My mom sent me this devotion just a few days ago (emphases mine):
“And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.” 1 Chronicles 29:19 (NIV)
Cheri handed my crying baby to me, his little eyes swollen, his sobs subsiding into gulping sighs. Within seconds, Robbie calmed as I nuzzled him and kissed his sweet face.
I hugged my friend and thanked her for trying again to watch Robbie while I went back to work part-time. Again, my son refused a bottle and cried constantly. We both knew this wasn’t going to work.
Forcing a smile, I turned quickly so she wouldn’t see my tears. By the time I got to the car, I could hold them back no longer. Securing my son, I slipped in the driver’s seat, put my head on the steering wheel and wept.
He was my third child, so I thought I had the mommy-thing figured out. Only Robbie didn’t have the same personality or needs of his older brothers. They’d taken bottles easily. But this child had a unique bond with me.
Not only that, but we couldn’t just sit together; I had to be walking and rocking him. If that boy was awake, he needed to touch me and be moving, or the crying began.
My older sons, ages 2 and 4, weren’t the quiet type either. Other children kept occupied with a bag of toys, crayons or paper. Not mine.
My life changed dramatically with the birth of my third son. As a result, I made the difficult decision to quit many things I enjoyed: my part-time job, leading children’s ministry and teaching Bible study to name a few. Most days I just felt sad as the world seemed to pass me by.
A highlight was picking up a dozen donuts and a Diet Coke and heading to Cheri’s house. She was the only friend who could tolerate my three rowdy children. And she also understood that Diet Coke offsets the calories in the donuts. The perfect friend!
I loved those little boys immensely. And not a day passed that I didn’t thank God for them. But I grieved what I’d left behind, and that grieving affected my enjoyment of the present.
I missed having position and authority at work. I longed for the sense of completion. Sadly, I thought my “ministry” was outside my home, and wondered when God would use me again.
Thankfully God intervened in a dramatic way, and I came to understand and appreciate the calling and cost of motherhood. God changed my heart and priorities, and the rewards have far outweighed the sacrifices. But it was still hard.
Recently, God brought those difficult years to mind as I read 1 Chronicles 28 and 29.
These chapters record King David passing his crown and assignment to build God’s temple to his son, Solomon. In this decision, David gave up his position, authority, respect and purpose.
Did David mope and moan? Did he grab donuts and diet soda with a friend? No, the Bible tells us David “praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly” (1 Chronicles 29:10).
What follows is one of the most beautiful, humble prayers in the Bible. David’s gracious actions and adoration for God inspired and moved hearts in the Jewish people.
After praying, Scripture tells us David invited the people to praise God: “So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the LORD and the king” (1 Chronicles 29:20).
What a vivid contrast between my response and King David’s when each of us gave up something we loved. David didn’t grip the past tightly; he opened his hands and heart to embrace what God was doing in the present.
I can’t go back to those early years, but with God’s help and David’s example, I can change how I respond in the future.
David had cultivated a life of praise, so when faced with loss, that habit elevated his response. David’s trust in God was so great that he joyfully supported others who would build the temple he longed to build.
As I’ve addressed this personally, I’ve discovered praising God is at the center of contentment. As we praise Him, we find the assurance that He’s got things covered … even babies who cry inconsolably and our longing for significance.
It’s there, in knowing God sees us and hasn’t forgotten us, we find peace.
And it’s there, in every walking-rocking-sleepless night, we find purpose.
My season of life is different now, but I’m still faced with saying “goodbye” to things I love. That “little” boy moves away to college next month, and I’m praying for an attitude like King David’s — full of praise, grace and generosity of heart.
Deciding to stay home was an easy and a difficult decision for me. It was easy to say yes to being with lovely little Mae all the time. It was difficult to leave behind the work and using my skills to benefit others.
What I didn’t expect was feeling so… left behind. So… useless.
I started a daycare to help make up the income we needed and have since learned that I know so little about kids. It’s kind of like being mom to 1 1/2 kids. I’ve been having a very difficult filling the other spots I have, which is surprising to me living in such a large area. I thought I would be turning people away, “sorry I’m full”. I’ve had several interviews and home visits and such, each ending with people choosing to take their kids somewhere else for care.
After feeling bad about it for a while, a question came to my head: Is this because my daycare/qualifications/whatever are undesirable OR is this God providing me an opportunity to explore other avenues for income and fulfillment?
Recently I helped out a friend of a friend by doing some painting in their house. I enjoy painting. Other people don’t. I was able to bless this family who needed it done quickly, I got out of the house for a while, my family survived without me around, I actually felt great about doing it (even though I’m a little sore today), and I made a bit of money. Is this the opportunity? Do I have interests, skills, and talents that can bless the lives of other people and make us a small amount of income each month? Would having additional daycare kids dramatically change the good thing we have going on right now with our schedules – both in the morning before she comes and during the day while she’s here? And would that change be good or bad? Do I have other skills and talents that I can use outside of a work setting to benefit others?
In church, Jon (the pastor) has been sharing how to live a significant life. The key theme I’m seeing is “remember that it’s not all about you”. Yes, I have sacrificed what seems like a lot to stay home and raise my little girl and be with the dogs. But it’s not all about me. These little ones that depend on me are getting the BEST of me, the MOST of me. I don’t have to pay someone else to help raise my kid and my dogs aren’t in a kennel all day. There is something very glorious about that. There is something godly about that. Gloriously sacrificial.
Sure, maybe I feel like things would be better or I would be happier doing things a different way, but I know this is where I’m supposed to be. I know that I am supposed to be taking care of my house, home, and family. I have the blessing of this still being those early years, where I can let go of feeling like I’m missing out and find ways to continue to bless others by sharing my skills and talents. By opening my home to other moms and their kids to play when they can. By opening my home to other people’s dogs when they need to be watched. By sharing my painting, sewing, and yarn work skills. By cultivating a home full of love, understanding, and piles of dog fur. By remembering what is important and what is not. By remembering that God sees me, God knows me, God will provide and open the doors that lead me closer to him and further from myself.