Are there some things in your life that happened, but it wasn't until later that you realized the significance of those things?
For me, marriage and childbirth are the ones that stand out the most to me. I knew they were important days, but I didn't realize how important until much later. I just couldn't see the big picture yet. I probably still only see a fraction of the picture, but I know that I see more of it today than when they actually occured.
There are many, many roads we travel down as we go through life. And pretty regularly, we come to a fork. We make a choice, not knowing the significance of that choice until we've come to the end of that particular road. We often wonder if we can go back and choose differently because the fork we chose didn't turn out like we'd hoped. But because no one has made time travel accessible, we just have to live with our choices and hope to choose more wisely the next time we encounter a fork.
I had no idea when I got married 8 years ago how much I would change. I remember hoping that Ben would change a bit, but I didn't see where I needed to change. I didn't realize how stubborn I was. I didn't realize how selfish and self-centered I was. Being a wife and a mom has forced me to make choices for more than just myself. My choices affect my family now, and it's not a light responsibility to bear. It's been difficult, but I wouldn't trade the experiences for anything because being responsible for others has helped me escape the prison of my own skull.
I saw this literally the other day when I was getting ready to go to church. I had rollers in my hair and was making awkward faces in the mirror trying to get my mascara just right. And behind me, in the reflection, was my husband, talking about his dream from the night before. My youngest son in his arms, playing with his daddy's collar. My middle child with his arms wrapped around one of my thighs, his forehead poking up over the counter just enough that I can see him a little bit in the mirror. And my sweet, red-headed daughter, primping and pleading to go with Mom and Dad to Big Church instead of her Sunday school class. I realized that I rarely get to see myself in the mirror anymore without at least one of two members of my family included in the reflection. I don't just see me anymore. I see them all. All the time.
There are days when all I want to see is my lone self in the mirror. I just want to be left alone with my own thoughts and to make decisions that will only affect me. There are days when my family feels like a ball and chain. But most days, I realize how deeply honored I am to have been entrusted with my family. My husband needs a wife, and God saw fit that it should be me. My children need a mom, and God saw fit that it should be me. How overwhelming and exhilirating all at the same time! And as awesome as that is, I still find myself craving the company of those who have long been potty trained and can cut their food by themselves and who won't wipe their runny noses on my pretty dress.
But I realize that there will come a day when my decision to crawl on the floor pushing trains across a track and coloring in the princess coloring book and changing into a new, clean dress (or just wearing my dirty one and calling it 'flavorful') and singing the ABC's (for the gazillionth time) will pay off big time.
That by my choosing to stop cleaning behind the couch for a few minutes while my son finds comfort in my arms because he's afraid of the boogy man, I am teaching him something about how valued he is, and then he just might believe it when he hears it from Jesus.
That by my choosing to put off that nice, relaxing, warm bath with my ears under the water and something by CS Lewis in my hands to let her entertain me with tales of knights and soldiers and heroes and enchantments galore, I am teaching her that what she says is important and worthy to be heard, and then maybe she will believe that her prayers are heard by and important to God.
That by my choosing to step away from the computer mid-game (when I'm beating my high score) in order to chase my littlest one around the room which makes us both laugh so hard that we have tears spilling all over our faces, and we collapse on the floor in exhausted heaps of pure, uninhibited joy, that I am teaching him that he is much more important that my silly attempts at significance (that don't make me any more significant in the slightest), and perhaps he will realize that he has something to offer when God opens his eyes to the needs of this world.
And all because I stopped and saw them and realized that one day I will want what I did while they weren't potty trained and still wiping snot on my dress to matter and to point to them God. I pray that I can look back someday (because that someday WILL come when I look into the mirror and only see myself) and see what I choose to engage in helped my kids, my husband, and me to know God more. I can't see it now. All I see now are the constant needs of my family and how I don't seem to be enough for them. Thank you, Jesus, that I'm not the only one taking care of me and my family.