My kids are still asleep on this quiet morning and as I read my devotional, drink my coffee, and look at my house cluttered with toys I wonder why I cannot just be content? It’s a beautiful mess, in all the truest senses, the clutter, the toys, the artwork drawn by tiny hands, and yet something inside me tells me I need more. It’s the voice that begs me to feed my ego and compares my list of accomplishments with my favorite authors. It’s the voice that reminds me each June just how many years have passed since I put a book on the shelf. It’s the voice that shames me every time I walk by my computer and there aren’t another 500 words hammered out on fake paper.
There is another voice though, the one that confidently tells me “this is it” when I’m sitting on the floor doing puzzles and reading with my kids. The voice that whispers “this doesn’t matter” when I am rushing my kids out the door and barking because we are 5 minutes late for something. There is a voice in the night that reminds me that my salvation is worked out through fear and trembling not a list of accomplishments. (We insomniacs hear best at night)
It would be so much easier to have the stuff though. To have the accolades and progress reports and I beg of God, can’t I just have it all? I know my heart is in the wrong place though, my desires are jacked up by selfish ambition and a desire to prove my worth.
My 3 and ½ year old, Claire, is into everything princess and fairy. It’s terrifying. Being raised in a house with three brothers this phenomenon is a whole new terrain for me. It must be princess everything, songs, dresses, shoes, right down to her underwear. She’s committed I’ll give her that. However since most of the Disney movies involve some horrifying witch or parent death we have landed on the tinker bell movies and a heavy dose of frozen to get us through the obsession.
Tinkerbell has taught me a lot though (they say God works in mysterious ways) as a fairy she is assigned a talent based on what she is good at. She is a tinker, which means she builds (go with me here) it’s pretty unglamorous.. Imagine engineer but without the cool pocket protectors. She fights against her talent because she wants a fancy one like her friends. She wants to make flowers grow or teach baby birds to fly, she wants to control the wind, or harness the light for the fireflies but she is left in the tinker hole creating baskets and coming up with trinkets. She tries all her friends’ talents thinking surely she got hers wrong and she’s awful at them. Then she stumbles back to her own dejected and frustrated. Spoiler alert though she saves spring and realizes her talent is awesome. I watched with Claire and couldn’t help but feel complete empathy with Tinkerbell (yes you read that right).
I want a prettier talent. I want my mission field to be out of my home and in the world, and it is sometimes, but the majority of my time and my love is spent inside this home on these little people and one big man. What I really want though, and what Tink (thats her nickname) wanted too, it to be seen and noticed and praised for a beautiful gift instead of being behind the scenes tinkering away. As a mom you are a tinker, working behind the scenes making everything work often unnoticed and underappreciated. So sometimes I want a glittery calling, one that puts me in board rooms and meetings and gives me bonuses that tell me I’m awesome. I picture working life to be more like netflix than real life, I know this illusion would fail me. However, I have a toddler who stumbles downstairs every morning and tells me oatmeal is cold and she doesn’t like what I have planned so my illusions whisper the lies my heart wants to hear.
The thing is though, I don’t want to be the woman I was before I had my kids. I have learned more in my almost four years of trekking through motherhood than I did in almost 25 years of life. God has grown me in ways that I never imagined possible. I am more humble, kinder, and gentler (still have a ways to go but I have time) than I ever was before kids. I also realize how little I know and I how much I need God. Like every day I need him. The glittery wears off, the shine of worldly pleasures fade, but nothing compares to being faithful in the journey God has called you to.
I was having this same conversation with a friend recently and she pointed me to Present over Perfect by Shauna Nyquist and I was caught by this profound truth, “It’s easier to be impressive to strangers that it is to be consistently kind behind the scenes. Sometimes, brave looks boring, and that totally, absolutely, okay.” Its brave to say this is all I can handle right now and to hell with what the world tells me. Its brave to say I have just enough and don’t need more. Dare I say it’s brave to be utterly content when you’ve done nothing else but feed little mouths, nurture little souls, and pushed tiny bodies for hours on the swing? Maybe this is my best work. Maybe it’s the best story I’ll ever write, and just maybe I will realize it wasn’t actually boring at all… it was really brave.