Sunday morning finds me in the living room of the ministry where we gather for community, for fellowship, for worship. (In other words: church). Jonathan is home, sick, in bed, so I’m alone with my two girls. No, that isn’t quite right. I’m not alone. I am in the midst of friends and family, of brothers and sisters in Christ who smile when Abby squeals during the sermon or Katie needs an extra hug during singing. But I am solo-parenting. Katie, who has had a difficult morning, refuses childcare, choosing instead to oscillate between me and her Aunt Fats, and Abby, who cannot bear to be parted from me for a second, rolls happy circuits on the floor. I must admit, my attention is not fully on the sermon.
We’re in the midst of a series on Nehemiah, and the text this week is chapter 6. The thrust of the sermon is about the ways the enemy tries to distract us from our work, tries to draw us away from what God would have us do, and it is good, every word of it. But then he says something that captures my full attention, and I tear my gaze away from my baby’s grins long enough to jot it down in my notebook.
“I am convinced,” he says, speaking slowly and with emphasis, “that God’s vision for what He wants to do with our lives is much greater than our own.”
Yes, I think. Yes.
Something about the change in seasons sparks a need to organize, a need to clean, a need to bring order.
On Monday morning, once Abby is down for her nap, Katie and Euclid and I head outside. My girl and my dog entertain each other, chasing a tennis ball, running to and fro amid joyful laughter and excited yips, while I weed around the lavender plants in the front yard.
(Truth be told, I grew up in the desert, on a pile of tumbleweeds and sagebrush, and all greenery looks the same to me. It takes my husband’s consistent and dedicated effort in the yard to even remind me that taming the land around our home has value. I just don’t see what needs to be done. But he started in that bed on Saturday afternoon, which helped my eyes to see.)
On Tuesday, I tackle both freezers, pulling everything out, sorting and reorganizing and stacking items neatly in their place. Once I’m done, I text a picture to Jonathan. “My sense of self-worth comes from when others validate the work I do,” I say. “Please validate me.”
“No, no, no,” he replies. “Your sense of self-worth comes from recognizing your place as a daughter of God. But the freezer looks awesome.”
Snarky texts aside, there’s a sense of pride that comes from taming chaos, from bringing order, a sense of pride that I am only now beginning to recognize and appreciate. These tasks are small, fit into the corners of my day as I care for two small girls, but I am learning to be satisfied with these quiet accomplishments, to see value in the mundane and the ordinary, in the raising of children, in the making of a home.
After church, the sun plays hide-and-seek behind the clouds. There’s just enough warmth in the air to inspire a trip to the park. We have the place to ourselves.
Katie spends the majority of our time in the fire truck, narrating as she drives. She tells me about the weather, about the people we saw at church, about how she hopes Daddy is feeling better when we get home.
“Where are you going?” I ask.
“Driving to school,” she says. “I’m going to have a snack, and then drive home again.”
“What do kids do at school, Katie?”
I’ve lobbed her a softball. She doesn’t miss a beat.
“Wear unnies,” she tells me with authority.
In the ardor of my teenage faith, my vision for my life loomed large. I would be an overseas missionary, bringing the Word of God to unreached people groups. I would write and my words would reach thousands, if not more, for the cause of Christ. I would do big things, great things, important things. I would change the world.
In recent years, that vision has shrunk. I’ve begun to see the beauty in the ordinary, to recognize the good in the unnoticed. Today, my vision involves a happy marriage and a healthy home, raising kind kids and modeling for them what it means to follow Jesus, opening my home to others and working in my local community for change.
There are days when this vision – this life – seems small, lacking, not enough, when I hear a (good, excellent, important) challenge like the one in the sermon on Sunday and I think God must want so much more from me than this ordinary life.
I wonder, though, whether the problem isn’t with the life itself, but with what I think it means. Perhaps, this place – one of home, of relationships, of community – is exactly where He wants me to be. Perhaps childcare and housework and hospitality are just what I’m supposed to be doing, but I can’t see them for what they are.
Perhaps I’m limiting Him, not because of the life I lead, but because I’ve missed the point entirely: I think the point of what I do with my days is eating snacks and wearing underwear, when there’s really so much more to it than that.