I remember being a teenager, sitting in youth group, listening to a sermon about “God’s call on your life”. I remember being in a relationship with my boyfriend (now husband), and knowing that he was called into youth ministry. It was clear to him- “youth and nations” were the words he heard while seeking God’s direction. I remember being at that altar asking God what MY calling was, and I believe I heard a still small voice tell me that my full-time job would be supporting this upcoming ministry. We ran with it.
I assumed that this whisper meant I would not have to be working at another job, and I was disappointed when we began our journey as youth pastors and couldn’t afford for me to stay home. By the time our first ministry job started our daughter was six months old and I wanted so desperately to stay home with her. Unfortunately that isn’t how things worked out. I worked a miserable 40+ hours/ week at a bank, we had another baby, we moved back to our home town, and I gave up on my dream of staying home with the kids. I stopped believing it would ever be possible.
Then God opened a new door: Move to Georgia.
What? Excuse me? You want us to do WHAT???
We were both nervous and excited as this new door into a full-time youth pastor position in Southwest Georgia would take us away from our family, but allow me to leave the bank and stay home with our two and four year old. We spent a lot of time in prayer, asking God if this is really what He wanted from us. After months of praying we received confirmation and this was really what God had in store for us. So we quit our jobs, packed up our home, broke our lease and drove nearly 900 miles away to start a new chapter.
“My house will always be perfectly clean” “We will stick to our budget” “We will do AB&C”… All. These. Things. I had this fantasy in my head, years of imagining what life would be like staying at home with my gorgeous babies. I finally got what I had been searching for, my deepest desire handed to me on a (rose) gold platter. And I felt like I was failing. F A I L I N G.
How? How could this be? How could I possibly have a sink full of dishes again after I just washed them? How do I have so much laundry needing to be folded and put away? Why are there granola chunks in my rug after I just vacuumed? Why am I sitting on the couch watching power rangers again feeling like I don’t know what to do with my life? Why is the psych student in me putting pieces of a dysfunctional puzzle together that sounds like I might be slipping into some sort of depression? Was there nothing more to my life than cleaning up play-doh, cleaning the dishes, doing the laundry, buying groceries and showing up for church?
These thoughts and feelings were so strong that they pushed away all the truth I knew. They outweighed the smiles on my kids faces when we were playing, or when I made their favorite snack/ meal. These thoughts of “not knowing what to do with myself” were so much louder than the biblical truth I’d studied for years. And I’m going to tell you why:
For years I held on to an idea, and I held onto it with tunnel vision. I never took time to discover anything else about myself. So here I am, 24 years old, and the only things I really know about myself are what I enjoyed when I was 15/16. I have been studying the Bible and planning youth events and praying for my husband and children, and I have spent zero time learning about myself. I know that as a teenager I loved art, but I never kept it up because I let being a newly wed and a new mother consume me. I know I enjoyed gymnastics, but after having kids I never went to the gym. I know I used to use writing as an outlet and I could spend hours watching HGTV, but do I still like these things? Could I sit on my back porch and draw a charcoal sketch of the Pine tree line in my back yard? Could I pry myself away guilt free and spend an hour in a gym taking my frustrations out on the spring board? If I sat down to write would I know what to say? If I knew what to say would I feel guilty for saying it? I always thought it would be as simple as staying with them, and maybe it would be simpler if I hadn’t ignored myself for years.
The truth is, I am blessed. I am fortunate enough to have caught myself slipping into unsafe and dark territories. I am blessed to have friends who are understanding and encouraging, to have a husband who felt broken with me when I shared my heart to him, to have kids who tell me I am beautiful and funny. I am blessed to have an opportunity to stay home with my kids, and now I have the challenge of finding myself while raising them. I will have to remind myself daily the promises God has given me, and I will have to manually shut out the dark paralyzing thoughts that try to take over my mind. I will have to tell myself to be productive even when I want to curl up and hide. I will have to take “ME-TIME” even when guilt tries to tell me not to. I will have to accept that sometimes the dishes won’t get done because I’m playing ninja-turtles, and sometimes I have to stop watching Fixer Upper and put my laundry away. I have to find balance.
For anyone who has had these struggles, who have had fights about the messes, who have felt guilty for your feelings: You are not lazy. You are not alone. You are not a bad mom. You are enough. You are worth learning about. You are worth taking care of. So I encourage you to do something for YOU today. I’m going to do my workout behind the couch while the kids watch Netflix, and maybe later this week I’ll dig out my sketch pad and see if I still enjoy drawing. I hope you find yourself.
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
Luke 12:6-7 NASB
The Noble Life