Eye contact is something I miss, as I seem to disappear behind my double stroller. I wonder if one day I’ll feel seen and heard again. If someday I’ll ever be important to someone who doesn’t need me to feed them. I wonder if I’ll ever be successful or influential or seen as more than a “mom”. I wonder if it makes me a bad mom to wonder.
I’ve formulated several versions of the thesis that “I am important” through motherhood only to have them crumble beneath my feet the moment I try to stand my soul upon them:
This time is only a season, a short chapter of my life. If I wait patiently then one day I’ll be important.
…only I’ve found that living for the future makes it almost impossible for me to enjoy the present. When I look at my kids I don’t want to find myself rushing them to get older, need me less, and get out of my way so I can go back to having ambitions beyond having every piece of my laundry clean at the same time. That’s not my heart.
What I am doing is more important than it looks.
…only I am too honest for this. I have read much better bloggers than me attempt to romanticize the life of moms. I’m not saying that kissing boo-boos and washing dishes aren’t at times mundane disguises that hide deep relationships, beauty, and connection. Most days serving my family is simply an act of love made all the deeper by the fact it is totally unexciting. I have lived too much life to actually find my importance in changing a diaper, no matter how much hidden meaning one may try to attach to it.
What I am doing is important because one day my sacrifices will pay off in my children’s beautiful and important lives.
…only I love my kids too much for this. Their future is not what I’m hanging my importance or success on, they are too fragile to bear that weight and I love them too much to come to them asking them for validation. I’m their mommy. I let them know they are important and loved and ask nothing in return.
Then, one evening not too long ago I heard a whisper that changed my life. Forever.
It’s not about being important.
I’m important to many people who love me and to God himself, but I don’t need to feel important by being admired, having a big platform to be heard, or chasing an increasing level of feeling successful or influential.
Once I let it sit with me it, my heart got happy. Joy returned. My soul felt whole. It’s not about being important. It’s about living in freedom instead of searching for validation. When I let go of needing to feel important I can serve my family out of love and not feel bitter or degraded. I can hope for my children’s future and not feel pressure to control it. I can live right now in love and freedom and not wait anxiously in jealous greed for something that was never promised to me.
Does giving up on being important mean I’m giving up on life?
I’m not giving up on goals or dreams, but I am giving up on making goals and deadlines that cost me more than I want to give of myself. I am giving up on loving myself and pursuing my own need to feel admired, respected, successful and important. I’m choosing to love others more.
It’s tempting for me to imagine that every gift and talent I have been given are meant to uniquely equip me for an exciting mission that I am personally passionate for and produces an incredibly important accomplishment for God. The truth is that I have been gifted simply to encourage and invest in others (1 Corinthians 14, 1 Peter 4:10-11) and God looks at the heart, he doesn’t play favorites- even with people who are influential or powerful for Him (Galatians 2:6). We are encouraged not to judge anyone, including ourselves. No more worrying about whether I have the Holy Spirit in a big enough way or am on a big enough platform or impactful enough mission. All God asks me to do is have a good heart and let Him commend me in the end (1 Corinthians 4:1-5).
Jesus washed the disciples feet (John 13:1-17). No one would argue Jesus is important, but he knew that holding on to his importance would keep him from showing love in the way he needed to. He chose love and reconciliation over glory and importance and was undeterred from his mission no matter how often misunderstood (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus rejected every opportunity for importance and glory that came his way. I say that I want to be like this infinitely wise creator of the world who chose to hang out with fisherman, and yet I get frustrated by the limitations of conversing with my own toddlers.
Humility and love have their shields raised against the ravenous appetite of self-importance. Instead of writhing in the fear of never being successful, influential or important I can love and serve without any agenda other than making Jesus smile. I never took it seriously when Jesus said the last would be first- or had the faith to live my life like it was true until now.