My study break is beginning to wind down. It has been an interesting two weeks - three, if you count our vacation, which kicked off this short season for me.
I started this time - even the vacation - so wound up and stressed that it was barely possible to hope for rescue. Frankly, I was having serious thoughts about leaving my job. Struggling with doubt as to my purpose - not just in my career path, but in the larger context of what I believed, and why, and was it worth it. Was it even true?
I wondered, quite seriously, if I was depressed. It runs in the family. It is not beyond possibility.
I wrote pages in my journal about joy - specifically, about my lack thereof.
I looked practically at my schedule, my responsibilities. I have been purposeful in seeking a new way to do what I must do on a daily basis; I've come to believe that it's not that there is too much, it is that I am unable to process and then respond to everything that comes across my path. I've tentatively and gingerly put into place a process of managing information and energy that I'm convinced will work. It's worked these two weeks, anyway; the key is to maintain priority and the discipline to filter what's in my head to the appropriate place, and then have room to breathe. And be creative.
Which makes me happy.
(I'll write more on this process later, when I have a longer track record and can testify to its worth with confidence.)
I have played the piano, and although it took about 10 days to get there, I am now sitting down and playing for fun. With joy. For me, that means Scarlatti and Mozart, along with a little Miles Davis and George Gershwin. Spontaneous songs of praise and worship.
I have walked and stretched muscles that haven't seen the light of day in a while. I have enjoyed my children.
In many respects, I have re-captured the essence of who I was for about 10 years - a mom, first and foremost, with a part-time job. For thirteen years, that's what I did and who I was - part-time employment, full-time mom.
Even on this break, I am well-aware of my responsibilities to my workplace. They are ever churning in me, and part of the work I have done daily is directed towards the future. Plans, ideas, staffing, etc....it's all in there (at the appropriate times). But my priority for these three weeks has been home and the kids and my relationship with my Creator.
If there's anything I do that feels like a mandate from God, that's it. I am the only mother my children have. They have a terrific, godly step-mother, and I am thankful for her influence - but I am the mother of my children. No one else can play that role in their lives.
And that's what I am contemplating today, as I look towards the slow crawl up and out of my study break. Designed to help me refresh, refocus, refuel, I have arrived at this new/old discovery of who I am and what is my purpose.
I am a mom.
This role feels much different than it did a few years ago, or 15 years ago. It's more complicated. I remember the days of having four kids under the age of five, two of them in diapers, and people saying, "Oh, treasure these days! These are the EASY days!" If you said that to me, I want to tell you: I thought you were insane.
But guess what? They were right. These days, being a mom is unbelievably complicated. The skill set required is a lot harder than providing food, keeping them bathed and clothed, settling quarrels and driving them places. It is complex, often a mine field of split second decisions about when and how to react, when to speak, when to listen, when to push, when to let go.
I am a mom.
I must confess; I began to write this post with a different ending in mind, one that would quote the words I read this morning in the Book of Common Prayer, one that would begin to tie together the loose ends of understanding and wisdom that have come during these few weeks off. I was going to offer spiritual guidance and insight about being a living sacrifice, about realizing that "in Christ, we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others". I was going to explain what I have learned about trusting in God being a by-product of acknowledging and praising God, in spite of doubt and unbelief.
But: I began to write, knowing that it is the primary means of processing for me, and to my surprise, what I have apparently learned from my study break is what I've known all along.
I am a mom. To five incredible children. I have a family. I am yoked together with a good, godly man who is my husband, who I have promised to love and honor and serve.
And yes, I have a job, and I am a minister, and it is worth pouring my life into those things. But in my daily living, to have work at the top of my priority list and allot the dregs to my family, I have not only dishonored them but also turned away from who I am. And, in doing so, I do a grave disservice to the One who has called and equipped me and given me these children.
It makes me happy to have my home and family first in my life. I feel at peace with God; I have a sense of joy and purpose. I feel creative. I feel an immense amount of positive energy.
This, then, is how I should live.
"In our words and in our lives, may your will be done."