“I hope you’re happy. I think you’re wasting your talents.”
These are the words that I remember hearing as I drove my green minivan down the highway one day with my four young kids in tow. I was on my cell phone excited to share the news of my 5th pregnancy with someone who was close to me. These are the words that I heard on the other end of the line. They hurt. They stung. They were heartbreaking and discouraging. I was also disgusted. Angry.
As tears filled my eyes, all I could muster up to say was, “Of course I am. I’ve got to go.”
The other day I was having a conversation with my adult firstborn son, who now has a brood of his own. We were talking about the phenomenon that began happening on social media during the pandemic. The phenomenon of the number of people who were complaining about spending time with their kids. Of being with them 24/7. Of just simply parenting their children.
My words that day to him, “You can’t treat what God calls a blessing, like a curse. If you do, you’re wrong.”
As a culture, too often, we portray motherhood as something that holds you back. Something that keeps you from achieving your goals. There are of course many ways that being a mom changes your day-to-day priorities. We want to make our mark on the world, make a difference. The world wrongly tends to teach that marriage and motherhood hinders both.
But what is our purpose as Christians? Christian wives? Christian mothers?
It is easy to place too much emphasis on our personal giftedness, our talents. Scripture teaches that God is the giver of our talents. But more importantly, I think, Scripture teaches us the purpose of our giftedness and talents. All of our talents are given to glorify the gifter. All are given to glorify God himself. To build His church.
Thus, there is no way that a life given over in obedience to Him is ever wasted. Because not only is He the giver of talents and giftedness, He is the giver of opportunity to use them.
A few years back, I began to feel an uneasiness about my life. I’m sure part of that feeling came from getting older. But my uneasiness stemmed from a wrong way of thinking. Comparisons have always been a problem for me. They still are, but by God’s grace, I am slowly learning and maturing in this area of my life. I started looking around and thinking, what have I REALLY done in life? And that’s when the incessant, joy-stealing comparisons took root.
Now, mind you, I’ve been a staff/pastor’s wife for about 25 years. Some would say, that “I live my life in a fishbowl”. I had a friend in college who was fond of saying, “Those who live in glass houses, should not throw stones.” I have definitely found that to be true in the glass house that I live in. It is, in some ways, how it should be, we are to be an example. We are scripturally held to a stricter standard. And thankfully, we serve a gracious church! Our church family is so good to me and my family! But there are challenges, nonetheless.
These comparative thoughts began to intrude on my heart and mind. As I sought to battle them, what I became increasingly aware of, is that I had become complacent in my daily, consistent time in God’s word. I had let this wrong way of thinking overtake me, because I had put down my weapon.
So I began studying, thinking, writing down what the Lord was teaching me. Reading and studying by myself and with others, whole books of the Bible. Now, my Father helped me along. During this time He also gave me a personal thorn in the flesh. But through this thorn, I gained confidence, not in myself, but in Him. Since I was not setting a priority on my quiet time, He did it for me through this thorn.
My Father has been teaching me a lot. A lot about Him. I am learning a lot about myself and other people. I am seeing more clearly. I am thankful.
One thing that I have been seeing more clearly is to rest in His sovereign control and to look for and take advantage of opportunities that He gives. To fight to look at opportunities not as the world defines them, but as He does. The Gospel accounts of Jesus’s everyday life remind me that in each encounter, big or small, large groups or small groups, Jesus saw the hearts of people. The seemingly small interactions with one or two people carried just as much weight as His large crowd teaching. He took advantage of every opportunity His Father gave Him to show others how to be reconciled to God. We are to do the same as we point others to Christ and how through Him they can be reconciled to God.
In a book on wisdom that I recently read, the author states, Wisdom is recognizing that Jesus is everything! I believe this is true. When we speak, act and live – whatever we are doing – Jesus is everything!
The wisdom of the world that was spoken harshly that day almost 17 years ago hurt. It has been forgiven. Thankfully, it was not heeded. For I see God’s goodness in our 4 youngest image bearers who came after that conversation: Susannah (5th), Sarah Hope (6th), Phoebe (7th), and AnnaBeth (8th).
These 8 blessings, image-bearers, that my husband and I have been entrusted with require all my talents, giftedness, intellect, etc. In fact, it is through caring for them, disciplining them, discipline them, talking to them, serving them, teaching them, that I have learned, grown, and changed for the good.
What I am saying is this…God is sovereign. He knows what’s best for me and He knows what’s best for you. Whatever you are facing, if you’re a Christian, you can trust that it is God’s best for you. His best for your growth, maturity, usefulness, kingdom building…
He is the giver of all good gifts. He has given you good gifts if you will only have eyes to see. Whether that be talents, opportunities, or children. I am simply called to faithfulness and Jesus-reflecting self-sacrifice in my life. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about me anyway. It’s all about Him, because Jesus is everything! And yes, I am happy.