Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ambition and Aspiration

Things I once wanted to be when I grew up:

Waitress. I well remember breaking the news to my family at Red Lobster, our go-to place for birthday celebrations. Our waitress, young, beautiful, and confident, had inspired me, but my dad quietly informed me that perhaps I needed to set my sights elsewhere.

Nurse. I loved reading the Cherry Ames and Sue Barton series as a girl, and thus my ambition to the nursing profession was born. It was, however, quickly extinguished the day my mom asked me to salt and pepper some raw chicken pieces and I nearly lost my lunch, so to speak.

Teacher. In our playroom my dad painted a whole wall with chalkboard paint. Somewhere my mom acquired some old text books, teacher's editions, with the tests and the answers in them. I spent many an hour laboriously copying out test questions on the chalkboard wall and lecturing my imaginary students.

Astronaut. I grew up in north Alabama where field trips to the Space and Rocket Center were a yearly event. Some of my fondest memories include my dad waking us up very early in the morning to watch a rocket launch on tv.

Actress. My mom occasionally took us to the children's theater which I absolutely loved. Even then I was a great fan of a great story and seeing Aladdin or Jack and the Beanstalk come alive on the stage was breathtaking. Even better was waiting after the show to get autographs of the cast members.

Author. As I said, I have always loved a good story and this love would propel me to the scribbling of my own stories. A dream I never really outgrew. Yesterday the spiral notebook crammed under the bed; today the computer and blogging.

Professor. Two semesters of graduate school cured this one.

The funny thing is, I do not remember ever specifically aspiring to my current occupation: motherhood. I guess maybe I always assumed I would be a mom and never really thought about balancing motherhood with whatever my current career aspiration happened to be.

Yesterday as I chatted with another mom at a school field trip, she asked me the inevitable question, "What do you plan to do..." I finished the question for her, because I've heard it a thousand times, "...with yourself now that all the kids are in school?"

As indignant as I am sometimes when asked the question, it hasn't always been an easy one for me to answer. For nearly a decade I had a baby either in my belly or on my hip. The transition from diaper bag to backpack and lunch box really caught me off guard. I'm a smart girl, I knew with each birthday my boys were getting older; it was my transition that surprised me.

I once knew what I did: I changed diapers and filled juice cups and pushed strollers. For years. One baby boy after another. And now?

That transition plunged me into what has been at times an almost frantic search for purpose and validation. I bought the lie of our culture that we must accomplish to be significant. I knew God called me to be home, even now with the boys in school, but I couldn't shake the feeling I was supposed to be doing something, some accomplishment, some more worthwhile endeavor, something I could tell people I "did with myself all day now that the kids are in school." Somehow, laundry wasn't enough!

Our faithful God has taught me the value of an ordinary life lived for His purposes and His glory. The privilege of serving Him in the simple tasks of laundry and grocery shopping and shuttling kids all over town. The holy responsibility of raising a generation of godly young men. The call to say Yes wherever He leads, whatever He asks. The freedom of living in the today of my journey, and knowing He holds the tomorrow.

The mom I was chatting with yesterday is also a stay at home mom, yet unlike me, she has a clearly defined direction she plans to pursue. For more than just a moment, I was somewhat envious and felt that same old panic over purpose. But then I was able to answer her with complete confidence: "This is where God wants me for today. And for today that is enough."

17 comments:

  1. I experienced something similar. I wanted to be a writer, lawyer, professor. When I was first married and working in an office, I spoke to a woman who basically said she worked in order to pay for the nanny. I decided then and there I would stay at home if I could.

    I've been home for almost eighteen years.

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  2. Oh, friend, you've written yet another post that strikes right at my own heart. I've dealt with those same feelings of inadequacy when asked that question, because I don't have any "career" ambitions beyond being wife and mom - especially now that the kids are getting older. I've felt like maybe I'm lazy or something is wrong with me for this. Thank you for pointing out that I need to seek God's glory today where He has me right now and let Him take care of tomorrow. What an encouragement!

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  3. Wonderful installment!!!!!! The task of raising Godly men is unbelieveble - Randy and I pray everyday that we have raised and will raise Godly sons....I spend a good bit of time with yor sons and I KNOW that God has mighty plans for them - I see the guidance that they are receiving at home in their prayers and in their lives....Lisa, I can't tell you how mich I enjoyed today's post....

