, giving up my right to all that is solely for myself (which is a daily battle), I knew that armed with the knowledge that there are children who need a family, I could not sit idly by, simply wishing them well.
See, I can’t know the right thing to do and choose to NOT do the right thing. My eyes were opened, my heart was fresh, and my hands were ready. I asked for this. I said yes to this. This.is.what.I.signed.up.for. This doesn’t make me a better mom or a more holy follower. It makes me full. And content. And joyful. And different.
See, I get it now. When the Lord plucks us out of the miry pit, He doesn’t intend for us to keep going back to wallow in it! He doesn’t intend for us to live it in drudgery, and He doesn’t intend for each of our journeys to look the same. In fact, they should look different! Not only different from before our eyes were opened, but different from one another.
We are thriving in joy in different ways, but all for one Kingdom.
So my life looks different from other moms my age. Maybe yours does too? I would come to grips with it one moment and love it, and the next I would find myself clawing my way back to the pit. Living in the pit is not fair to my family, this big, beautiful family the Lord has entrusted to me. My mood was somber, my tone was harsh, my words weren’t always life-giving. I can’t pinpoint the moment that my self-seeking, pitiful first-world-tainted vision became clear, but when it did, it changed everything!
The Lord broke my heart and gave me a dream bigger than myself. He has been faithful to keep His promises, but what am I doing with them? He has blessed me with three children from a once feared barren womb and has plucked nine from impoverished circumstances, entrusting each to my care. He has entrusted me to love, nurture, discipline and shape them. Without Him it is an impossible task, but with Him it is a privilege. It is not okay for me to simply give them better than they had; it is right for me to give them the best that I have.
I had to look far beyond myself to realize it. I had to go back to the beginning, 14 years ago, to understand where I am today.
Maybe you’re with me, struggling to find the joy in the daily-ness that is your life. Or maybe your struggle is that you know your life should look different, but.it.just.doesn’t. I’m not talking about adoption; I’m talking about surrender.
I’m not pointing fingers at you for taking a vacation or shopping for fun. I may even live vicariously through you! I will stop comparing our lives. I will continue to search my own heart to discover whether I’ve given my all and I’m basking in the joy of a life that looks different.