I don't get any medals in my life and work. I will not win any academy awards. There won't be a Nobel peace prize in my future and when I leave this world I'll be surprised if anyone outside of a small circle of family and friends knows my name.
My bank account is empty, my house is perpetually a disaster, and I have mounds of grad school work left to do at the end of each day.
But I don't need any of that to change to bring meaning to my life. None of those things will give an ounce more weight to my life. Perhaps my circumstances changing could make things easier. But that will not make my life more full. Perhaps fame, or recognition or published books could make me happier for a moment, wealthier for a moment or cause my name to live beyond my last drawn breath. But I'm not here to ensure that I'm wealthy or well known.
I know why I'm here and that is to love.
Tonight after 5 hours of my children running to their hearts' content at the pool, blessing after blessing was heaped upon me. My daughter fell asleep on the way home from the pool as she is wont to do. She was tuckered clean out. And she was a glorious beauty. Those are ovary ache moments. When everything within you cries out that this is what you are meant to do. This person that I'm staring at, I am here to give her life. To love her, care for her, nourish her soul and protect her. She is part of my purpose.
Still wet from her swimsuit I scooped her up out of her carseat wrapped her in a quilt and tried to put her down in her momma's favorite chair. She snapped up yelling 'I don't want to leave the water' and promptly fell right back asleep. She's wonderful.
Later in the evening as my boys are bounding around their bedroom happily playing with one another (with an energy that cannot possibly be explained) one brother kicks another and injures his sibling's baby toe. Momma swoops in again, kissing boo boos, wiping away tears and returning with aloe for sunburnt cheeks and chocolate milk for hurt little feelings. Again the ache, again the blessing, again the entirety of my being cries out: THIS IS WHY YOU'RE HERE!
And then baby girl awakens, disoriented by the time of day and the impending twilight but at peace because she's home and safe and with her family. I feed her, finally unpeel the half dried out swimsuit off her body and begin to put her in her pjs. But the shirt is wrong she needs her tinker bell shirt. Only the words she uses to describe that sound nothing like tinker bell and I have no idea what she's talking about. We walk to her bedroom hand in hand and I finally figure out what she's asking for. Disaster looms because it's in the dirty laundry but I happen to find a perfectly soft shirt for her. It's light blue and hasn't a trace of Disney character anywhere on it. But it's soft and perfect for her itchy skin. She's happy with her momma. And me?
I feel like I lassoed the moon.
I choose to step over toys in their room trading clean up for extra snuggles and kisses. I decide to cherish the time I have with them and take an extra look at the mess, thinking to myself "this is my life, and it is good."
I may never go on to do anything great. I may be mediocre in my career and a terrible house keeper forever, but if I can find the right blue shirt at the end of the day and kiss all the boo boos away? Then I'll take it. Because this life, it is good.
That is not to say that all of my life is kissing boo boos and finding the right shirt. Earlier this week my life was overflowing toilets and mispurposed oranges into balls for an indoor game of catch. I considered daycare for all of them at that moment. I am human and every mother has her limit. But today was a grace, a gift, and a redemption. Of course, parenting is atrociously difficult at times. More so when you're doing all of it single-handedly and there aren't any medals or award ceremonies in the future for me.
I need to remind myself, and maybe you as well. That if you stop expecting life to be good, it will stop seeming like it is good. It's not the circumstances. If you improve here, move here, become a better spouse or get a better spouse, get a better job or church or win the lottery, none of those things are going to change how you view your life. You have to change it now.
My life has sucked, I have had every possible reason to bitch. I have bitched. I have to get it out. But then I stop bitching at some point and I move on, because I realize that to embrace that attitude as if it is the entire truth of my life is to allow all the joy to be taken from my life by choice.
Let me say that another way:
If you choose to continually view your life negatively, your life will be negative, always no matter what.
You have to change how you think about it now, in your present circumstance. This is what contentment is. It's not a magic pill, it's not some super spiritual level of enlightenment, it's not more of anything earthly. It is: taking stock of your life as it is now. Being honest with yourself and with God about how you really feel about it. And then letting yourself see the good.
There is no need to ignore the bad. There is no need to stifle the tears when they come. There is no need to stop being honest about the crap people do to you. Be honest, sit with yourself and your maker in those moments. Let the feelings come, but then if you can, try to let them pass. If you need to carry them for a while that's okay but try to watch your spirit for a readiness to lay them down. And even if you're still carrying them, watch for the good. Be willing to see it. Life is never all good or all bad. Let God show you the gifts he's giving you today. Be thankful and grateful if you can, even after you've steam cleaned carpets because of a rogue three year old.
Much Love - Shannon