Today's reverb prompt: Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?
This year I learned that I really do love being a woman. Yep ... kind of weird, I know. I've been a woman (well, at least a female) for all of my 28 years, and it's taken this long to realize that I'm really grateful that I am one. Now, don't get me wrong ... I've never struggled with gender identity issues (the counselor in me is forcing me to make that disclaimer), but I've often found myself feeling frustrated about my role, or the role I feel God is calling me to? I'm not even sure what I'm trying to say. Some examples will probably make more sense: I used to REALLY want to work in youth ministry, but it made me frustrated that I knew I'd really only be able to do that for a few years before I'd have kids and then by the time my kids were grown I'd be too old (at least I think I'd feel to old) to work in youth ministry. I wrote earlier in the month about my desire to get my PhD. I used to get frustrated that I had to think about how doing that would fit around starting/raising a family. I suppose if I was very career-driven I wouldn't have had some of the angst that I've experienced in this regard; but I'm not. I love to learn and I love to work with organizations and young people, but I have always felt that when I have children it is important for me to be at home with them as much as possible. To make home a special place: a place with warm cookies and days at the playground and snuggles and books in bed. The kind of place I was raised in, the kind of place that can only happen if one of the parents is pouring most of her energy into creating it.
I used to be frustrated that I had these conflicting desires: to advance, (to be completely honest) to keep up with the guys in my field; yet also to raise a family and to be deeply committed to our home life. I used to think it must be so much easier to just be a man. The men I see who are committed to providing for their family seem to have the freedom to charge ahead in their areas of work-related interest. I know men have tons of pressure and responsibility they deal with, so I'm not saying my musings when I've been frustrated in the past are reality, just my musings. Anyway, all of this to say, this year I've learned that I love being a woman.
Sure, I'll think it's pretty neat someday if I get to get that doctorate degree, or write a book, or teach some classes. I've learned, though, that the call to worship the Lord through late night feedings, singing little songs about how great God is, and through teaching a young heart how to trust and depend on a provider is a call I can't even believe I'm so privileged to have. It's so amazing (and heavy) to realize that I am teaching my son through EVERYTHING I do. I get to teach him joyful contentment when we play and sing while I fold clothes or wash dishes. I get to teach him how to submit to God-given authorities when he sees me get on board with Josh's plans. I get to teach him that God made him unique and for a special purpose when I delight in the things he loves and encourage him to pursue them. I get to teach him to be a good steward of God's gifts when I give him healthy food to eat, or put cardboard in the recycling bin, or buy cheaper brands so we can give more. (Another disclaimer: I'm not saying I'm awesome, or even good, at doing all of this stuff now; I'm just saying it is stuff I get to do).
As I move forward into 2011, I will apply my new-found appreciation for my womanhood by continuing to look for the teachable moments and the hidden significance in everything I do. Not, hopefully, out of a need to make myself feel important and significant; but so that I can model to a little pair of bright blue eyes what Paul meant when he said, "whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)