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Eyes Wide Open

We sat in their living room, plants and paintings surrounding us like a warm tropical forest.  There was an ease in the conversation, though it was the first time all four of us had sat down to visit.  I tucked my feet under Alex’s legs to warm my toes and turned to our new friends.

“So what was being a new mom like for a driven, purposeful woman like you?”

She was the mother of two toddlers with another on the way.  I felt I was tapping into a deep well of knowledge from someone who had been there, done that.
She glanced at her husband with a knowing smile and his tired eyes twinkled back at her.

“It’s been tough”, she replied honestly.  “There are so many other dreams I’ve put on hold for now.”  She paused.  “But I feel like this time is about God building my character for whatever is next”.

Her words sunk in like heavy bricks hitting thick mortar – my understanding expanding like new construction.

I thought about her words often over the next week, each time the truth setting in a little firmer in my spirit.  They held the weight of conviction as I realized how often I’d looked down on the role of “mother”.  It’s almost as though when I saw a woman with young children that’s all I saw.  I didn’t see the passions, gifts, dreams and calling on her life.  I saw “just another young mom running ragged after her crazy kids”.

But soon that woman is going to be me.  And as I struggle with the reality of putting some of my dreams on hold, I wonder how it will feel.  Will others look at me as I’ve so often looked at young moms?  Already I’ve started to turn down new speaking opportunities in preparation for our little peanut and each time I ask myself “Is this really what God wants?”

He spoke to me so clearly this past Tuesday evening and I heard her wise words echoed in His.

“Heather, I’m more concerned with your character than I am with your success”.

Wow.

Like the disciples must have felt after asking Jesus, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” and hearing his response, “whoever takes the lowly position like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”, my pride is humbled.  I sheepishly realize I’ve missed the whole point!  Jesus is saying that the one who welcomes a child, welcomes Him!  Do you hear that momma’s?!?

I still get caught up in the ways of the world and the flesh.  I still forget that a full schedule doesn’t equate with a heart full of his Spirit and truth and presence.  I still lose sight of the cross – the reason He came, the goal and purpose of his life on earth.

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

God, this day I willingly lay my hopes and dream, goals and desires at your feet.  Change my perspective that I might see with your eyes.  Re-order my values so they are in line with yours – the last, first; the greatest, least; to serve rather than be served. Grow my character that it may be an inviting, lush forest where your Spirit can make its home and success is but an afterthought.  Amen.

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13 thoughts on “Eyes Wide Open

  1. Hey Heather,

    A few things…
    First, thanks for writing this post. It actually meant a lot to me. I’ve often felt looked down upon because I am a mother and stay at home with my children. I’ve also, until fairly recently, dreaded running into people that we graduated with because of this attitude. They would ask me what I was up to and I would tell them that I have children and that’s where their interest in me would stop. In their eyes I was a SAHM and so I must be boring. Time and time again I’ve faced those looks. Now that people our age are acutally starting to have children it’s a bit different but it’s still taken it’s toll on me.

    Second, I took this from one of my blogs that I wrote awhile back…
    “I remember hearing a woman talk about entering into motherhood in regards to packing for a trip, or something to that effect. You leave certain things behind, you pack what you want to bring along for your journey for later, and you wear an outfit during your travels. She said that motherhood was similar in that you just need to leave certain things about yourself behind, things that were maybe not that important to you. You also need to pack things that are meaningful that you might want to continue later on, when baby grows up. And finally, there are certain things that make you YOU, so one needs to wear those regardless of becoming a mother or not. This analogy resonated with me and pulled at one of my heart strings, I just wish that I had heard it before I became a mother. I would have given more time and thought to what I believed made me special and unique, what I just liked to do, and what I could live without.”
    I wish I could go around giving every mother-to-be this piece of advice.
    And third, guaranteed others will look at you how you’ve looked at other young mothers. We live in a society that doesn’t value family and they’ll question why you put your ‘success’ on hold for a child. I remember sitting, 8 months pregnant, with my sister and brother at a family gathering. Someone brought everyone’s attention to the fact that they were so proud of Kelly for becoming a Chef and for Brennan finishing university. My name wasn’t mentioned and there I was, creating life inside of me. It’s backwards.

