Do you ever feel like life is passing you by?
I have been having this feeling a lot lately. The imminence of my 40th birthday probably has a lot to do with this. And the mischievous toddler (or whirlwind, as we are wont to call her!) who fills my days might have something to do with it too.
I never expected to be changing diapers when I was pushing 40. I guess I expected that by this time in my life, I would have some clear direction on what I was supposed to be when I grew up. But here I am on this threshold and I still have no idea what I am supposed to do with my life.
Part of the problem might be my endless ambition and the expectations that I have for myself. There are a lot of dreams that I have and many of them I have started pursuing only to run into a brick wall that feels insurmountable. Ready to focus on writing and I find out I’m pregnant instead. Ready to get serious about photography only to find that my current computer and photo uploading system are incompatible with each other. Ready to work beside others on book projects only to discover that I don’t seem to have what it takes.
A couple of weeks ago all of these feelings came to a head for me. I was feeling like a failure. Inept kept coming to mind as a description for myself. At every turn, I was met with frustration. And then this past weekend, I had an epiphany. What if all of these seeming failures are simply meant to point me to what God is already doing, what He has already done in me?
More than any other time in my life, these frustrations have forced me to pursue God’s Word. My love for truth is growing deeper and stronger. My one word for the year, dignity, has me figuratively falling on my face on a regular basis. My little whirlwind fills me with the greatest joy and her life is the sweetest dream I didn’t know I wanted to have (along with the three storms that came before her!).
My dreams for my life have tricked me into thinking that I am unsuccessful until I reach them. I look at women decades younger than myself who have already achieved my dreams and I begin to feel like I have missed the boat. But how can I believe that life is a journey, that every story matters, that God has a beautiful plan and purpose for every life, and not accept the journey He has me on, the story He is writing in me, and then trust in His perfect timing?
I don’t want to be cliche, but what it comes down to is this~ I don’t get to make judgments on my own life, determining my success or failure based on circumstances. Of course, I am responsible for my own choices and for working hard, but if I am being honest with myself in my heart of hearts, my life is truly beautiful. I have the best husband for me. I could go on and on about how wonderful he is, but perhaps we will save that post for Valentine’s day. Or maybe HIS 40th birthday! Our quiver is full of children who fill our hearts and our lives in beautiful ways. Yes, it is trying. No, they are not perfect. But man, are they FUN. They are spunky, compassionate, and tenacious little people and the fact that I get to spend the rest of my life loving and leading them is an incredible blessing, one that I do not want to diminish in any way. Also, I kind of love being a pastor’s wife. It was never my dream, yet God has seen fit to place me in this role, one that I am growing up into. It is overwhelming at times as our church is growing in numbers, yet my heart longs to know each one, to lovingly care for them. Sometimes I feel like a failure even in this, because I struggle with disorganization, so when I forget something important or fail to return a phone call, I visualize a big “L” on my forehead. Why do I do this? No one else expects perfection from me, so why do I expect it from myself?
I have a dream and whether I achieve that dream by the time I’m 40 or by the time I’m 80 really isn’t up to me. It’s up to the Author and Perfecter of my faith. Life is not about failure, it is about faithfulness.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20,21
I am a pastor’s wife. You probably already know this about me. What you might not know is that my family lives across the parking lot from the church where my husband serves.
I am a very spoiled wife. Most days of the week, my husband is integrally involved in our family’s morning routines. He drives our oldest daughter to school and takes our boys to their bus stop.
But on Sundays, he is gone before I even get out of bed. Every Saturday night, he reminds our kids that it is their job to help me in the morning. This is especially important on the days when I sing with our praise team.
Days like today.
For some reason, my kids seem to have their worst moments on Sunday mornings. It’s like they know that is is the day when their parents might be a little distracted by responsibilities and will somehow overlook the bad behavior.
It is exhausting, because they are partially correct. As a pastor’s family, we are committed to making sure that my husband is able to focus on his responsibilities. And so on a Sunday, any discipline that needs to happen must fall to me.
Sometimes it is easier to ignore the issues that arise on a Sunday, because I have responsibilities too. But bad behavior doesn’t take a break. Therefore, I must not take a break either.
We did our mic check for praise team after I had a particularly difficult time with my children. They were crying, I was crying. I was upset and shaking, so when I was asked to check my mic, I wanted to vent. But it seemed inappropriate. Instead, I quoted the first scripture that came to mind. Lamentations 3:21-23…
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed. His compassions never fail; they are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.
Repeating these words that are so familiar to me began to change my attitude. We started singing about thankfulness, praising God and my heart continued to be restored. I had a sweet time with my youth girls in Sunday school talking about the divinity of Jesus. And then, my husband preached a sermon on grace.
