For months after transitioning from full time work to being a mostly stay-at-home mom, I mourned the loss of my work. I missed seeing the impact I had on my students’ lives. I missed the relationships I had with my coworkers, who had grown to appreciate my faith even if they did not share it. I missed having an impact on the future of an organization. I felt called to be at home, but I didn’t see how my work here as having a very large impact on anyone besides my family.
A few months ago, David, Zoe, and I were on a Sunday afternoon walk when we ran into our associate youth director from church. He and David swapped stories from the morning (“the sermon went well! I got a lot of good feedback!”) (“we had the BEST conversations in Sunday school today! Students were asking such great questions!”)
Then they looked at me.
“I cleaned poop out of the bathtub this morning,” I volunteered.
“Awesome job!” the associate youth director said.
As we walked away, I shook my head a little, thinking well, that about sums up my impact right now. I keep things going at home so that David can have an impact.
And sure, I have my moments where I think, okay, NOW I’m having an impact, because I’m being really intentional about reaching out to that person or making this charitable contribution or tangibly helping someone with something they need. But most of the time, I feel like I’m just a stay at home mom trying to fill my day and my toddler’s day with fun stuff so she grows and develops and I don’t die of boredom. My reach isn’t far.
That’s where I’ve been for months. Not unhappy with my life AT ALL, but not seeing my influence right now as very big.
A few weeks ago, though, that idea began to be challenged.
Through a series of conversations that had to be God-orchestrated, I learned that while I’ve been walking around believing my reach to be small, God has been using me in places I wasn’t even aware of.
Someone told me that they read an email I sent them every morning and that it gives them strength to face the day. My words were not that great, nor did I envision it being an ongoing read, but it is for her.
A coffee date I walked away from months ago thinking “meh, that didn’t have an impact?” The person just contacted me and wants to get involved in our church. Eight or nine months later, she’s still mulling over what we talked about.
My exercise class—surely it’s just an exercise class, right? Except it’s not. Because people are talking to me about faith and pain and struggle in the middle of jumping jacks now. What the what?
The pain and loss I’ve been experiencing in the last few months? Helped me understand a little better how to reach out to a friend when she had a miscarriage a few weeks ago.
The soup that I made yesterday, only to realize, oops, that recipe made way more soup than I want to eat? It’s going to a friend whose family could use a home cooked meal.
God doesn’t waste ANYTHING.
We are the ones that waste. We complain our way through circumstances that could teach us something if we’d only open our heart a bit more. We dream of the opportunities we’ll have in the future, ignoring the real possibilities right in front of us. We make small talk, thinking that’s what others want, when they’re actually desperately craving real talk. We get too busy and too routine oriented to look up and really see what He is doing. We say things like “my impact is small right now” or “I’m JUST a…” or “right now, I can ONLY…” when really? Every single moment of our life can have an impact.
For months, I’ve been praying that God will use my life and my story. I’ve wondered what form that will take in the future.
All the while, it’s been taking form.
And now I know.
I’m thankful that my eyes are open, albeit a bit late. I’m hopeful that from now on, I’ll partner with God in the NOW, seeing the opportunities and possibilities through His eyes instead of my own, seeing what I’ve got instead of believing the lies that it’s not much.
These slower, more family-focused moments of life? Are not a break from my real life. They are my life.
And He can, and is, using them.