    Anways, sorry this turned into a novel. Good post. Thanks again.

    1. Bria,
      Thanks for your feedback and thoughts from your blog as well. I really like that analogy and I will carry it with me as I sort through this time of transition. I added a little something to the post after your comment…the fact that when Jesus was talking about who the greatest was he actually said “The only who welcomes a child, welcomes me!” What an amazing way we as mothers get to invite Jesus in! God bless and thanks so much for your blog as well. I really enjoy reading it!

  2. I so appreciate what you have said here Heather. It seems that motherhood divides people into camps. It’s all “us and them.” Breastfeeding vs. formula, stay-at-home vs. working, homeschooling vs. private vs. public, 2 kids vs. 5 kids. It seems that no matter what you do, someone is going to (very loudly) look down on you. Perhaps it’s because we’re all so insecure. Do we think that motherhood doesn’t have value? Must we fight each other to make ourselves feel better? Oh for some middle ground where most of us live! Oh for some grace and recognition of each mother’s unique qualities and desires (from others and ourselves!) We have to learn to LIVE through the diapers and tantrums and vowel sounds and glorify God with our uniqueness and not just attempt to measure up to some supposed ideal or feel like we’re waiting until we can be “useful” to God again.
    Bria- I TOTALLY get where you are coming from. I also had kids before many of my friends and had the same issues with family and friends. Praying for you.
    Heather- thank you for some much needed middle ground! It was refreshing!

    -Kimberly (from WAAAAY back at Red Rock)

    1. I hate that motherhood divides people, but I’ve started to see that trend already…I hope we as woman who pursue God can avoid this by continuing to seek him first and find our identity in who he says we are, which doesn’t change whether we’re mothers or not. First and foremost, we are his daughters! Thanks for your thoughts Kim!

  3. Hey Heather, wow very inspiring! Thank you really needed to hear that!
    The time in waiting is character building for whats next!!
    God is truely amazing!
    You are going to be an amazing mother and just think God has His hand in your womb creating and moulding someone that He already knows and loves dearly, and this little one is going to be a world changer!!
    Love you and much blessings!

  4. I thank both of you for your posts. I’m a mother of four young children and have also given up a lot to raise them at home without giving them to someone else to take care of while I go fulfill my own dreams. Right now, I’m building a base that will last my children a lifetime. And I see that this is the most important job/career/responsiblity I will ever have.

    That means that it’s also the most challenging, rewarding, and character building season of my life to date. I struggle often with finding joy in my circumstances, becoming annoyed by the little things that should bring me joy. Part of this is not taking moments with my Heavenly Father. It’s those times with God that bring life as a mother into perspective. It’s those times that help me learn from my children what being a child of God is about.

    I often say that this is a season for me and that I will go back to work someday. Then that means that I need to live in this season with all my heart and not look constantly to the future. The future will come but I will not have my children at this age ever again. This is a season. It will pass. So enjoy every moment before it’s gone.

    Thanks Heather for sharing and giving me a chance to share and speak to myself. I look forward to hearing what you’ll have to say about how your baby teaches you about God, the Father. Children are an amazing gift. You are and will experience a miracle like non other.

    1. Thanks Cyndi. I appreciate your thoughts and insights as well. It’s so good to be reminded to embrace the present and not wish for the “next thing” that God has for us. I hope I can enjoy every moment.

  5. Hi Heather,

    Thank you so much for sharing on this topic!!

    When we had our son, I found myself thinking exactly like you. Lord, is this it? What about my dreams, and my “calling”? Now, I’m gonna be “stuck” at home with my kid, and then what???

