I recently reposted something I wrote last year on being in the moment as a mother and realizing that I am right where I need to be. It’s been a journey where I have been untangling my own frustrations of ‘missing out’ on other life experiences to do what I am doing now. Before anyone thinks I haven’t enjoyed being a mom I must clarify: I have enjoyed it painfully! I love my kids from the inner core and I can’t, and do not, imagine life without them. They bring joy and laughter into this house and there isn’t anything else I think I should be doing.
The issue has always been a question of whether or not I am living to my full potential, doing all that I can based on who I am. I used to teach college-aged students about pursuing their goals and dreams in life and I loved the process of exposing the ambiguity of ‘finding their calling’ (more thoughts on ‘calling’ for another post). I would listen to them share their inner turmoil about how they couldn’t seem to find the lost and illusive treasure that was marked “what I am suppose to do with my life” and they often thought they were missing out on something great.
I always told them, through almost a week of teaching, “Do what you care about and what you love. It will likely grow and morph into something great”, or put another way, “Pick something and do it well”. It was freeing and frustrating for them at the same time. The next comment that came from them was always, “If I pick thing A then I might miss out on thing B. Or worse, I’ll get locked into a commitment and not be able to do thing B when it finally does come along”. To which I always would reply, much to their frustration but often followed by laughter, “Yes, you will! If you pick something to do with your life you will always be missing out on other things.” Ahhh…. the simplicity of life!
Enter my present day. I am learning to practice what I have been preaching to others for years now. Saying yes to my amazing husband meant that I would say no to other men. Saying yes to becoming a mother meant that I would miss out on opportunities to fly off to teach in a school at last minute’s notice or that I would turn down outreaches to other countries (we actually have taken a few outreaches as a family). Saying yes to moving to the midwest meant saying no to other countries that are far more exotic… and warmer. I share this dilemma with countless youth and middle agers in this nation, and in this phase of life. For some reason I find that the tension is mainly felt by mainstream evangelicals. Maybe it’s that we are taught that we should be “history makers in our generation”. It’s a teaching I am fond of but hold a bit loosely and demand a bit more clarity these days (again, a post for another time). The path to finding how we will indeed make history puts a huge pressure and creates an overwhelming expectation to find out that ONE THING we are suppose to commit our lives to. I now believe life is a lot more fluid than this; more openness to pursue a variety of options and more grace for plans to change.
Some of the tension is cultural. We are a culture of many options, always keeping our options open, and most of life really does cater to us. Gone are the days of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. These days you are likely to experience the onset of angina pains as you walk through the grocery store, break out into a nervous sweat and try to pick out a flavor of ice cream. This cultural view makes for a huge burden of expectation when we have to makes choices and commitments although we might be afraid that something more amazing might come along. I will scream it from the mountain tops, “YOU WILL ALWAYS MISS OUT ON SOMETHING!!!! CHOOSE ANYWAY!!!! RISK ANYWAY!!!!” Live and bend with the fluidity of life, make mistakes, sometimes huge ones, and don’t get stuck in stagnate water. And then be ok when you make your decisions and you watch other amazing opportunities pass you by, because they will! Seeing missed opportunities sucks a bit, if I’m honest, and can also bring a lot of doubt as to whether or not you did make the right choice, but it’s all about perspective. Easy for me to say, huh? Yes, but I’m trying to live it out and I’m actually beginning to find more of my footing in the role of a mom who is at home with small children.
I have a lot of friends going through this as they become new mothers, “What happened to the things I use to love to do?” and even single friends who are trying to find the path in life that makes them come alive. I will add my own thoughts on something that inspired me years ago from a teacher I respect and one who has more life experience than I. He was asked what he would change about his life if he were to do things over again. His answer was three fold:
1. Live in another country for a few years
2. Learn another language
3. (Most importantly) Take more risks!
That about sums it up for me. Words I am in the process of living by. I’m gaining more perspective as I choose to be exactly where I need to be. My choices are also bringing greater joy.
Risk well and toast to the whole of life! La Vie Entiere