I truly hope that by the time you are capable of reading this, that this post will be old news. But I have an aching feeling that this could be something I wrestle with for years to come, so I’m going to ask you now to just bear with me. Your dad already knows – he’s been through it all with me again and again, it seems like a million times through.
Ann Voskamp once said,
“If the mission is worthy, exhaust yourself in it.”
I don’t know what to make of that simple sentence. For a while, I loved it – thought it was the best thing I’d read in years. Then I hated it because of what it really meant in my life…because I took it to an extreme and I was foolish. I still think this statement is a powerful concept, but let me tell you about how it has tested me.
I thrive on activity, I need a to-do list, I love the thrill of accomplishment and I don’t know how to rest. Some of this is in the way God wired me and I want to use that, respect it, work with it. But some of it is really my own sinful, prideful, stubborn perfectionism and addiction to productivity. (I wonder sometimes how you will turn out, how you will be “wired”…)
Here’s where you come in…
Just 17 short months ago, I was this same person, but with much less internal discord. I simply said yes to everything, invested myself in too much, worked until the wee hours of the morning, often neglected the people I love, and overdid everything, every time…and no one bothered me about it. Occasionally your Dad would question whether or not this lifestyle was healthy, but we both chalked it up to me being a “night owl” (which I am).
You threw a baby sized wrench into my plans to continue appeasing my own ambition. But more importantly, you made me really question for the first time: WHY do I do what I do?
When I spend the majority of my hours every day taking care of you (talk about a new definition of “productive”), I do it because I’m thankful God gave you to us, because I love you and because I enjoy it! But when I had to truthfully answer that same question about so many of the other things I busy myself with on a daily basis, my answers were less than satisfying.
I do this because I feel obligated. I do that because it makes me feel good about myself. I said yes because I am physically capable of doing it (never a good reason, in itself, to do anything). I committed myself to that because if I don’t fill my time with it, I will just fill it with some other duty. Or, the best (and by “best” I mean most laughable) reason: I have to do it because no one else will do it as well as I will.
Being a mom has made me, for the first time, have to get serious about my priorities and think differently about my time. It has not been easy (changing never is), but I truly do want to give you my best. Not to mention that your Dad deserves more than my best and has been putting up with the busy, stressed out, overworked version of me for too many years now. This is not how I want to live.
Promise me that if you’re reading this someday and you think to yourself, “wow, mom, you still haven’t changed,” that you’ll drop whatever you’re doing and talk to me. Remind me that at one point, God used an adorable little man (you!) to convict me of this and that it might be worth praying about again.
I NEVER want to be too busy for you. That doesn’t mean that you can have all of my attention all of the time, but it does mean that I have to redefine what it means to exhaust myself in a mission. What mission am I on? Motherhood has done wonders for my perspective…now it’s just a matter of allowing God to break me.
A New Meaning for the Phrase
My mission is to love and honor God and to be faithful to his calling on my life. He has blessed me with you and I am eternally grateful for that! The good news is that I don’t have to go out of my way to exhaust myself with the duties of motherhood…that’s sort of just built into the job description.
I still have a vision of a productive life being one where I lay my head down at night and rest in knowing that I did all I could that day to serve my family and the people God has put in my life. Now the challenge is actually laying my head down at night. I still want so badly to do so many things. Now the challenge is saying “no” to most of those things so I can say “yes” to few and so I can spend more, undistracted time with you and Daddy.
I still want to ensure that I am never lazy (seems like the ultimate sin to me) and that I always earn my rest. But like I said, you do a pretty good job of making sure that is no problem at all! 😉
I love you, little buddy. You will never know or remember how much you’ve changed me in just your first year of life. I’d love to say it’s all been easy and wonderful, but some of it has been seriously painful. My prayer now is that as we learn and grow, that your Dad and I will be able show you what it looks like to live a healthy life, characterized by love for God, a balanced set of priorities, an outward focus… and most of all: a heart (and TIME) for people.
We’ll probably fail a million times in the process, but that’s ok. We want to do a great job raising you and leading by example, but we’re not fooling ourselves. We know that we’re not your ultimate example anyway.
Jesus lived a productive human life as a carpenter, honored his Father’s will, and prioritized time with the people in his life, genuinely loving everyone from the blind man on the side of the road to the disciples who were his best friends in life. Please follow that example first!