Some days I wonder if the roles I fill were really meant for me.
With no degree to back up my skills, the qualifications of my existence come only from life experience:
First: Daughter. As my parents age and years seem to fly, I am seeing them for who they are more clearly than ever. There are still so many stories that I don’t know. So many memories that are already lost. And it makes me sad. As a teenage daughter, I think I was too self-focused. As a young married daughter, I was too distracted (and lived too far away). As a daughter who has her own children and grandchildren I have been pre-occupied and busy.
And now I wonder how much time I have left with them.
It is not as though I have ignored them or avoided them. I really do try. It’s just that it feels like the song, Cat’s in the Cradle plays over and over in my head…
“When you coming home, son? I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then. You know we’ll have a good time then.”
Second: Wife. Sure, I read the books. Five Love Languages, Intended for Pleasure, and The Power of a Praying Wife. I have read the Song of Solomon many times (the Bible’s very own book on romantic love), 1 Corinthians 13 (the “love” chapter), and Ephesians 5 (the often controversial chapter on the husband/wife’s role in marriage).
But still. I was way unprepared. I didn’t have a clue how hard or how wonderful it would be. My naivety was a gift in some ways, but almost tragical in others. Entering into the role of wife was by far the hardest thing I’d ever done, and this commitment of life-long love is easily the most demanding. Walking away from selfish goals or desires, a healthy marriage requires a 100% “I’m going to do whatever it takes to have a strong, vibrant marriage!” I want to honor the Lord by honoring my husband. I want to take into serious consideration this vow I’ve made–this gift that I’ve been given, and continue to work on being the best wife I can be.
Third: Mom. Well. You know. If you have children, you know that all those books you read on parenting didn’t even come close. This job is way too big to be contained in novels. I cared for other people’s children before I had my own and, well, you know. It’s never the same. And no two children are the same, so just when you think you might have it figured out, along comes another one and it’s way different. Even two of the same gender. I had four little personalities that seemed to challenge my pre-conceived ideas–and though they won over my heart, it blew my mind to see how different they could be from each other. You would think genetics would give me a break! Then, about the time that things get a little smoother, they leave. Letting go starts with that first day of school and those strings get stretched thinner and thinner until you see that final break. And you know that it will never be the same. No turning back. No starting over. So you pray. Hard. That they will learn from your mistakes and failures (and their own) and far surpass the hopes and dreams that you have for them.
Fourth: Nana. Everything they said about being a grandparent is true. It is absolutely the best. You adore them, spoil them, and send them home. They delight you, surprise you, and fill your heart with joy. You get to watch your children parent–and grin as they go through some of the same struggles that you did. The unconditional love of these precious littles will string you along and wrap you around their little finger as you go to the ends of the earth just to put a smile on their face. Oh, and you hurt for them just as much if not more than you did for your own children. Somebody forgot to tell me the hard parts. They get hurt, and they get sick. They cry, they are sad, and they melt your heart when they want to stay, but can’t because they have school the next day. Yep. They grow up, too. The hugs and kisses and “nana cuddles” turn into high-fives and awkward hugs. And the letting go starts all over again…
Fifth: Pastor’s Wife. This one really knocked me down. I had no clue–still don’t. Luckily, my husband is of the opinion that I am supposed to just.be.me. My pre-conceived ideas were clearly out of focus, and the hundreds of others who have pre-conceived ideas about what a pastor’s wife is supposed to be would be equally as surprised to find out that there is no cookie cutter for that role. I love that my husband has never based my worth on a degree or accomplishment. I know that as unqualified as I might seem, the role of pastor’s wife was given to me only through osmosis. He was called. I am married to him, and am called to be his help-mate and his companion on this journey. No one can love my pastor like I can. I cannot minister to every person in our church, but I can minister to the one who is chosen to lead them. As daunting as it seems sometimes, I know that I play a role in that. Without a stable home and a loving, supportive wife, his ministry could very well be hindered. The attacks that come from within and from without seem far less threatening when we battle them together in prayer. I love the Lord, I love my husband, and in loving him, I know that God is pleased.
I know that I am not “qualified”. I also know that when I am weak, He is strong. He is able, even when I feel I could never fill the shoes He gave me.
Here is what I know: this is a privilege–to be a daughter, wife and a mom, a nana and pastor’s wife. To set an example of what it means to follow Jesus in my home. To show unconditional love to my tribe. To be faithful for a lifetime.
Without Him, it would be a sobering task.
I love this passage from the book of Acts. It encourages me when I feel weak. I pray that “being me” means that I fill these roles in the same God-honoring way:
I know there are many of you that are in my shoes. Your parents are ailing, aging. Some of you are fostering children or have a child with disabilities. Life is so complicated and sometimes you feel totally inept. Be encouraged today! You are not alone. God is faithful and He will be your constant companion and guide. Trust Him. Lean on Him. Know that He is for you.
**This post was shared at the Salt and Light Facebook Link-up