Today I visited with an older lady who felt compelled to share with me the story of her husband’s passing. I lifeguard at a pool where a lot of water walking and water aerobics take place, so there is a plethora of older folks looking for a listening ear, and I’m glad to provide it. She told me about how quickly it happened for them – how they went to the doctor because he had a strange lump above his belly button and within a month he had been diagnosed with cancer and she was standing at his funeral – just shy of their 50th wedding anniversary. This was ten years ago, so she wasn’t sad anymore, per say, but I could hear the sting in her voice, the way a thing that hurts hard in the beginning hurts less five or ten years later but still makes the scar smart, like phantom pain.
And it got me to thinking about several things. If suddenly I discovered that my days on this earth were devastatingly shorter than originally expected, what would I trim down to? What would the bare minimum, most important things be for me to embrace and pour my last days into? I know it sounds morbid, but it also seems wise to me – to make a list of what would matter the very most were my days cut short.
It was an easy list to make, really.
- Extended family
That’s it. These are the things that carry the heaviest weight in my life and in my heart, but I rarely behave like it. Four of the six items on my list are individual people who I have nearly unlimited access to on a daily basis. These four souls are what I wish I could write on insurance and doctor’s forms when they ask for my profession. Instead I write “Homemaker” and sound like I eat bon bons all day. That’s fine. I don’t do it for the bon bons or for their approval. But if I could, I think I would just like to start writing, “These four souls.”
These four souls who I share a space with, who I throw up with, and cry with, and dance with, and am honest with. After Jesus, these four souls matter more than anything or anyone else. More than my neighbors, more than my church, more than anything. They are God’s most obvious assignments in my life. When I wonder, “What should I be doing?” They are His loudest and most pronounced, “This.” He has answered me by giving them to me…my greatest blessings and my most profound challenges.
These four souls who are direct answers to my most earnest prayers – who exist in my life because God willed it to be so – because He said, “Yes,” to Josh and Emily, to Adelle, to Marilee, to Jude. And He said, “No,” to two other babies in between. They are here and they are mine to serve because God said, “Yes.”
These four souls who lean on me for support and guidance and unconditional everything.
These four souls who look to me for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and every other ounce of food they consume.
These four souls who come to believe what they do – at least in part – about the character of Christ because of how well, or how poorly, I serve them.
These four souls who are protected, successful, and nurtured because I do the boldest, most powerful thing I can do – because I bring them to the feet of Jesus over and over again in prayer.
What if I treated homemaking like it was my job and I was very, very serious about it? What if I stopped acting like Esau, ready to give up God’s most obvious assignment because seriously, that’s nice and all but doing ANYTHING without my children around sounds way better right now?
What if I joyfully and fearlessly pursued my marriage and my mothering?
The holiness of our families is sacred ground, friends. It seems that maybe we have gotten so caught up in being “real” about how hard motherhood is that we have forgotten its holiness.
Let’s take that back, shall we? Let’s fall back in love with mothering.