    Love you...

    MdA

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  4. I was able to answer her with complete confidence: "This is where God wants me for today. And for today that is enough."

    Amen, Lisa. I have to remind myself of this constantly, but I have no doubt that this is where I am meant to be. I loved the Cherry Ames books too, as well as Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, etc. I loved (and still love) to read! Blessings to you!

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  5. Lisa what a wonderful post! I loved your last paragraph. I have sorta the opposite. I have to work, have always wanted to be a SAHM that could be involvd in the kid's schools, etc. but it never happened. So believe it or not, some of us do terribly want what you have and you go girl. Bring glory to the Lord that way He has called you! You are doing a high calling!

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  6. I LOVE this so much!

    Thanks for sharing your heart on motherhood!

    Kim

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  7. Lisa
    Very well stated. After raising my two children as a stay-at-home mom (and homeschooling them besides), I was occasionally confronted with the same questions. After seeing the results of my choice in my two kids who are now 24 and 27, I am forever grateful that I followed God's leading. The women of today have fallen for an incredibly devastating lie that life full-time with children isn't fulfilling. It may not seem so at the time, but watching the fruit my kids produce for God's glory as adults makes it worth it all. By the way, I am now 57 and still a stay-at-home woman and enjoying my lot in life. Keep up the good words.

    God Bless You.
    TZ

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  8. I have been blessed with a job where I can work from home. But it isn't always easy because I wear two hats! But because of my job my husband has been able to pursue his writing career.
    I love your post. Many times I think of loftier things that I could be doing, but I know where my priorities lie.
    We were just at Focus on Family and told Dr. Dobson how much we appreciated his "Bringing Up Boys" book. I'm sure you have read it, having all boys ?!? :)
    I think shuttling my teen boys around is my favorite, as I ask a ton of questions and that is the time I get to really know their friends.
    Blessings!

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  9. I've linked my blog to this post! This is so encouraging!

    Kim

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  10. I have never commented here before. I came here via Kim at Lifesong. I can not tell you what an answer to prayer this post was! My youngest of three will enter school full time next year and I have very much been struggling with these questions, all the while KNOWING I have no extra time to "get a job" and without failing to make our home and our lives what I (and more importantly God) want them to be. I even tried homeschooling as an "excuse" to matter while staying home but God just never did fully open that door. Your post was a tremendous blessing to me. Thank you.

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  11. Lisa,

    This hit me right where I need it. My kids are still young - two in school and 3 at home, but I've already felt this identity crisis creeping up on me. The year when they will all be in school is approaching me at lightening speed. I dread it.

    What a breath of fresh air your words were to my heart! I am first and foremost a daughter of the Great King. Not a Mommy. Fist, I am a child. And when that year comes that my kids are heading out the door, I will still be a child. May I forevermore find my identity in CHrist!

    Blessings!
    Chris in Canada

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  12. What a beatiful post! I found you through Lifesong. Thanks for sharing this.

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  13. What a beatiful post! I found you through Lifesong. Thanks for sharing this.

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  14. I have never commented here before. I came here via Kim at Lifesong. I can not tell you what an answer to prayer this post was! My youngest of three will enter school full time next year and I have very much been struggling with these questions, all the while KNOWING I have no extra time to "get a job" and without failing to make our home and our lives what I (and more importantly God) want them to be. I even tried homeschooling as an "excuse" to matter while staying home but God just never did fully open that door. Your post was a tremendous blessing to me. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lisa
    Very well stated. After raising my two children as a stay-at-home mom (and homeschooling them besides), I was occasionally confronted with the same questions. After seeing the results of my choice in my two kids who are now 24 and 27, I am forever grateful that I followed God's leading. The women of today have fallen for an incredibly devastating lie that life full-time with children isn't fulfilling. It may not seem so at the time, but watching the fruit my kids produce for God's glory as adults makes it worth it all. By the way, I am now 57 and still a stay-at-home woman and enjoying my lot in life. Keep up the good words.

    God Bless You.
    TZ

    ReplyDelete