Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on unique ability. (Click HERE to read the post.)
To recap the post, the definition of your unique ability is this:
Part of your unique ability is doing that thing that brings you joy and when you come alive doing it – drawing, painting, writing, creating, running, cooking, pastoring, teaching, accounting, counseling, coaching, or whatever it is that God created you to do.
But if you are a mom, I want you to hear me on this: part of your unique ability is to love, care for, pour into, shepherd, counsel, care for, and clean up after – yes, that one too – the children God has given you.
I am writing the above statement through tears with a lump in my throat because it is so hard to believe, accept, and do.
I got such great feedback from the post I wrote on unique ability – partly because I think, as women, we struggle knowing what our unique ability is and if we have permission to develop it, engage with it, and let it flow.
And the answer is – yes. We do. But I also got great feedback about using our unique ability as moms to pour into our children. Because we all know, deep down, that pouring our unique ability into the world around us has to take second seat to pouring our unique ability into the children God has given us.
And friends, this is hard.
Nothing in our world stands back and applauds this decision. It often feels like the time we take to play a board game, read a book with someone nestled beside us, stay home at night to tuck everyone in or have a late night conversation with a lonely teen, get up early to make breakfast, pack lunches, plan, shop for, and cook dinner, plan birthday parties, draw up chore charts, or expend emotional energy doling out consequences, instead of blog, write, work, or do something measurable, manageable, and valuable from a growth standpoint in followers, numbers, or dollar signs, is flushing our time down the toilet.
Can I tell you something? I feel your pain – I wrestle with those very same things.
And I’m going to be even more honest: I dreamed of being a doctor, a missionary, author, teacher, and going back to school to earn my masters and doctoral degrees AND THEN be becoming a mom. But a mom first? Changing diapers? Playing board games? MAKING CRAFTS??? Nope. Didn’t cross my radar. I didn’t grow up longing to babysit. Didn’t like to babysit. Didn’t even like other people’s kids. I preferred books and academics to living, active human beings with real time needs that took away from fulfilling mine.
But then I had children – four of them – before accomplishing anything I thought measured as “significant” in the world’s eyes. And while I deeply love my children and would not trade being a mom for achieving any of the other dreams on my list, staying present to their needs, desires, wants, and hearts is something I have to remind myself is worth fighting for and doing on a daily basis.
I am thankful I am married to a man who loves to see me engage in my unique ability of writing, teaching, and discipling other women and helps me find and create avenues to do that, but I frequently have to reign myself in to remember: the unique ability of being Lillian, Lizzie, Caroline, and Mia Grace’s mom comes before any other.
I know this might sound harsh or like I am sharing too much or baring my soul in an inappropriate way as a mom, but I am sharing this because I think there are many others of you out there who struggle and feel the same way I do.
But I want to encourage both you and me in this: your work as a mom in the lives of your children, your pouring your unique abilities in them, is work that God made you and you alone to do. And it is work that will bear eternal, everlasting fruit.
I did a little research on how long the time and effort I put into sharing my unique ability of writing and teaching lasts:
- The lifespan of an Instagram post is about 21 hours.
- The lifespan of a blog post is about 2 years.
- The life span of a book is 20 years.
- The lifespan of your children and the generations who come after you is – eternal.
Puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?
My mom sent me a link to a podcast several weeks ago that I can’t stop listening to. The podcast is called Nothing is Wasted and is hosted by a guy named Davey Blackburn.
Davey was a pastor in Indiana, married for seven years to a beautiful woman named Amanda, and they had a two-year-old son. When Amanda was pregnant with their second child, she was murdered in an in-home break-in that left her husband, parents, siblings, and church community devastated and reeling.
But what Satan intends for evil, God uses for good. Every single time. Davey is committed to kicking the tail of the enemy by telling how his own story, his family’s story, and others’ stories, while full of pain, can be transformed, healed, and used for good by the power and grace of God. Any of his episodes is highly worth the listen.
But one episode just grabbed me. It is where Davey interviews Amanda’s father who is also a pastor in Indiana. This man did a phenomenal job raising his girl, and while he talks about the immense pain and grief of losing a daughter, he also talks about the tremendous fruit that came from her life.
And he doesn’t say this about himself, but I will – the fruit that was there in Amanda’s life was there in large part because he and his wife stewarded their unique ability well of being Amanda’s parents.
Fruit that I am tasting and eating and enjoying and growing from every time I listen to a podcast episode that came from her life and death. Fruit that came because he and his wife were willing to lay their lives down to prepare their daughter’s soul for eternal relationship and union with God.
Moms (and dads), every board game you and I play, every book we read, every phonogram card we hold up, every spelling list we dictate, every hurt we bandage, every consequence we give, every game we cheer on, every devotional we read, every prayer we pray, every teachable moment we teach, every moment we are present to the goodness and grace of God in the mundane moments and big moments of our children’s lives, eternal fruit is being born and shaped that will outlast us. It will.
As a screensaver on her phone, Amanda Blackburn had this quote: “Perhaps the greatest contribution you have to give this world is not what you do but who you raise.”
It’s so true. And those are the words that have to reign me in and reshape my values, my time, my heart, and my unique abilities every single day.
If you do not have children, or your children are not living the way you would like them to or are praying for them to, don’t despair. Jesus Himself did not have any biological children while He lived and walked on this earth, but He had the most eternally fruitful life of anyone who has ever lived.
The point isn’t if you able to have children or not, or if your children have turned out exactly like you expected or wanted them to. The point is this: if God has given you children, they are there, with you, for God to shape your heart. For you to pour your time, presence, and unique abilities into them and leave the results up to God. He is the great grower of every seed after all. The part that is up to us is the digging, planting, scattering, and staying present to their lives for the seasons we are given with them.
So if you are gifted as a cook, cook. If you are gifted as a writer, write. If you are gifted as an administrator, administrate. If you are gifted as a hostess, host. But if you are given the gift of children, stay present to that very precious gift. When time, season, and margin allows, God will open other doors and give you the peace and the courage to step through them. But until then, go at His pace. Work on His timeline. And don’t listen to the voice in your head that tells you you have to be more. More than “just a mom,” or “just a wife,” or “just at home.” Like I said in the previous post: Hogwash. (It’s a word I have to tell myself daily.) The soil in my home is the most fertile soil I am given to plant, tend to, and watch good seeds grow.
I want to end today as I ended the first post on unique ability:
And might I add – my job as a mom is to tend to the soil of my children’s hearts with the unique abilities I have been given and let the seeds grow.
For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram, @baker.susannah.