One of the questions I often get asked is, “are you a stay at home mom?” I’m guilty of asking questions like this too. I usually end up asking in some way or other, “What do you do?”
It’s an innocent query that comes up when you first meet someone, but it reduces who someone is to what they do.
There have been two major seasons in my life where I have had to grapple with and work through this issue. That what I do does not define who I am. It seems like a simple revelation, but walking it out is often a process.
The first time I felt convicted and struggled with this was during my second year of university and first year of marriage. My husband and I were married right after our first year of university. I was an American on a student visa living in Canada. We were married in May and because I couldn’t work until I had a permanent resident visa, I spent the whole summer in Toronto in a basement apartment venturing out to the grocery store and the library. We had barely any money and my husband worked two jobs while I stayed home and tried to keep myself busy with books.
For the first time in my life I wasn’t working. I found myself in a new place surrounded by new people, building new friendships, learning to navigate a different culture. It was uncomfortable and stretching. What rose to the surface was the fact that regardless of whether I was working or not, I had to be secure in who I was in Christ. I couldn’t compare myself to anyone else and what they were doing, but I needed to be at peace with the things God was teaching me and the things that I was passionate about. Sounds simple, right? It was incredibly painful and difficult, but it forced me to seek Jesus and taught me to trust Him in ways I had never known before.
The second time this hit me hard happened after I quit my job to stay home full time when Edith was 6 months old. I spent the first 2.5 years with my kids working part-time. I felt productive and happy working and being a mom. It was a huge transition. Comparison crept in again. I began to question and wonder whether I was doing enough, too much, too little. Not getting a pat on the back or affirmation for serving kids all day long is a hard bullet to bite sometimes. I felt like I was being left behind as everyone else was moving forward in her career, calling, gifting, ministry, etc.
One day, I woke up and was hit over the head with a mallet of revelation that what God required of me was to be faithful with what was in my world in that moment. Faithful to do the best I knew to do as a mom, faithful to be a friend who reached out to others, faithful to give what I had to friends, family, and neighbors, faithful to serve in the doors that were open to me. I stopped striving for opportunities and positions and started enjoying my place in my journey.
There are still hard days, but no matter what season of life I’m in some days are hard. It’s more about a perspective change than a circumstance change. It’s about being secure in the season and place we’re in rather than the position or title. Let’s remove comparison and competition and replace with it confidence and certainty in who we are not what we do.