    Let me tell you, last year, I spent an entire year at home with my boy, in a small basement apartment, only one car (which my husband took to work everyday) so I was really “stuck” in every sense of the word! But you know, when I look back, it was the most priceless year ever. I’ve discovered that being a mother is the greatest calling you’ll ever have. Nothing compares to it. In that year, God grew my character. He said: “If you are willing to listen, and hear my voice, and receive what I am about to teach you, it will all be worth it”. The year went by, and at the end of it, HE opened up the door for a full-time job for me as Worship Pastor, which has been my “dream job” for years!!! Be encouraged. In a few months from now, and years from now, you will look back, and will be in awe of what God is doing in your life, and so thankful for the precious child (perhaps children by then LoL) that He has granted you here on earth. He is the one who gave you the ability and the gift of speaking, He is the one that instilled dreams and vision in your heart; therefore, HE will see it through!! Congrats to you both! 🙂

    1. Martine! So good to hear from you! Thanks for the congrats and for sharing your thoughts and experiences as well. It’s so encouraging to know so many mothers who are passionately pursuing Jesus too! I feel surrounded!

  6. heather & bria.
    thanks so much for sharing your thoughts & wisdom. your post & reply definitely resonated with me in a big way. like you, bria, i wish i would have heard the advice you now give before entering into motherhood. it’s been, and still is, an interesting journey of discovering what parts of me God doesn’t want me to leave behind for my wellbeing, and that of those around me:)

    it felt relatively easy to lay down my career, close my business, and enter into the wonderful world of raising one, quickly followed by another, baby boy. a couple years later though, i was left wondering “what makes me a unique creation of God?”, what am i bringing to this world, my family etc that only i can?”. i’m still on the journey of trying to answer those questions in their entirety, with pieces of the puzzle falling into place daily.

    the role of motherhood is an amazingly high calling and i encourage you to quiet those voices that may give it unimportance. it’s also easy for us to see that our children melt our hearts and bring us much joy as their parents, while forgetting that they can do this for the world…even at a tender, young age. yesterday, i had the privilege of watching my two boys light up the room at a reception after my uncle’s funeral. while it was no doubt a somber event, i watched as smiles appeared on peoples faces and their spirits lightened when they saw our boys giggling, holding hands, cleverly dropping their sandwiches in discreet locations to make room for another cookie. when it was time for us to leave, they gave hugs to most everyone there…much to their delight.

    now, i know every parent thinks their children are great. but, as i drove home, glancing in my rearview mirror at these two little bundles of joy, i reflected on their purpose, their calling, their impact on this world. i realized it is not something to wait for…that they will one day be grow into as they mature. they are 2 & 3…and living out their calling!

    heather, you will be an amazing mother! i have no doubt about that. and you WILL find your way in the transition, especially when you ask great questions like you are!

    thanks so much for sharing:)

    1. Wendy,
      I love that story about your boys being such a blessing at the funeral. I heard a story of a similar kind just the other day from the chaplain at Concordia Hospital. She spoke about how in times of sickness, death and mourning children are often the ones to bring hope, joy, light, love into those dark times. It will truly be amazing to see how God uses our children beyond all we could ask or imagine!

  7. Reading this tonight was like God speaking straight to my heart!

    I was sitting on my bed, journaling, praying and feeling very conflicted about my day-to-day role as a wife and mother and all it entails. I was having “one of those days”, and admittedly feeling sorry for myself and feeling alone in my experiences.

    Interestingly, in a moment of quiet I felt drawn to go check my emails, and there I found your post. I couldn’t help it- I broke down in tears. God spoke to me through you.

    Thank you for reminding me of my high calling as a mother, and that this time of motherhood is really about challenging our character and equipping us for His kingdom!

    Also, to Bria- I thought this even before, but I think it even more so now… I truly do admire you for how you’ve dedicated yourself to being a mother, and are so clearly and passionately committed to it. Your heart for your family is evident, and I think you are awesome! ( I always have).

    Heather- I’m so glad for the sensitivity you have to what the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. And I’m glad that you have the gift for sharing it in a way that resonates with us! I have no doubt that God will continue to use you mightily, in whatever capacity He chooses!

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