It was exactly what my heart needed. I know it to be true, but was reminded again today- the Word of God is what truly changes me.
When Sunday mornings are tough, I pray that I would remember this day. Rather than allowing myself to be frustrated and getting angry at my children, I need to meditate on scripture.
Side note: I love the title of this post, because it is so appropriate. Part way through typing this blog post, I had to make a meal. We found Ainsley typing away on my computer. I decided to leave Ainsley’s variation on my title!
Last year, our family chose a mantra of sorts for the year. Well really, I chose a family mantra for the year! I had noticed a growing and pervasive attitude among my children, one of dissatisfaction and entitlement. My children would struggle to be happy for each other when one received something the others didn’t.
“Celebrate More, Compare Less” was born.
I’m not sure that it necessarily had a huge impact on my kids, but it changed ME. For several years now, I have been challenged to see the verse “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15) as an imperative rather than just a nice idea. Celebrate more, compare less reminded me of this verse and it became something that I repeated often to myself. When I was tempted to compare, I knew I needed to find a way to celebrate.
It is a beautiful way to live, one that I pray I continue to grow in.
I hadn’t really settled on a new family mantra for 2015. I had prayed about it, but mostly, I was listening to my family, trying to see if something would just hit me. And then it did. We were having family devotions (because we are trying to be intentional about all of the important things), and Dave said this, “Do the right thing, at the right time, with the right attitude.”
Huh. Yeah, that is good!
Quite honestly, it is something that we all need to work on. Somehow, my sisters took all of the organizing genes and left me with spontaneity. Which is great most of the time, but when it comes to teaching my kids discipline, it is a struggle.
So I am excited to see once again how our family mantra changes ME! It always amazes me how I can try and try and try to change my children’s behavior and then when I step back and pray that God would change me, He inevitably changes them. Interesting, isn’t it?
To help me remember throughout the year, I will be posting with the hashtag #RightthingRighttimeRightattitude and would love it if you would join me!
Here’s to a great 2015!
We are already 2 weeks into 2015 and I have to tell you that I am NOT liking my one word for the year. Who thought dignity was a good idea?!!
Deliberate made sense. It gave me the opportunity to think through what I do, to set goals, to make lists. It meant that I wasn’t going to let life just happen to me.
Faithful wasn’t easy, but it was good. 2013 was one of those years of the unexpected. Ainsley came in her own sweet time with several false starts that left me reeling. But hearing “How Great Thou Art” while I was laboring with her seemed appropriate. In the good times and the bad, I have learned to trust God. And my heart is able to praise Him through it all. Then a few months later, I was faced with the final reality of losing my precious Daddy. And yet, all of the pieces fit together perfectly- he met Ainsley! I got to squeeze his hand and kiss his cheek and tell him how much I loved him. And then our entire family gathered together in one of our favorite spots on earth as we celebrated his life. We sang “It is Well”and it was.
Brave was challenging, but it was FUN! It was the excuse to try the daring things that bring excitement to life. I felt like I was able to be a kid again. Play softball? Run a 5K? Yes, please!
But dignity? Well, it doesn’t make sense, it is not good and it is certainly not fun. Dignity is HARD.
In the past two weeks, I have yelled at my children more than I care to admit. I have also yelled at my husband and friends, there is nothing dignified about this. In these few short weeks, I have come to realize how very undignified I am. Frustration comes easily to me. It rises so quickly to the surface. And I can justify it! If you only knew what my day was like, I say, but I can see it in his eyes. Excuses. Lack of contentment. Immaturity even.
Choosing dignity as my one word has opened up a Pandora’s box for me. It is causing me to look hard at my heart issues, the ones that most casual observers of my life never see. But they are there and they are being ripped out and they are on display. My family has front row seats.
The ugliness in me has got to go.
As you might expect, I have been pondering this idea of being clothed with dignity (Proverbs 31:25). Dignity is a choice. It is something I can choose to put on. Or not. It is a deliberate decision to respond in an appropriate way. It is being faithful to truth, even when I might prefer to respond out of emotion. It is being brave enough to draw a line in the sand, to say THIS is who I want to be, because THIS is who I believe Christ wants me to be!
When I first joined Pinterest, I started a style board (which is quite laughable- those who know me are all too familiar with my general lack of style!). But one thing I do know is that everyone has a different style based on age, personality, body type, and financial means. I believe the same might be true of dignity. It is not a one-size-fits all kind of thing.
This year, I am going to start a dignity board, maybe not literally on Pinterest, but definitely in my head and my heart. What should dignity look like on me? How do I change my quick responses of frustration? In what ways can I bring honor to my God through my pursuit of dignity? How do I honor others?
One thing I know for sure is that this pursuit of dignity is going to be quite the ride!
Image from the lovely and generous Traci from tracimichele.com