Many Central families will be experiencing graduation this May while other will experience it in their future over the next several years. It is a time of mixed emotions for most parents. Some will find joy that they have finally made it to that parenting milestone. Others will find anxiety that they are about to become empty nesters. Rest assured no matter where one falls on this spectrum of emotions, they will be sitting in the stands with a posture of retrospect, thinking back to those first years of parenthood, wondering “did I do enough?” Well friends, you are in good company. We hope you will enjoy this post from Lora Hayes, who shares with us her truth about parenting fatigue and serving with joy.
I know, it sounds so cliché, but as an empty nester, I frequently ask myself, “where did the years go?” How did I get to be the mom of three adult children?” I do, however, recall those hectic years of raising children, carpooling, planning PTO fundraisers, attending endless sporting events, fixing meals, helping with homework….the list goes on and on. If you’re a mom (or Dad) in this phase of life, I’m sure you can totally relate. But trust me when I say, the days are long, but the years are short.
Let me share one of my experiences as a young mom raising three small children. I decided to leave a career in business to be a stay at home Mom, something I’d always wanted to be. But after almost a decade of working, I admit, I was not prepared for the long days filled with endless feedings, laundry, messes (I admit to having OCD tendencies), sleep deprivation, dirty dishes, etc. Just going to Wal-Mart for groceries was an ordeal! Outings of this nature also meant I needed to shower and get dressed! Another ordeal! Again, I think some of you can relate.
In my heart, I knew these tasks were important, but some days, I just felt like a hamster on a wheel, staying busy spinning endlessly, but seemingly getting nowhere. One day, I was completely overwhelmed with what seemed like a mountain of “to dos” in front of me, ones that I knew would only get “undone” in short order. My husband was always good to compliment me on my housekeeping and “mommy” skills, but I wondered if it mattered to anyone else! As I contemplated this, the frustration took hold and tears began to roll down my cheeks. I felt tired of the same routine, the same messes day in and day out. I was feeling unimportant and at the same time, ashamed that I was focused on myself.
In my frustration and needing some “quiet time”, I reached for my devotional bible, praying for a ray of hope from God’s word. Indeed, He came to me as only a loving Father could as my bible opened to a devotional in the book of Romans. The title of the devotional is “Even This?” and as I began to read, I knew God was speaking directly to me through the words on this page (He often does that…….). Anyway, here is an excerpt from that devotional:
It was still morning, but I was tired—tired of the same mess day after day—of washing clothes that only yesterday I had folded and returned to their proper places; of doing the dishes, only to get them out a short time later to reset the table. I was sick of spending hours cooking a meal that was consumed in minutes.
Upon reading this, I shouted, “yes, yes, Lord—this is me!” You understand my feelings and frustrations.” But He urged me—“keep reading child.” So I did.
God in his loving-kindness came to meet me: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). “Lord, even this?” I asked.
“Especially this,” he replied. “Who else is going to do it for me? In all these small ways, you are serving me. “
As I look at my three children now, all adults, I clearly see that, “yes”–all those chores and tasks, day in and day out….in each and every one, I was serving my God! I was especially chosen for these tasks to serve Him for His glory! All those years ago, when they were young—yes, there were some difficult days and I might not have felt as if I was serving with a joyful heart. But serving in love, as I did raising my children, is life giving and now the fruits of my labor are evident. How grateful I am now for those times and the many ways God chose me to serve Him. With my empty nest, I now have the time to ponder some of the memories made during those times and they bring me great joy!
So, how is God asking you to serve Him? If it’s changing diapers, helping with homework and scrubbing bathrooms, know that He has specifically chosen you to serve Him in this way. If it’s to lead a committee or help a neighbor in need, you are serving Him! It is, after all, what we were created to do, even in the smallest of ways.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…… Phil. 2:5-7
Director of Connections