Yesterday Chad’s screams of distress hastily called my attention. I found him trapped by his own doing. He had found an electronic toy map of the U.S. that you could press buttons and learn info about the various states. One foot had gotten underneath the toy, but when he leaned forward to press the buttons he was squishing his toes. In his pain, he couldn’t figure out that if he just stopped pushing on the game that he’d stop squishing his toes!
It got me thinking about other facets of life. How often do we “trap” ourselves and inadvertently cause ourselves pain? We’re too wrapped up in our misery to recognize that if we would just let go (or stop pushing forward in one direction) that the pain would let up.
I know that I foolishly and stubbornly do this too often. Lately my self-inflicted pain has come from the topic of teaching.
I’ve been happy as a clam at home, raising my little Chad and taking care of the home front (or at least unsuccessfully trying to). All of a sudden, however, our 5th grade teacher announced that she would be moving and teaching in Florida next year. Being that her current position was basically what I had done when I taught at our school (except that I taught third grade, not fifth), immediately the thought of teaching again popped in my head–out of left field. Suddenly I couldn’t STOP thinking about it–and it didn’t help when I would hear that someone else had thought of me stepping in to be 5th grade teacher, school accompanist, and organist.
Then Chad adopted a screaming phase, which began to really get on my nerves. The daily emptying of the cupboards really started to make my blood simmer. I became pretty unhappy “just being mom” as I daydreamed about how we could build Chad a bedroom with my income if I got to teach, and how much I loved to teach, and how I had wanted to teach longer and do so much more in the classroom, but then was expecting Olivia.
Now, I recognize that just a couple years back I WAS teaching. And, there were really good things about my part-time piano teaching position. The truth is that I don’t love teaching piano the way I love teaching reading and writing. I feel so ALIVE in the classroom, teaching those subjects. And Word of God! That’s the best!
Sometimes at home it is so easy to feel unimportant. I clean up after Chad countless times a day, but the end of the day comes and I have nothing to show for it. The house is messy (again). Toddlers can be little tornadoes of destruction! At such times, it is easy to feel defeated. I try to do things that fail miserably because he threw a tantrum or followed me around, crying to be held, or because he is working at his coordination and is clumsy and is forever hurting himself and NEEDS comforting. I like to be productive, and there certainly are moments when the fact that I am so infrequently very productive just starts to really upset me. What good is it? I wonder.
In my heart, I know that the moments when I hear Chad finally say the new word we have been working on, or feel him pat my back when I pick him up for a hug, or see that smile when I come to get him after his nap makes it all worth it…but sometimes those moments are few and far between the screaming, crying, and mess, and it gets tricky to hang on.
That’s where a servant’s heart comes into the picture. Why AM I here at home? Where is my “self” in the grand scheme of things?
Besides, I realize that even IF I taught and we had enough money to do something about Chad not having a bedroom that new problems would come into the picture. Such is the way of life on this sinful planet with us sinful, selfish people. We are ever-seeking, not often satisfied.
When I try to shut off all these ponderings, evaluations, and just tell myself that I don’t know God’s plans for me, to quit meddling, to stop trying to understand, and just let it all unfold…well, being an imperfect human the “best” way I can do that is often to just go a bit numb. My personality goes flat. I’m matter-of-fact. Maybe I lack empathy.
But God doesn’t tell us in His Word how He’s going to work things out for us, and what’s the best route for our earthly lives. We DO have to use the minds he’s given us to make decisions. I told myself that if my place was in the classroom that people from the congregation would inquire about me. And, my name did get brought up, but it didn’t go very far. I appreciate that I was thought of. Serving God in the classroom setting WOULD be great….but not any more noble than serving God here at home being Chad’s mommy. Being Chad’s mom doesn’t make me any money, but “money isn’t everything”. Money can complicate life, too. In truth, there probably IS no “right” or “wrong”. I could serve God in either capacity, and I could also fail in either. What probably matters is wanting to be (and working at being) faithful in my current capacity. What comfort it is to know that He will bless my feeble efforts for my eternal good! May that truth truly motivate me and uphold me (as Chad screams and dumps things and chases after me)!