Every once in a while I catch myself uttering something to my children so incredibly profound, I’m astounded that it came from my own mouth. Sometimes I think God is working through our children to impart lessons and messages meant for us. That happened last week, and although there are at least 5 other posts I had been wanting to write to share here, I felt compelled to share this instead.
We were preparing to set out on a long trip across the state to visit family. As usual, I was standing at the sink washing up the last of the dishes as Nate and the boys loaded the vehicle. For those of you who don’t know my husband, he is a very practical and methodical person; squeezing our luggage into the back of the Suburban and making the best use of the space is a task he not only excels at but also relishes. I’m not kidding. It’s like the man gets some sort of a high from the Tetris-like challenge of making the most efficient use of our storage space.
While Nate loads, the boys run in and out of the house, bringing him the various items he asks for (because, just like a well-played game of Tetris, loading requires very specifically-shaped items placed perfectly in the right spot, at the right time). This is our pre-travel ritual, and all of the guys seem to really enjoy their roles.
As I was draining the sink, my tender-hearted middle child came sulking into the house. “Daddy won’t let me carry out the big cooler, but that’s the one I want to take.” Nate walked in after him explaining that it was too big for him to carry, but that it would be really helpful if he grabbed the pillows instead. Barrett was unconvinced and began to cry.
“We don’t always get to help in the ways we planned to, Shorty,” I explained. “Sometimes we’re asked to do something we would rather not do or something we didn’t expect. It doesn’t mean it’s not just as important.” “Even doing something small helps,” Nate added.
As the words tumbled from my mouth, I paused and stared down at the empty sink where the last of the suds lingered with soggy toast crumbs. I knew that message, although entirely applicable and important for my 4-year-old to hear, was meant for me.
Anyone who has known me for longer than 5 minutes knows that I’m a restless soul. I make light of it and blame it on my “gypsy” blood, but the truth is, I’m always trying new things and walking new paths because I’ve always been in search of my purpose. I’ve spent so much time in prayer asking God to guide me, and to help me serve to my fullest capacity.
That wisdom I spoke to my son, it was meant for me to hear. How many times has God placed a task in front of me, only to have me push it to the side in pursuit of something I deemed “greater?” Perhaps this why I’ve spent the better part of 31 years feeling so restless and unsettled. The truth is, I’m not saving the world. I’m just a busy, flustered, working mom who sometimes cusses and almost always forgets to switch the laundry before going to bed. Why, then, am I wrestling with the opportunities God puts in front of me? Why am I clenching my fists around my abstract ideals like a 4-year-old, demanding my own way?
Perhaps rather than praying for answers, I should be praying for the ability to make peace with the work God has called me to do, and the grace to carry out my duties to the fullest of my ability.