Yesterday I threw myself a good old-fashioned pity party. It started a few days earlier when one of my children stated emphatically that I was not entitled to a bite of his pancake because I didn’t pay for said pancake.
Since, you know, “Dad makes all the money.”
I laughed (on the outside) and said something snarky like, “I’m going to go get a full-time job and hire a mean nanny to take care of you, then you’ll be sorry—now, give me a bite of your pancake!”
Then, the other child chimed in with, “Get a job? Where would YOU get a job, Mom…McDonalds?”
My kids are adorable, aren’t they?
I laughed, sort of. And I tried to remember they are children in the process of learning to use their sensitivity filters. They (mostly) love me and mean nothing hurtful by their comments.
But what I heard in my head was this:
“You are freeloading off your husband and are completely unemployable. And furthermore, you are a loser. Your kids have no respect for you because you have accomplished nothing in life, other than some clean closets and a few good recipes. Additionally, you are not even that good at cleaning closets or following recipes. Or writing, for that matter.”
All this in the corner booth at The Cracker Barrel on a Saturday morning.
For the rest of the weekend, I choked back tears and questioned my purpose and seriously wondered if even McDonald’s would hire me, wretched woman that I am.
Then, yesterday, after I dropped them off at school, it all came to a crescendo when I sat at my computer alone, contemplating my purpose and my value. Simultaneously, what seemed like every last friend and fellow blogger who has achieved any amount of success through publication, income or major public appearances ALL SHOWED UP IN MY FACEBOOK FEED AND MY E-MAIL INBOX AT THE EXACT SAME TIME!
All of them, bragging of their various successes and opportunities. In my face. Totally doing this purposely to me. At me.
At that point, I did the only thing I could think to do: I put my hands over my face and bawled like a five-year old.
I cried about MY dreams and MY goals and MY ambitions and how I haven’t reached ANY of them. I said things like, “No fair!” and “I’m the ONLY one!” and “Why does SHE get all the opportunities?”
Because I’m super-mature like this.
I’m not sure why, but something about seeing my friends reach the very goals I’ve had on my Bucket List for decades made me feel like there was no more room for me there. That somehow, there were a limited number of book deals or speaking opportunities or certifications or whatever—and now, at this very moment, they are entirely used up.
No more room for me.
What else is there for me to do? Except apply at McDonalds?
But then, I sensed God there, with me, at my desk.
He wasn’t angry or frustrated.
He may have been slightly amused, actually—the same way I am when one of my children is completely irrational and self-deprecating. But He was infinitely more Loving and Patient and Perfect.
But there He was. With me, while I cried. Waiting for me to stop long enough so He could tell me this:
I am where I am today (mostly) because of choices that I’ve made. I haven’t chosen everything in life, but where God has graciously given me choices, I’ve made most of them coherently, deliberately and (usually) with much prayer.
It’s not all bad. In fact, it’s not bad at all. Over the last seventeen years, I’ve chosen to focus on my kids, keep up the house, cook at home, exercise, maintain a slower pace, rest often, and say no to most outside activities.
I CHOSE those things.
Others have sacrificed those EXACT THINGS so they could write more or study more or travel more or work more. I have one friend who is at the height of success in her chosen field. But when we were both young mothers with small children, she made huge sacrifices regarding work and child-care that I was not willing to make. And, as a result, she is now checking items off her Bucket List. And also, she has plenty of cash to buy a plate of pancakes.
None of it–her choices, my choices–is better than the other. None of it is more sacred than the other. It’s all sacred. It all comes from God’s hand. It all flows from His provision, His riches, His knowledge, His purpose.
If it’s done for God’s glory, cooking a home meal for my family of five is just as sacred as preparing a speech for an audience of five-thousand or a writing a book manuscript for a readership of five-hundred-thousand.
I know all of this. I’ve been telling myself this for years. I tell myself this almost every day, actually.
So, why the pity party? Why the tears?
I hear God speak to me in the deepest, emptiest, most unfulfilled places of my heart:
Either stop crying and be content with the result of the choices I’ve made, or stop crying and make some different choices that will lead me to the places I desire to be.
Either way, it’s time to stop crying.
And so, I did.
I stopped crying.
Except I didn’t sit down to write.
Neither did I draft out a new life plan.
Nor did I find fresh contentment in my stay-at-home-mom duties.
Instead, I went into the kitchen and made a giant vat of mashed potatoes.
I don’t know the meaning of this.
It’s just the truth.
Chew on the thought-provoking conclusion of this post, while I go figure out my life and eat mashed potatoes.