Happy new year, friends and family! I’ve been pondering for quite a while now what you’re about to read. Frankly, it’s about time I penned it down. It all began to come together for me as I visited with a friend of mine last month. A fellow mother, she shared with me how God had been showing her that motherhood is about more than her personal fulfillment. I froze. I was stunned because I fully recognized what she was on about! I saw it not just as an aspect of motherhood, but of life! Let me explain.
To be honest, much of our generation and the current zeitgeist is about doing what makes you happy now. We are even encouraged to toss out items in our homes that when we look at, don’t bring us joy. As such, all our decisions are geared towards both the temporal as well as our feelings. If I feel happy about this, it must be the best decision. If I’m feeling fulfilled right now, then this action I’m doing must be the wisest one long-term. Right?? Wrong! The truth is that oftentimes, the more painful or gruesome acts, choices, relationship moments etc. that we must endure lend to the best future outcomes. Working through the rough moments ends up building character in us, and character-building, believe it or not, takes time. Which is all something our popcorn-and-microwave generation doesn’t seem to have. Or at the very least doesn’t have the patience for. We want it, and we want it now.
The thing is, many have taken that approach to various aspects of life. And yes, even parenting. When we think of having kids, ughh, the work. That’s at the very least all that our culture throws at us. Think of all the memes you see that have to do with babies or little children. Think of all the jokes you know of to do with these same little people. Think of the parents you know and what they tend to say about their kids. I could even apply this question to my own self! How much of it all highlights what blessings children are, not just for the present but the future too? What is the percentage of memes that speak to them being a burden, being ridiculous, demanding, etc. versus them bringing joy to one’s home, renewed perspective? I’ll be honest. My experience has been the former. It’s no wonder some of my friends and acquaintances over the years swore off having kids, or, for those who eventually came around, they refused to have more than one. Some people I know said they’d rather have dogs! Right. So, with all that culture/the media seems to say about children, why are people still procreating? Why are men and women still trying to have babies? Why all that excitement about having the gender reveal parties and baby showers? These are for real questions. It must be that those men and women decided that…there is something more glorious about having and raising children than the momentary lack of sleep, occasional childhood antics, teenage attitudes, and so on. Those people were looking to the future and willing to do all necessary to get there. (All that beside the fact that even in the present, there is SO much joy and laughter that children bring to one’s daily life, it’s not even a joke. Lol!).
But, you get what I mean. When my friend therefore shared that epiphany she’d had, I thought: of course! It all explained why on certain days in my parenting journey I would have a bad attitude. When I’d go through a whole day of the routines (and believe me, the “routine-ness” of parenting can get tedious), by the end of it I’d wonder what exactly I’d accomplished that day. Believe me, in the trenches, it can be hard to see clearly. When I couldn’t point to one thing that was wham-bam-amazing, I would feel low. Losing perspective, a part of me would already start dreading the next day, when I would awaken only to do it all over again. Yipee. But! But, what if I came to understand that my mothering is about more than my immediate personal fulfilment? Why, I’d be good to go! It makes total sense. I need to keep my eyes on the goal. Parenting is not like being in the office, when by day’s end, you look at your planner or Post-it and are able to actually feel great because you knocked off so and so. No, there wasn’t a major project completed. No, I didn’t knock out that presentation. No, I didn’t successfully run that meeting or hold that event. No. But this, this is bigger. The shaping of souls is bigger, requires way more of a time commitment, and has a lasting eternal value!
What should I then invest my time in? My culture or generation’s definition of success might have to do with that personal fulfillment, but that’s not how God views it. He Himself doesn’t operate that way. The ultimate Parent, He takes His time with us, creating scenarios in our lives that challenge us, grow us, and cause us to learn well what it means to love. In turn, as we turn our eyes to the ones we’ve been put to care for and love on – not just as parents but as siblings, friends, volunteers, coworkers, grandchildren, and so on – we will find that although we don’t come out feeling oh-so-amazing, God is usually accomplishing way more in those moments than our personal fulfillment. Not only that, being the God He is (read: the most awesome chess player there ever was), He’s usually working multidimensionally, changing aspects about our character that we don’t even know need changing, and changing them when we don’t even know we are being changed. Magic! Lol. Pretty awesome to me.
So, my encouragement to you this year is this: have the right focus. Don’t stress too much on grabbing happiness for yourself, and at all costs. Just love and love hard. Let that be your 2020 vision. To love well. When that is your focus, He will watch your back. Love attracts more love. The more you pour out to people, the same will be poured out to you. Some call that karma. I would say it’s a universal principle that God has set in motion here, kind of like the law of gravity. I know you respect that law. Try respecting the law of love this year and watch how things unfold for you.
Well, at least that’s my new year’s resolution. I’m off to practice it! Looking forward to growing with you. ♥♥