This morning I am sat in Waterstones cafe thinking, praying, planning and pondering. Way back at the beginning of 2014 I started to think about living life intentionally, embracing my call to walk this path God has given me, delighting in bringing order to chaos in our family life and beyond and generally being content with not having a lovely label or answer to that horrible question, ‘what do you do?’ Getting pregnant, living through the first 10 months of son2’s life, being hideously sleep deprived all kind of got in the way of my joy and discontentment has set in once more. I’ve found myself envious of husbandface’s nice shiny label and new role, of his commitment to a job he enjoys, is fulfilled in and loves. Don’t get me wrong, I love that he is doing this job, that he gets to be a blessing to his school, that he is seeking to live out the wonder of God in his workplace and is seeking to be a transforming influence on those around him. But every now and again the voice whispers in the back of my head, ‘you don’t have a label, you don’t matter, you just look after two crazy boys badly’. It’s a voice I am trying to kill, not least because it speaks lies and rubbish.
I fall too many times for the lie that because I can’t neatly sum up what I do in a pithy title then I must have fallen through the cracks of society, become a bit worthless and left behind. No matter that my life is made up of beautiful strands of involvement in different things, no matter that I’m seeking to raise two beautiful boys well in this world, to hopefully, prayerfully become wonderful men. I seem to all too easily beat up on myself. That has to stop.
I’ve been given this life and I love it, I love using my gifts to bring order to our house, to our finances, to our eating. I love that I get to hang out with two very delightful weirdos everyday and get to be the main influence in their lives for these few crucial early years (and even on the shouty days I think that’s an awesome privilege). I love that I am now a Spiritual Director and developing what that will look like in the madness of our months. I love that I get to help our church shape and nurture it’s small groups. I love that I get to hang out with my mates who are also looking after tiny people and can share the madness with them. I love that I get to pray for husbandface’s school and support him in his new role. I love that life is varied and different and not at all like the offices I have worked in over the years.
I love it and yet I struggle to own that love and remember that love. I long to own contentment and peace, especially as September kicks in and we have new routines to live with it. Husbandface’s new job will begin, Son1 will start some sessions at Nursery for the first time and our week will have a different shape to it. I am looking forward to the changes and I long to experience and see God at work in the midst of the details of our days. He has good works for me to walk in and a life that he has called me, Kath, to live. I pray that I would be content with that, and free then to delight in the life that others have, rather than enviously or pridefully comparing with them. Romans 12 in The Message are still awesome words to live by as our boat sets sail into September and beyond.
12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvellously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
9-10 Love from the centre of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fuelled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.