Monday, June 22, 2015

Mom-ing Through Faith: On Being Restless

Sometimes, okay, many times, I feel like I am missing something. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I am so very happy with my life. With my family. With my growing faith. But. Over the last year especially, I have felt, well, restless

Do you feel the same way? 

Maybe you are just trying to "get through" this newborn/toddlerhood/teenager phase one day at a time. That is DEFINITELY me, too, many days.

Maybe you are a full-time working momma, one who works her tail off all day long in the corporate world and then rushes home to sneak in a few hours with your littles before your exhausted head hits the pillow. 

Maybe you are a stay-at-home momma, one who works her tail off all day long in the household and tries to feel appreciated by the seemingly mundane tasks that dictate many of your days before your head hits the pillow. 

Maybe you are somewhere in between. 

In that case, imagine my surprise, jubilation, and overwhelming joy when I went on a women's retreat (my first ever) recently and the absolutely adorable and amazing momma of four, Jennie Allen, was the invited speaker and the topic was....wait for it....feeling restless. [insert heavenly harps playing and sunlight beaming down through the clouds]. Wow. Did I need this!

What is my purpose--as a momma? As a wife? As a daughter? As a sister? As a friend? As a Christian? As a human? 

Why am I here? Why am I on this earth? Why was I given the life I was given? Why was I given the roles I was given? 

How can I please God, even as I continue my own unique path in my faith journey? How can I change the world? How can I know what to do with my life?

And what's more, how in the world am I supposed to find the time to answer all these questions while I am knee deep in diapers, time outs, carpool, laundry folding, and meal planning? 

Do you feel the same way? Do you have the same questions?

Maybe you, too, feel restless but also, perhaps, a little overwhelmed

In today's world, in part became of the never-ending chase to "win" at mommahood (I'm looking at you, comparison), I often feel this underlying requirement to be all things to all people at all times. But. Here's a little secret: No one can be all things to all people at all times. In fact, God did not design us that way. And thank goodness, because what a terribly boring world we would live in if we were all good at everything. If we were all capable of being all things to all people at all times. 

Nope. That's not how God created us at all.

Each one of us mommas who are reading this post right now are uniquely and wonderfully made, by God, for our own specific purpose. We were not all made the same. We were not all created with the same gifts. We were not all created to fulfill the same purpose.

For example, there are two Emilys in my life who I just adore: 

One is a full-time working momma who not only spends her days educating impoverished children but also managed to create, develop, maintain, and run a very successful jewelry business, all while raising her young daughter. When she is in the room, she brings warmth, enthusiasm, light, and fun. These are some of her gifts

The other is a stay-at-home momma of two who has an unmatched passion for her faith. She is well-read, always ready to listen, and is taking steps to change the world by following where the Lord is leading her. When she is in the room, she makes everyone around her feel comfortable, at ease, well-loved, and important. These are some of her gifts. 

Two Emilys. Two different people. Two different passions. Two different mommas. Two different sets of gifts. Two different paths. One God who created them in such unique and wonderful ways. 

As mommas, we often strive to be all things to all people. Let's stop. 

Let's focus on the specific gifts that God gave each of us individually and use those to better ourselves as mommas, as people, as Christians. 

So. Here's the question. One that may feel arrogant or hard or selfish to answer, but important, so very important: 

As a momma, what are YOUR gifts? What are your unique and wonderful gifts that God purposefully intended for YOU to have and to use? 

I think if we can answer this question, we can start to feel a little less restless, a little less overwhelmed, and maybe, just maybe, can start to become more aware of our purpose at this stage of the mommahood game. 

'Cause here's the thing. Not only does God give each of us our own gifts, he also gives each of us our own individual life story that not only shapes us but also shapes the way we come to understand and use our gifts. 

Need an example? Want complete transparency? Here it is: 

When I was 9, my dad died, very tragically and very unexpectedly, leaving behind a single momma with four young children to raise on her own. That day, a deep desire to help others, children in particular, was born in me. This is MY story. These are the gifts that God has given me to use to fulfill the purpose He sees for my life:

A few years ago, MY role, MY purpose was quite different than it is now. I was working full-time as a pediatric neuropsychologist in a large children's hospital and trying to help children and their families who were faced with various medical, cognitive, and psychological challenges, with the ultimate goal of helping them achieve their potential. I was able to communicate effectively with the families, school, physicians, and treatment teams and help establish comprehensive treatment plans to best help the families navigate their lives, all through writing, research, and speaking engagements. I also supervised graduate students who were pursuing the came career path and did my best to do so in a supportive, educational, and meaningful way. Those were the gifts that God gave me that I was able to use at that time. Based on my own childhood, I wanted to help these children and their families, and I was ultimately able to do just that by using the unique gifts God game me. 

Things are different now, as I transitioned into a stay-at-home momma role almost three years ago. Currently I believe that MY role, MY purpose, at this point in my life is to raise kind, loving, faith-filled children who love Jesus and want to better the world. My babies are young and are home with me at this stage in their lives, which has allowed me to play a more hands-on role in shaping their view of themselves, each other, and the world. I am still helping children, only at this time in my life, they are my own. I am also able to squeeze in time to write this blog, and I believe that writing is one of the gifts that God gave me. So. I am currently using that gift to try to help, influence, support, and nurture other mommas around me. 

Two different times in my life. Two different roles. Two different ways to use the gifts I was given. All stemming from the unique path my life has followed. This is MY story. What's yours?

Already in this series, I've mentioned Jennie Allen several times. I do it because her words have been life-changing for me, and I wonder if they could be for you, too. That being said,  I'd likely to give my highest recommendation that you stop reading this post for a moment, open up, and order her book, Restless. You will not regret it. 

As Jennie says,
"We need to quit apologizing for using our gifts and start apologizing for not using them."
Knowing your unique gifts is not arrogant. We are uniquely and wonderfully made, with our own individual gifts, with our own individual purposes. 
" using my gifts, others would be released to use their gifts, and so on."

You never know the impact that your gifts, your purpose, can have on another. 

"Without some effort, we will waste our minutes, our days, our lives."

Let's not waste our lives. What are we waiting for?

"I waded through a decade of the seemingly mundane, but if someone didn't change my children's diapers, they would not be able to change the world."

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

So. Again, I ask: 

As a momma, what are YOUR gifts? What are your unique and wonderful gifts that God purposefully intended for YOU to have and to use? 

I think if we can identify and use our gifts, we just may be able to change the world...and maybe a few diapers along the way.

Do not neglect the gift you have. 1 Timothy 4:14.

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