When I was a teenager, I dreamed of doing “something big” for God. I would write that book; I would travel the world; I would speak before thousands at seminars; I would become the mentor that would impart godly wisdom. I was ready to soar for God’s glory.
Fifteen years later, married with four young sons, I sometimes feel that I am grounded, both physically and spiritually.
My aspirations are much less grandiose (and self-glorifying) now, but my desire to serve the Lord is still deep. Yet I often feel frustrated that my heart wants to offer so much more than the reality of my life allows me to give. After all, husband, home, and children take up most of my daily effort and energy.
I know I’m not alone. As I listen to my friends and read in the blogging world, I know that many women feel as I do. While I recognize my God-given roles as a wife and the mother of four young boys, I still have the ache to do something more.
Shouldn’t I just be content with the ministry of my family? What do we do when our desires to serve God are harnessed by the responsibilities of domestic life and motherhood?
I often don’t even know how to pray about this desire. So I don’t.
But God knew it anyways.
Unexpectedly, my old college roommate contacted me: “Let’s get together for coffee! I have something that I want to talk to you about.
During Silas’ naptime, we sat at my kitchen table and Sabrena told me about her MFA thesis, “The Lucky Ones” project: a set of three graphic novels, a la comic book style, to address human trafficking of American girls in the USA. The project, focused on education and prevention, was unique and inspiring. I was so excited for her.
But then, she asked me a surprising question.
“Would you consider being my writer for this project?”
I felt a shocking holiness in her question, almost like God was saying, “I see you. I know you can’t go overseas, or travel the country, or work for a non-profit, or do midnight counseling sessions in jail cells…but this. You can do this. I know your heart. I haven’t forgotten about you.”
That was two years ago. Since then, I have learned about the sobering, wretched reality of the human trafficking sex trade. I’ve written two stories for her project, and our team is hoping to do a third story in the future.
|The Lucky Ones team: Me, Sabrena, and Mike (our illustrator)|
It has been the most challenging project I have ever done. In fact, after writing two stories, I feel my psyche resisting, because plunging my mind and heart into this type of story telling once again is soul shocking, like jumping into the deep end of a freezing swimming pool and getting the wind knocked out of you as you struggle to keep your head above water.
During the research and writing process, my husband has shaken his head out of concern for me, saying, “I can tell you’re researching again. You’re in a dark place.”
The project has been difficult, but it has also been Good. Sabrena is about to defend her thesis. “The Lucky Ones” is a beautiful, powerful project that I pray will bring education and prevention to many, many people.
I got to be a small part of “something big.”
So what is the point of this story? I guess it’s this: God has not forgotten you.
As mothers, we often feel like our duty is to constantly meet the needs of others. There is holiness in this act of selflessness. Yet God cares about our needs as well.
He also cares about our desires.
As Jen Pollock Michel writes in her book Teach us to Want, “we discover that our desires are given by God—not in the sense of granted, but more in the sense of confided.”
I’m becoming more brave in telling God my desires these days. But, in reality, he already knows them, and he wants to give me so many Good Gifts.
In wrestling with my own frustration of balancing my personal wants and trusting God for his timing, I have quietly learned that God has not forgotten about my youthful desires to serve him. The first act of service is trust. As Michel writes, “Holy trust believes that whatever God chooses to give is enough.”
And God does give. The only thing left to do is say “yes” to these unexpected, surprising opportunities to serve, small as they may seem, in this season of limitations.