The grass is not greener on this side of the fence.
There. I’ve put it in black and white to remind myself of that truth. Really, I probably need a sticky note on my forehead or a permanent tattoo on my brow just to make sure I really, really “get it.” I never set out to be a stay-at-home mom. For sure, I never in my wildest dreams planned on staying home and homeschooling my tribe of monkey children. That’s a little too “Ma Ingalls-esque” for me.
But I can still remember the day–when our first-born was 2 months old–standing in our bedroom, facing the corner, dreading the day ahead. I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. It was like I was swimming upstream, and not in the salmon sort of fashion, but more like I was trying to swim against a rip tide that was dragging me out to sea…some sort of career ocean with my baby girl strapped into her car seat left alone on the sandy shore. Geesh. I think I milked that metaphor to death…
Anyway, I knew to continue working would be walking in disobedience. So, I quit my job that very day. My boss knew and had a box waiting for me in the closet. Apparently, I wasn’t as poker-faced about the situation as I had hoped and he had read me like a book from my first day back from maternity leave. He set me up with files to work on at home until they could replace me and I settled into my new role as stay-at-home wife and mom. And I loved it.
Fast-forward a few years and a few babies and I found myself…searching. I loved my husband, my children, my home. But the world seemed to be moving at lightning speed and we were just toddling along, one poopy diaper, one sippy cup, one bedtime story at a time. And it turns out that my mother was right–the crying baby is actually easier than the lippy, willful child. It actually does, in fact, hurt me more than them to discipline. Besides that, I’m completely out numbered and often–though don’t tell them this!–out-witted. I grew tired of eating and smelling like peanut butter, weary of fishing Cheerios out of the couch cushions and stuffing dirty laundry into hampers. Going to work looked….restful. At least at work I could see that I was accomplishing goals, meeting deadlines, being called by my actual name, for heaven’s sake!
So, I agreed to teach part-time this year. I rationalized that I could do both. I would be home in the mornings to take care of things around the house, run errands, keep appointments. But I could use my brain for something in the afternoons, use my college degree, be a part of something outside the walls of my home. I even had friends and family members tell me they didn’t know how I had lasted so long, that I was long overdue some “me” time, that I deserved it, that it was time to get back into the real world.
And that real-world grass looked lush and verdant and filled with the promise to satisfy.
And it is…if this is the side of the fence you are called to. I have discovered that I am not. As I’ve wrestled with my uneasiness…oh, let’s be completely honest here…as I’ve wrestled with my discontent, I’ve had a difficult time understanding what I’ve been wrestling with. Sort of a Jacob experience, I guess, though I’m hoping to come out of this with my hip intact and I’ll probably not ask everyone to start calling me Israel. My husband–genius of a man!–finally said, “Honey, you’re struggling with your calling.”
So the discontent was slain by a single word: Calling. What is my calling?
As soon as I let that question roll through my head, I knew the answer. It had been right in front of me all along and I couldn’t see it because of the blinding effects of that green, green grass…
I had become dissatisfied with my calling because…well, I started looking around at what others were called to do. Those people, those things looked more interesting, more exciting, more spiritual. And what I was seeing in my own home, in my children and marriage, heck–in my own mirror!–didn’t look all that exciting. It looked messy and hard.
I found this passage in 2 Timothy and I just love the sequence of words…
“who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,” 2 Timothy 1:9 (emphasis mine)
God gives us each a calling–both universal and specific callings–that are holy…not because of how we accomplish those callings, but because those callings are purposed and given by God. My diapering and dish-washing, sweeping and dusting, laundering and laboring can be chores. Or, they can be my highest calling. They can be mind-numbing tasks or opportunities to worship. My teaching abilities can be used to achieve a sense of personal accomplishment or they can be used to bless my children and family within the calling God has placed on my life. It’s perspective…and while I do not think my time teaching this year has been wasted–I love my classes and each student has been a joy–I do believe that God has faithfully used my unrest, my discontent to instruct me. I pray that my highest calling will fulfill God’s purpose and plan for my life, bringing Him glory.
And that I’ll remember to be content with the fields I’m in…