For Those Who’ve Lost Themselves

afloat
There you are, mama, pacing the floor with a fussy baby. There you are on your knees sweeping up the stray rice and peas from beneath the high chair. There you are making silly voices for stories at bedtime, hushing a midnight terror, putting the pencil in a little hand the right way again, and tucking a tender note in a lunch box.

There’s no one watching, no paycheck coming, no accolades. You feel invisible and sometimes you feel lost. You feel like you’ve lost yourself, your identity, but you haven’t. You just have no one there to witness it in its flourishing: the compassion, the service, the creativity, the patience, the insight—all those things that make you you. They are there—they are just out of the public eye. You who are teacher, counselor, advocate, servant, strategic-thinker, and artist. You’ve lost yourself in a place where you are seldom thanked or acknowledged. But if you look more closely, you may see that there in that which seems menial and mundane, you have found yourself.

~*~

There you are, dear one, who is longing for motherhood. There you are serving in the nursery, tutoring a troubled child, opening up your home in hospitality, lovingly packing a shoebox for a faraway child at Christmas. There you are painting toenails with your nieces, lavishing hugs and kisses on a friend’s child, volunteering to be the middle school camp counselor.

There’s no one watching, no one who sees the ache for more. You feel invisible and overlooked. You wonder who you are because you are not where you always thought you would be. You wonder if you will ever be who you thought you were. You feel lost and afloat wondering who you are in the waiting without realizing you are already the woman you long to be. You too are a life-giver, a nurturer, an advocate and ally for the voiceless. Every child who comes into your path feels the joy of your delight in them. You may not be where you want to be, but there is no question about who you are. You are beautiful.

~*~

There you are, father working late into the night at a job that saps you. There you are on the floor wrestling with your boys when the weight of the world lies heavy on your shoulders. There you are in bumper to bumper traffic, working through your lunch hour to make it in time for little league. There you are roused out of bed on a Saturday to play matchbox cars. There you are having a tea party in a tiara with your baby-girl instead of watching the big game. There you are getting up too early, going to bed too late.

No one understands the constant pressure of the responsibilities you carry. You feel alone in the midst of constant motion. Whoever it is that you are feels submerged, lost under the heaviness of constantly caring for those under your charge. You wonder who you are anymore never realizing that you are leader, provider, and sustainer. You are light of your children’s world, comfort of your wife’s heart, and the braveheart who battles chaos to create a small haven of peace in a world of conflict.

~*~

There you are empty-nester pouring your wisdom into a new mom. There you are veteran visiting the wards of the wounded. There you are single-mom slugging through two jobs. There you are husband fighting to win back the heart of your wife. There you are mother of a prodigal praying her home. There you are teen sharing the lunch table with the outcast.

For all who’ve felt lost and un-noticed, for all who’ve wondered who they are, I whisper:

You find yourself in losing yourself. You find yourself in the midst of the mundane, in the simple service unobserved. It is in the quiet flourishing of gifts that go unheralded. Who are you? You are more than others see. You are the sum of your moments lived not for worldly accolades, but lived for the pure pleasure of God.

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Just Another Day Dragon-slaying: Raising Braveheart

dragon-slaying“Mama, I’m scared,” intones my three-year old in a half-whine, half-cry as he clings to my legs.

“There’s a dragon in the playroom.”

“A dragon?” I ask incredulously.

“Uh-huh,” he moans.

I bend down to look at those pale blue eyes. I see his pretend fear, only it looks real to me. And so I whisper and hope it goes down deep to his soul, “You don’t have to be afraid.”

And then I ask with a breathless urgency, “Where’s your sword? Let’s go get him!” Together, we hunt for his plastic sabre and then call out like the brave heroes we’re pretending to be: “‘Watch out, dragon! Here we come!’”

This mama is no natural Braveheart. But years of trusting God have taught me that our posture in the world needs to be that of the overcomer. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” it says in Romans 8:31. “In this world, you will have trouble,” says Jesus, “but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And who could forget those famous rousing words to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9)?

How I wish I could tattoo this on his heart! If I could speak anything deep into the core of my little boy as he grows to be a man, it would be this. If God is with you, you need not fear. It’s not that scary things won’t happen. It’s not that you will be immune from hardship or pain. But if God is your friend, you will never face anything alone. If God is with you, you can count on the fact that no matter what evil you encounter, He has already had the ultimate victory. Evil can only go so far and no further. Its days are numbered. I’ve read the end of the story and good wins out.

Oh, how I want him to know that deep down in his bones. Because I want him to enter the world bravely, not as one who must cower back in fear, but one who goes with confidence. I want him to enter the world not as one who goes with the foolish arrogance of impermeability, but as one who goes with courage even in his frailty because he does not walk alone.

When I was younger, I remember being so desperately afraid of the dark. One night when something had roused me from my bed in pure fear, my mom taught me this verse. Yes, she taught it to me in the middle of the night—in the middle of my fear: “Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). To this day, when I’m afraid—I mean really afraid, like when I came home to a burglarized house or when we pulled up to a throng of hysterical people blocking our road home from the edge of Congo—when I’m afraid, I still whisper, “Greater is he that is within me, than he that is in the world.”

