Whenever I hear people tell women that raising kids is the most important job they will ever do, I always sort of cringe. I have stopped dying on that hill, because I have found that they never mean anything bad by it, their intentions are beautiful actually, but it’s just always sort of rubbed me wrong. Now hear me out, I find huge value in my kids and in the small window of time I have with them, I understand that raising them to love Jesus is one of the most crucial jobs I will ever do, and I get that “ministry begins in the home”. What I struggle with is the way that statement somehow sets a standard on a lot of women, that motherhood is the highest honor – the goal to be reached, or that all the other dreams we carry are silly in comparison. For example, one of the biggest and most common pieces of “advice” I received as I painfully stepped out of my ministry job was “This is for the better, now you get to be with your babies and it goes so fast. Raising those babies is the most important thing you will ever do.” And they all meant well, they all were really trying to impart wisdom on me, to help me, but in that moment I didn’t need someone to tell me that loving my kids was important, I already knew that. I needed them to understand that I was grieving the loss of something I loved very much, and that I was struggling to understand if my giant heart dreams were important to God. In this journey, I was extremely proactive to pray for God to give me eyes to see my babies, and a heart that was ready to soak up every moment with them, but I struggled with knowing what to do with all the other “dreams” I was holding. On one hand, the encouragements that were coming from the wiser women in my life were making me question my dreams of being in the trenches for Jesus, and on the other hand I was looking at Biblical women who did both and wondering if maybe God just didn’t see me anymore.
And now…here I sit…10 weeks pregnant, with a baby, that came as a surprise, and initially made me feel like my dreams were being taken away. Selfish? yeah. 100%. selfish and small-minded. And I am not saying this baby is not loved, or that my home is not so expectant for its arrival. Names are being chosen, toddler hands are pawing at my belly, and everyone is not so secretly praying for a baby brother. This baby is coming into a home that has space for it, with three older sisters who can’t stop talking about how cute it will be, a father who is pleading with God for a son, and a mama who can’t wait for baby smells. It is so loved. But you see, I had all these other big dreams, big dreams to adopt two children – we had barely started the process – boys of course to balance out the estrogen within these walls. Big dreams to finally begin taking my writing seriously, I was going to start training for another half marathon, and I was fervently praying over this little ministry dream that’s been tucked away in my heart, all while thinking “I can do this now, my kids are older, it will work now. It’s my turn.” Oh friends. There are so many things I am learning right now. The lessons in humility are relentless and the reminders of his sovereignty haven’t slowed one bit.
A few years ago, during a moment of worship we were encouraged to close our eyes and imagine where God was, to invite him into the experience with us and see what happened. These types of situations have always made me slightly uncomfortable, not for a lack of belief but rather because I didn’t see myself as “spiritual enough” to get anything from them. That night I laid on the floor of a small classroom in our church, I listened to the music play & I poured my heart out to a God that I hoped would deem me worthy of revealing his love to. That experience became a staple in my walk with christ, a significant marker in my journey. You see, that classroom was filled with women who had suffered sexual trauma, who had endured sexual abuse in their lifetime, and who – for most of them – struggled to believe God was good at all….let alone that he was with them. “Close your eyes and imagine where God was doing your abuse.” was the actual instruction & everything in me wanted to run for the door.
But I stayed, and he showed up.
My dress was white, and it fell all the way to the ground, the grass that my bare feet stood on was so soft that it felt fake. My hair was long and my 16-year-old body stood there almost feeling lost, not understanding the beauty that surrounded me. There was a meadow that stretched out as far as I could see, and there he was standing next to me. His eyes were waiting for mine to find them and once they did he grabbed my hand, “You are safe now, I have good things for you.” and we walked for as long as my imagination would hold onto that vision.
Over the last four years, when I have prayed for a reminder of his faithfulness, that scene has been the first thing I see when I close my eyes. “You are safe now.” Through the valleys and emotional rollercoasters that come from healing, I didn’t doubt God’s goodness because I knew that I knew that I knew that God was a God who could swallow the fire whole if he wanted to, & he was more than capable of carrying my crap. Experience told me that He was a God who redeemed, that he didn’t waste a drop of pain. That I was safe with him. What my experiences had yet to touch on were my dreams. I had never stopped to consider if all my hopes were on God’s radar, because it didn’t feel very “Christian” to question it. “Of course they matter, he’s God – DUH.” But did I really believe that? In my bones, could I bet my life on it? Did I believe that he was the God of the good, and fun, and adventurous kingdom dreams as much as I believed he was the God of the trenches, and the broken and the hurting?
I am learning that for some of us there’s a disconnect there, between “knowing” that God is good & and really understanding just how good our God is. And some of us wrestling that tension of “motherhood being our highest calling” and feeling guilty for having toes that are dying to run on mission for Jesus, and wondering if we are allowed to do both? Recently, as a met with one of our pastors I told him that I felt forgotten by God, that I had done all the things I was supposed to do and somehow this is where I was, and it didn’t feel fair. Since that meeting, as I wrestled with my newest news and looked at the shelf life of my “dreams” expand, I felt the deepest conviction.
“Why would you ever think that your dreams don’t matter to me? Look around you, it wasn’t that long ago that this was all just a dream. Your dreams matter, but you are not ready for them yet.”
The last month has been a road where the Lord has asked me to put some things down, to shift my gaze upward, and to take some steps forward, without looking away, without looking down or questioning what’s coming. And that’s always an awkward dance. Will I fall? Will I walk into something blindly? Will I miss out on something? Our human nature is to need the details, before diving in. But I am learning my obedience isn’t obedience if I need a play by-play beforehand. Right after I stepped out of my full-time job, I was challenged to consider that maybe my picture of obedience was actually just compliance. At first thought, I think that we consider them to be one in the same, but actually compliance tends to occur once we know what we are getting ourselves into, “Ok, fine, I can agree to that.” Where obedience doesn’t need all the questions to be answered. Obedience is laced with a fresh confidence in who God is, therefore it finds no reason to interrogate him. And so that is where I sit, holding these little dreams in my hands, reminding myself every day that God sees me, and that I want what he wants for me. That like so many other Christian women, it is possible to raise babies, and run on mission.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Maybe you’re like me, and you’re trying to figure out how your dreams fit in with the trenches of toddlers, and maybe there is literally no space for them yet and that feels even more defeating. Maybe your dream is motherhood and you’re reading this thinking “what I would give”. Maybe you don’t even know what your dreams look like, but you want so badly to be used for the Kingdom of God. Please hear me when I tell you that it all matters to him. It’s ok if motherhood is all God has asked you to hold right now, he still sees the other things. And it’s ok if you can’t figure out how to juggle it all, he doesn’t need you to…one thing at a time, you’re not going to miss out.
I am learning that those “wiser women” mean so much more than that simple statement of “Motherhood being the most important thing we will ever do” can actually translate. They really mean to tell us not to miss out on the delicate places of raising up little Jesus lovers, because we are afraid of missing our calling or that God will skip over us when he’s picking the players for his team. They mean to tell us that God is bigger and babies or not, life on mission is happening in the small moments too. They mean to remind us to take small steps, and to be content in where we are before it’s gone & to keep our hands wide open, because if we miss this we will miss so much more. I am grateful for them & I am with you. I am learning to trust the process more and more everyday, that without the procedure, I would not be prepared for the dream. We are not forgotten friends, and he is not simple…he is big.
“You are safe, I have good things for you.”