I have a hard time with being a mom… sometimes. I know, I know. It is my “calling.” My identity is supposed to be wrapped up in the little onesies and board books and toy dinosaurs. But it isn’t. Don’t misunderstand me! I love my children and I love being a mother, but sometimes my perspective gets skewed by the daily grind of folding clothes and washing dishes. I take my eyes off of the eternal perspective for one minute and I am blinded by the miniscule stuff that I am wading knee deep through.
My heart longs to visit other lands with my camera in hand and capture exotic places. My arms desire to hold little sick babies abandoned at the hospital and know that I am helping. I ache for the adventure of visiting a never before reached tribe on a remote island and trying to assist the translators in understanding the complicities of this foreign language. Instead, I am stuck in a house in suburbia telling my 2 year old for the up-teenth time today that it is not wise to hurl his remote control car off the coffee table at his 18 month old sister. How is that a calling? Does anyone else see it, because these sinful eyes are blinded by the mundane?
I might be alone in this struggle, but I have a feeling there are others of you out there. Oh, how I hope there are more of you out there like me: sinful and in need of God’s grace! It feels wrong to say these things out loud. In a culture that doesn’t value children and values stay-at-home mothers less, it is easy to buy into the notion that my life is meaningless without another job, another calling, another thing that takes center stage. Whenever I read biographies about famous missionaries, I think, “What kind of impact am I having on the world around me when I can’t even make it to the grocery store without a meltdown?”
I guess I should back up a little bit to give this some background, hmm?
My whole life I wanted to be these 3 things (in no particular order): a missionary, a photographer and an actress. I have successfully accomplished the last two, but I can’t figure out how the first dream can be accomplished with a 2 and 1 year old in tow. In college, my major was in missions, with hopes of fulfilling my first dream. That is what I studied to be, a full time missionary. Four years of preparing to impact the world through face-to-face interactions with those who didn’t have the privilege of purchasing a Bible at their local bookstore like I do. After college, I pursued acting professionally and had a couple of paid acting jobs, fulfilling that dream. Then my husband and I applied to be house parents for missionary children in Cameroon, Africa with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Then we got pregnant with our first and decided to stay in the states to have our first child. And you guessed it; we got pregnant again and have never left, but I did become a professional photographer, making that dream come true. I am happy with my life, but this little gnawing discontentment creeps up at times: the discontentment to see tangible ministry happening before my eyes.
Now you are caught up on my life, somewhat, so let’s continue on (can you tell I’m not a writer?)!
It all hit me tonight. I was listening to a Francis Chan sermon about rethinking what we call “radical.” A lot of things touched my heart as I listened, but what struck me the most was Francis’ strong desire to reach the poor. It reminded me of a desire I use to have before the monotony of changing 18 dirty diapers a day and picking up countless toys off the living room floor wore
away my passion. I started to feel confused and disgruntled, almost as if my children were a nascence in comparison to helping the poor (I know that isn’t a rational thought, but our air conditioning has been out for 2 days, so I need a little grace!).
The Lord is so good, because the next article (Motherhood is a Calling) I read said this:
“Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.”
Did that just say I am living out the gospel by being a mom? That my children are my calling? My eyes filled with tears as I read those words. Wiping snot off my 18 month olds face can be a ministry, be it small. It blesses the heart of God to see me teach my children godly principles through living them daily. My mission field, for now, is on the floor in my living room day in and day out. It is my job to defend my innocent children in a corrupt world. I am called to cloth and feed the needy, and they can be found right in my dining room! This doesn’t excuse me from doing my part to be outward focused and help in the world around me, but all of this thinking helped me to gain some perspective about my discontentment.
There might never be a novel written about my missionary journeys into hostile lands, but for now, my work for the Lord is being the best mom I can be, with what I have, by His grace. I won’t be successful all the time, but I am going to plug at it one moment at a time until the Lord sees that I can handle something else. From this perspective of the frazzled mom, I hope they Lord knows I have my plate full! Hehehe!
“Lord, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.
Have you ever had an experience like Karissa's? Feel free to share about it in the comments.