The dragon in our house keeps re-appearing. Sometimes he’s a dinosaur. Sometimes he’s a bad guy. Sometimes he’s an alligator. I know he will appear in all kinds of forms to my son as he ages. For now, we keep rehearsing, “Don’t be afraid, my son, I’m with you. We stand together.”

Maybe, if we rehearse this often enough, we’ll both learn to play our parts with boldness. Maybe, if we keep practicing standing up to the dragons, we will learn to carry ourselves like the overcomers we are.

No, in our house, dragons will not have the last say. In our house, dragons are the ones who must flee.

Maybe all of us could use a little rehearsing.

 
Like what you’re reading? Consider subscribing to get these posts to your inbox and also check out my book for expectant moms: Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting, a perfect gift for any expecting mom you know. You can read an excerpt of the book here. And find out what writers like Ann Voskamp are saying about the book. Or if you’d like to read similar posts to this, check out “The Interrupted Life,” “Embrace Your Season” and “Not Enough“. Thanks for reading and sharing with your friends.

WaitingWonder

Not Enough

Contemplative key of d

 

When your belly’s beginning to bulge with new life, and you’re having one of those days where you can’t put the baby down without him bursting into tears, and the bigger one is refusing to sit on the potty, or take a nap, or eat his dinner, you sometimes wonder deep down if you really have what it takes to mother another little life.

This was a fear I wrestled with during my last pregnancy. I know other mamas wonder if they’ll have enough love for a new baby—that question never once plagued me. My question was always, “Am I enough to mother this one and that one and be a good wife and do all the other things I feel called to do?”

While this question still pops up every now and again (like today in the middle of my toddler’s ear infection and my big boy’s will-wielding), I’m glad God clearly showed me the answer to this during my last pregnancy. When I asked Him through the tears one night, big with new life, scared to death of what was to come, my seemingly simple question, “Am I enough?” He didn’t exactly answer with the reassurance I was hoping to find. He answered, “No, my child. You’re not enough.”

He whispered to my heart the truth: You’re not enough to fill these little ones with all they will ever need. You’re not enough to mother them without failing them often. And no, there won’t be enough of you to go around, nor will there be enough of you left when the day is done.

You are not enough for them and you aren’t enough for your husband and you aren’t enough even for yourself. You—the one I myself fashioned and formed in your mother’s womb—you were made dependent. You were made needy. You were made to find your completion and wholeness and strength and power only in Me.

If you were enough for these little ones, they would never sense their need of Me. If you never failed them or let them down, they would put you in my place, and they would never sense their longing for Me. If there was enough of you for them, they would not learn their need of Me and of the community for which I fashioned them. If there was enough of you left at the end of the day, you would never turn to Me at all, but you would rest in your self-sufficiency and languish in your loneliness.

So don’t worry my child, you won’t be enough. But I will be. I will be enough to meet their needs. I will be enough love for them. I will be enough to always hold them and never let them go. I will be enough to never fail them. I will be enough to go around. I will be enough when the day is done. And when eternity dawns, I will be enough.

And I will be enough for you too, my beloved daughter. I will be your strength when you feel you have nothing left to give. I will be your love when you feel bone dry. I will be your patience when you’ve lost every last bit. I will be your resting place when all you need is someone just to care for you. I will be enough for you.

Listen my child:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9 a)

And I agreed with the saints of old:
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9 b)

And this is my prayer for you, dear reader, because all of us no matter our calling in life wrestle with this question:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,” (Eph. 1:18-20, bold mine).

I pray that as you look squarely at your insufficiency that your eyes will also be opened to His incomparably great power—a power that raised Christ from the dead—that is available and alive in you if you belong to Christ. By His strength, and in your weakness, His power will be made perfect in you for whatever task He calls you to do. Rest in that and not in some false notion of your own strength and abilities. You are not enough. But He is and He will manifest that power through you if you turn to Him in your weakness.

 

Like what you’re reading? Consider getting a copy of my new devotional journal for expectant mothers: Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting. It’s the perfect gift for that baby shower or new mom you know who needs encouragement. And with Mother’s Day right around the corner, what better excuse to shower some mama you know with a little extra love.

Graveside: Resurrection Sunday

Risen

Along the seam of time
And eternity, there is a tear.
Along the fault line of temporal
And everlasting, there is a rupture.
A sliver of sky, a gash in the earth,
The size of a single human soul.

On the outer rim of beauty,
On the cusp of consciousness,
Between wakefulness and sleep
Is the waking wonder of a hope
Beyond dreaming.

It is a glimpse of the long-awaited.
It is a sigh of rest–
An unbreakable wholeness,
An impenetrable wellness,
An impermeable happiness,
An unstoppable rightness.

Somewhere on the outer rim of beauty,
Somewhere on the cusp of consciousness,
Somewhere between wakefulness and sleep,
The reality of a dream is dawning,
Breaking time with eternal light.
A first gleam growing brighter,
Across the horizon,
Beauty bleeding in the color of resurrected life.

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