Wednesday, February 12, 2014

remembering who i am

I'm not gonna lie - adjusting to motherhood has been rough. Despite all the wisdom I'd received prior to having this baby about how I needed to be prepared to not believe the lies, I've found myself believing them anyway: lies that I'm not cut out for this, lies that I'm going to fail (overall, not just here and there), lies that I'm completely inept at Life in General, and therefore have no business caring for another little person's Life in General... I've heard them all in my spirit, and have believed them more times than not. I'm an extremely insecure person, and nothing has brought these insecurities to the surface more than having this sweet baby in my care. Am I doing this right? Is she eating enough? Is she sleeping too much during the day? Should we be on a schedule by now? Is this amount of spit up normal? How will I get this house cleaned, dinner made, laundry folded? It can be dizzying, and has left me in a mess of tears on a fairly regular basis.

And then Saturday happened. My church life group women - Stacy, Jenn, Michelle, Sara and I - met at Panera for a glorious hour of Truth and coffee. We all shared our struggles - many of which were centered in motherhood - and out of that communion I found a lot of reassurance, joy, and freedom from the lies. I was reminded that everyone doubts themselves - especially in parenting; that God made each of us unique, and therefore asks different things from each of us in terms of how we parent, how we manage our homes, and how we commune with Him; and I was reminded how important it is to just do what I can with what I have, where I am (thank you, Teddy Roosevelt!).

I think what's most daunting about having a daughter is knowing that if I want Noelle to grow up to be confident of who she is in Jesus, to not be so self-focused, to not be weighed down by her weaknesses and insecurities, I know that I have to be the one to set that example for her. I don't want her to grow up watching her mom always second-guess herself, always be so hard on herself, always fret about every little thing. I want her to see a mom who has courage to live life fully even in weakness, and is a woman of joy, even when she messes up (and I will. A lot). And this is more than just putting on a happy face for her sake. I know the only way I can truly change these things in me is to stand up against the lies and stand firmly in the truth of who I am:

Forgiven, beloved
Hidden in Christ
Made in the image of the Giver of life
Righteous and holy
Reborn and remade
Accepted and worthy, this is our new name
(Jason Gray's 'I Am New')

Part of the challenge of living in this freedom is learning to focus on the important things and to not worry about everything else. I'm reading Shauna Niequist's Bittersweet right now, and last night read the chapter "Things I Don't Do". A friend tells Shauna "it's not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What's hard.... is figuring out what you're willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about." Before hearing those words, Shauna, a habitual list-keeper, once wrote "DO EVERYTHING BETTER" on her to-do list, only to let the weight of such a lofty goal suck her spirit dry. In light of her friend's words about priorities, she instead wrote two lists. Her "Things I Do" list includes big things like keeping faith in Christ at the center of her life, making her marriage a deeply connected partnership, giving the best of her day to raise her son, etc. But more interesting to read about was her list of "Things I Don't Do", like gardening, changing out of yoga pants just to leave the house, making the bed, and baking. Her explanations of why she doesn't do those things was really quite profound, and I think can be summed up by saying that you have to go with your gifts. A person can't force an interest, a gift, or a calling. Yes, it's good to try new things. But there are only so many hours of the day and too many phantom expectations bombarding sanity in those fleeting hours.

I haven't fully thought through my two lists yet as I'm still processing the concept (if I ever sit down and spell them out, I'll be sure to share them in a later post), but just the idea of realizing there are things that I just don't have to do in my new life as a stay-at-home-mom (and be okay with not doing them!) gives me a renewed sense of freedom. But that freedom is not without responsibility - I also realize that I need to think more seriously about the gifts that God has given me, and what He's calling me to do with them. And those things need to be my priorities in my day-to-day life. Again, I'm not completely sure what they are yet, but I'm excited to think about them a little more intentionally. 

After reading that chapter last night, the title of one of my morning's daily devotionals was "Finding Your Sweet Spot". This author also talks about what she is and isn't gifted with, and issues us a challenge to do the same: "How has God formed and fashioned you? If it's hospitality and making a home beautiful, then there are people who will be touched by that gift. If it's humor and laughter, then someone needs to find that joy, too. If it's teaching, teach. If it's dancing in the living room with your babies, then dance away. And then, together, let's use those sweet spots to draw people to a God who loves them and is waiting to reveal their gifting, too."

I plan to dance in my living room with my baby a lot. I already have, actually. I'm a terrible dancer - rhythm is not part of my gifting - but I don't care. I want to embrace joy. Not carelessly to the point that I shirk my responsibilities, but recklessly in a way that makes those responsibilities feel lighter and fuller at the same time. 

The joy that was last Saturday culminated in a Jason Gray concert. The host church has a crying room, so we were able to take Noelle with us. Hearing Jason perform last March was one of the most joyful experiences of recent years (you can read the story here), and last Saturday my heart was full as I felt the Spirit move through the stories and the songs, with my husband by my side and my daughter on my lap. 

The last song of the night was the perfect end to that day - a day of vowing to let go of the junk and to instead cling to the truth of who - and more importantly whose - I am:

When I lose my way
and I forget my name
Remind me who I am
In the mirror all I see
is who I don't want to be
Remind me who I am
In the loneliest places,
when I can't remember what grace is

Tell me once again who I am to You
who I am to You
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
that I belong to You