A woman who intends to become a nun is asking the Internet for the money to pay off her student loans so she can devote her life to Jesus. “I love the idea of being able to live for Christ with an undivided heart,” which is a beautiful thing, and I wish more would acquire that desire.
But I’m also working through ugly old jealousy over this idea, this setting apart oneself for some special life or plan, which insinuates that the rest of us, we laypersons, should be content with the everyday.
Someone’s got to fold the kids’ socks, I suppose.
This unease of mine brings up a question of identity, and I don’t mean the spiritual “I am a child of God” stuff, because I am, I get that; it blows my mind and stretches my imagination. It does.
God landed a message in my ears on this topic with His perfect timing. The pastor, my long-distance pastor, spoke of what it means to be set apart. His message, which can be heard in its entirety here, reflects so well my tension of finding adventures in the everyday while remembering not to lose the plot amid the parts of our lives “they don’t write books about.”
His words: We are all set apart. All of us.
God does the setting apart, and He calls the shots. But we’re required to respond. We’re invited to be active participants in our transformations, and those transformations begin in the heart, not the head. We can’t study our way closer to God. We can just spend some time knowing that God had something in mind for us when He created us. “This isn’t just for Paul, or the superheroes of the Bible.” This is all of us.
We’re forced, in that framework, to ask who we think we are, and if we need to give up that identity to embrace the plan God intended for us.
You know, easy stuff.
Right. Ask: Who am I? How would I define myself to someone I just met?
I’ve been introduced recently as a “homeschooling mom of three.” I was not the author of that phrase, and only in hindsight does it seem abrasive. But why does it? Why?
Because it doesn’t seem epic enough? Because I can see in others’ faces images of long jean skirts and banana hair clips and doilies and things I’m not? Because it reminds me that I’ve given up freely the other titles I’d defined myself by, and haven’t yet lived all the way into my story enough to know how this ends? Because I have dreams?
How do I respond and move forward when I find myself jealous of a woman who wants to go all-in for her Church, or people choosing more obviously epic stuff over folding an epic pile of socks?
Because, you know, wait, aren’t I already all in? I said yes to this life of faith … Isn’t that epic?
Haven’t I begun, with choosing to forgo the lifestyle a two-income family afforded us? With leaving my church in Wisconsin to land someplace in Michigan where I’m known just as that one homeschooling mom? Sprinting after the abundant life?
If my daily response to being God’s set-apart person is “Thank you. Now what would you have me do today?”, and if God’s daily response is “Well, let’s do some laundry again. Let’s read a fairy tale and put a toddler in a time out, and then let’s go to bed by 9 p.m.,” then I have to be OK with that. And when an adventure comes up, I will choose “yes.”
But I crave people around me who know that this simple life? This is epic enough. Because it is. Epic can be simple. But no one here’s talking about this. I need others.
This is not about dismantling careers so I can have more moms to hang out with — No. God sets us all apart for different things.
No. No. I only pray for understanding and courage to live into these two things:
1. For our family, parenthood IS the epic adventure, and
2. Parenthood makes the most sense when other shared adventures are happening alongside our everyday. Transformations don’t cease, so when God asks me to give up the “homeschooling mom of three” label, I’ll see how He was preparing me for the next thing all along.
We are all, always, becoming something else.
Lord, give me the peace and patience to thank you for other people’s stories, and all the different types of stories you author. And then be my own imagination, and use my story to move yours, which is always epic and simple, simple and epic.