I’m emotionally exhausted. I’m feeling all the feels. Part of me wants to Netflix binge and the other part just wants to spend the day in bed. I can’t blame in on depression and it’s not PMS. God is changing my heart, burdening it with things I’ve never even given much thought to before, and it’s uncomfortable.
I’ve spent many years in the “comfort zone” wanting a simple life with dreams I’ve had for nearly a decade. You know the Southern American dream – a cozy country farmhouse in the middle of nowhere with lots of land and a swimming pool. I didn’t want to be “rich”, just make a little more now so we could be the entertaining house, a place where people could come and socialize. We wanted to be “that house” – the one where the kids would always linger and play around. I’d decorate for the different seasons and would keep a warm and welcoming, clean home. Laughter would fill the air and children would play outside just doing what kids do. I would be “that mom” whose home was always open for play-dates, who’d whip up some homemade baked goods “in a jiffy”, and who would have extra towels on hand for the pools because no one ever remembers those. We’d have last minute dinner parties, have small group in our home every week, and host other events for the church and community. I’d taxi Autumn around to extracurricular activities, take her to school and pick her up, and would always have goodies for the holidays at school, and I would never be one of those moms who constantly forgot to turn in the forms or send money for fundraisers.
As you can probably guess, “living the dream” didn’t last long. It turns out, I am “that mom” – the one who forgets things, who forgets to full out picture day forms, who forgets to pack a jacket, who basically is a mess. I constantly remind myself that my kid knows I love her and that’s the most important thing, but “mommy guilt” is real and constantly haunts me, telling me “I’m not enough” and that “I can do better”. I’m not crafty, it feels like our home is constantly a wreck instead of cozy, and we eat out way too much, so “homemade treats” are rare as is a nice home-cooked meal.
And then there’s the kid situation. I constantly get asked when we’re going to have another baby. As terrible as it sounds, I have zero desire to have another kid, and my husband feels the same way. I am not a kid person. I’ve never really been a kid person. I love mine, and it’s not that I don’t love others, but that is not my area of passion. It’s not something strong to my heart, and I know another kid isn’t what our family needs. If/when the time comes for us to have another, if God presses on my heart for us to have another child, I will joyfully submit. The “mommy guilt” is strong in this area too, and sure, I wonder if I’m failing and scarring Autumn leaving her as an only child. I always thought we would have a few kids. But that is not our situation, and another self-expectation I had for myself didn’t come true.
Autumn’s 3rd birthday was last weekend and I got a big reality check about this whole thing last week. I was scrambling at the last minute – go figure – to find cutesy stuff for her party. I had all these little DIY things I wanted to put together, and couldn’t find anything I needed in town. ANYTHING. Worst of all, I couldn’t even find a cake topper to match the theme of the party. Autumn has talked about this party for MONTHS and it was quickly turning into a disaster. I was stressed and defeated. My husband at one point said, “I don’t know why you keep trying so hard. You are not ‘that mom’, you are not [insert person who he thinks I’ve been trying to be like]. Autumn is going to love her party either way because all of her little friends and people she love will be there.” I quickly responded that I was not trying to be this person; I just wanted Autumn’s party to be special. And while it was true that I wasn’t trying to be any particular person, I was still trying to achieve the expectations I’ve had for myself for years.
In my husband’s words was truth. I needed to let go of the image I’ve had for myself. While I’ve come a long way in this area – I recognize I’m not going to be the ‘class mom’ or Betty Crocker – I still am holding on in a few areas and that has been keeping me from embracing the woman that I am – the woman God has created me to be, who is unique and beautiful, flaws and all.
So why all of these thoughts and feelings now? What difference does it all make? God has given me a burden, one that grows stronger and stronger every day. That burden is within an area of passion of mine that has been on my heart for years now. The difference with it is that this burden/passion is God-given, NOT self-given. See, when God gives you a desire, that desire lasts. It’s not fleeting and it’s not something that is unachievable. He gives you everything you need to achieve your desires, to find a solution for that burden, to move you into action.
Those above dreams were never really my dreams but were instead a product of my surroundings. Sure they were things I wanted and in some aspects I still do want those things. But they’re not my passion. I don’t get excited about them. It doesn’t light a fire in me that I just have to fulfill those things, and my heart doesn’t break when I consider not having those things. Those dreams were selfish, and they went along with me trying to make a name for myself.
God has already given me a name. He has great plans for me, and when I submit to Him and His plans, amazing things can happen – things I could never even imagine, or even think to ever ask Him for. When you open yourself up to Him, and submit yourself fully to Him, that’s when you truly begin to experience abundant life. Your old ways, your old dreams, your old expectations begin to slowly fade away and they get replaced with new dreams, new passions, new desires, and ultimately, new life.
As uncomfortable as it may be now, I would rather live this life, a life of purpose for God, than to live the “American dream” that I only thought I wanted. Leaving the comfortable for the unfamiliar, sacrificing all I have, to experience the adventure of a lifetime is worth it. Because our salvation was meant for oh so much more. Because I want to further God’s Kingdom on earth. Because if I can touch just one person with the Gospel and help lead them into a relationship with Christ, I’ll know I have done God’s work. Because if I can help one woman learn to study the Word for herself, my life was not lived in vain. Because if bringing shelter to someone helps them to see Jesus is real and they commit their life to Him, Heaven will rejoice. All this, because Jesus is worth it.
So let the discomfort come. Let the tears roll as my heart longs for the people God leads me to serve. Let my heart become more and more open so that I can love others well. Let me show Jesus to everyone around me as I walk through this life. No matter the cost. Because Jesus, YOU are worth it.