Yesterday, I went to church. I’ve been a sporadic church goer for years, and I’m trying to make it a point to be more consistent about it. Not because I think going to church makes me a better Christian or is the only way to be a better or even decent person. There are many ways to grow and be a decent human being. I’m going because I’ve found an awesome community of people, a tribe of kick-ass creatives, a crew of heartbreakingly beautiful, broken and honest souls that I want to be around more and more. Also, I want Easton to know Bible stories. Even if he decides one day he doesn’t believe them, I believe there is value in the stories, that there is good that can be taken from them and applied to life, and he will understand more books and movies and people with Bible knowledge later on too.
Anyway, I went to church and listened while wrestling Easton on my lap who was noisily chewing on any toy I gave him and dropping them on the floor. Also, there were rocks underneath the chairs as part of the sermon. I made the mistake of giving one to him, and spent the rest of the sermon worrying he was going to throw the stone. We know how Jesus feels about stone-throwers, and I was pretty sure I didn’t want my son’s first sin to be nailing some poor person in the back of the head. He didn’t, but we did have to leave early when I took away the stone, and he started throwing a fit. All kidding aside, the message yesterday was beautiful. I’m sure it was meant to be inspiring, but I left with a tightness in my chest, and cried a good part of the drive home.
The stones were a metaphor for our God-given gifts. These gifts, these talents of ours have weight, he said. Our purpose is to use them. He gave example after example of people who used their gifts to influence others–they were like Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King Jr., but not them. He used different, lesser known examples, but just as powerful. I don’t remember their names because I was busy wrestling my son and worrying about his stone, but they were powerful examples of how we can use our gifts to live an authentic, inspiring life. And this is what made me cry.
We also went to a pumpkin patch yesterday, and we reveled in the early autumn afternoon. Watching Easton pick a pumpkin, pet a donkey and laugh at the goats was just the medicine I needed. It was the perfect thing to pull me into the present moment and find the beauty and joy in it. Kids have a way of doing that–forcing us to slow down, to focus on what surrounds us, and to find the thing we are most excited and happy to see and notice that thing only.
I’m not the best at it. Slowing down & being present. When I was teaching a lot of yoga, I became a practitioner of mindfulness. Practiced being present and was much better at it then. It’s different now. Even with Easton’s glowing smile or serious scowl as he studies this new world around him to remind me be present!, I still struggle sometimes….Or a lot of the time.
And the sermon pushed me into a world of worry–one I visit frequently since becoming a mom. Specifically since becoming a stay-at-home mom(SAHM). I worry about my baby, about if he will hit his head on the corner of the coffee table while he traverses the couch, about if the foods I eat will affect my milk and his stomach, about if the way I am raising him will help him to be healthy, secure in who he is, smart, and happy. I worry about him a lot. And I also worry about myself. I worry that as a SAHM that I am not using my gifts or education or talent. That I am living a small and insignificant life. That I am being a burden to my husband–even though he consistently points out that I am anything but a burden. I worry that I’m not contributing to our financial health, that I’m prolonging my career and retirement, and savings. I worry that I’m living a life with little value, and I feel a lot of guilt for not giving more–to my husband, to our community, to the world.
I’m a day behind in the pink book I read every year. So I read yesterday’s message today, and it was perfect. “There is a time for everything, And a season for every activity under heaven.” Eccelsiastes 3:1 The meditation began with that, and then the author noted: “Yes, but they are not the same time. You cannot raise happy, secure, emotionally well-adjusted children, revel in a fabulous marriage and work a 60 hour week.”
And it’s true. There is no way I could be Teacher of the Year right now–working 60-70 hour weeks, grading papers, having heartfelt conversations with students, planning lessons, running a recycling team, a random acts of kindness group, teaching yoga, volunteering, and being a mother and a wife. I’m just now learning how to be an okay wife and mother at the same time.
Maybe it’s okay that I’m not serving more people right now. Maybe my purpose right now–in this season of my life–is to be the strongest pillar of support I can be to my husband and son. Maybe nurturing and nourishing them is enough. Maybe one day I will write my own pink book, or a novel, or I’ll get my MA and be a school counselor. Maybe I’ll make a significant contribution towards my son’s college, toward a 401K, toward buying our first house as a family, toward charity. Maybe I’ll volunteer at the animal shelter and walk dogs, maybe I’ll plan another prom at the local nursing home. Maybe I’ll do more than just recycle and use vinegar and essential oils to ensure the planet my son inhabits isn’t a complete disaster. Maybe I’ll run another marathon, or more realistically a half marathon or do a triathalon. Maybe I’ll teach more yoga and give some classes for free.
Maybe I won’t. But maybe I can just be me, be fully present in the place where I am now–in this season of my life, and maybe it’s enough. Maybe I don’t have to measure up to anything. Maybe just showing up, being present and giving as much love as I can to who and whatever is in my path is enough.
With Love….and hope,