Hard to believe it has been nearly a year since my last post.
What a wild year it has been…but more on that at a later date.
The funny thing about God’s will is it sometimes feels difficult to determine because we were given the gift of free will and the ability to choose our own path. We have desires of our heart and God will often humor us and give us the option to chase those desires, knowing all the while it isn’t what He would choose for us, but that’s the beauty of free will. So, it begs the question, how do we know what parts of our lives are God’s will and what parts are our own desires that He has allowed us to chase?
The short answer: how we feel.
I never dreamed I’d be a stay-at-home mom. I grew up with a working mother who also grew up with a working mother. My mom’s brothers all married women who chose to work, though a few worked from home, and my mom’s sister also chose to work outside the home. All my cousins work, even those who wouldn’t necessarily need to, given the career fields of their spouses. It is what we know. So, when I was presented with the option to stay-at-home with Vivienne so at least one of her parents could see all her “firsts,” I decided I would, but knew I’d return to work as soon as she went to school.
When everything began to unravel with our move to Belize, the only open door appeared to be this job with the Department of Corrections in midlands of South Carolina. It was a job for which I’d applied on a whim, in what I thought was a momentary freak-out about moving to another country. This isn’t the first job I’ve had outside the home, but it was what I thought was my “dream job;” that desire of my heart that God gave me the option to pursue. However, it wasn’t as fulfilling as I’d always dreamed it would be.
I am certainly passionate about the incarcerated population. Showing incarcerated women care and concern for their wellbeing, when many have never experienced genuine care and concern, felt like I was truly being the hands and feet of Christ. Being able to connect women with vital resources they needed, often connecting this huge state agency that bans its employees from bringing in a personal Bible or any sort of religious material, to Christian nonprofits, was rewarding but it came with a hefty price tag.
I missed some important things over the last seven months because of that job. I didn’t get to take Vivienne to her first day of kindergarten because I couldn’t be late for SCDC basic training. This “desire of my heart” robbed me of the opportunity to cry those tears of sadness and joy because I didn’t get to watch my daughter walk into school for the first time. I always thought I’d be the parent who would send the “teacher request” items in, but I was too busy to have time to shop. I was not the first person to hear about Vivienne’s day because it wasn’t my car she got into at the end of the school day and it broke my heart. My heart that desired to be a social worker in a correctional setting.
My heart broke when, multiple days each week, Vivienne would lay on the floor of our bedroom and cry; asking me why I had to go to prison and when can I pick her up from school again. It broke my heart even more when I looked at her and told her I couldn’t pick her up because I had to work, but promising I’d take a day off again soon. I dropped her off as early as the school would allow – 7:20 AM – and I was still 20 – 30 minutes late for work because I was driving an hour to get there. I told myself I got to eat breakfast with Vivienne, but that didn’t really happen because I was anxious and losing my patience because we were always running late. I was away from home for 11-12 hours each day and when TJ was at sea, that meant I had no help with Vivienne, the dogs, household chores or prep for the next day, and there was no balance in my life. I didn’t have time to take care of my mental wellbeing because there was no time…and I stopped spending time in the Word.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve worked outside the home; I served as a church communications director and administrator for a year. While that job certainly had its stressful moments, like knowing if I typed the page number incorrectly for a hymn or accidentally deleted someone off the prayer list, it would be pointed out – even on Christmas Eve. However, I could take Vivienne to work with me sometimes and had the ability to be at her preschool events without question. Plus having time to really study the Word, listen to Christian music and discuss theological questions with priests was pretty awesome.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is, we have to step carefully with free will and desires of the heart. What we think will make us happy will never make us as happy as chasing after The Lord’s will for our lives.
As humans we are innately discontent with something, always. Whether it is discontentment with a career, home, community or relationship, we are inherently unhappy with some facet of life. A conversation I had with a friend and pastor’s wife in the Florida Keys surrounded just this – we are always discontent with something. As humans we are always searching for what will make us happy, even if we know deep down true happiness can only come from our relationship with The Lord.
What all this boils down to, for me, is I would rather stay home. A career in social work will always be there, but my time to be there for Vivienne when she still wants me and doesn’t think I’m annoying will end sooner than I would like. I find myself daydreaming of spending a few hours in the Word every day and volunteering my time at various organizations while Vivienne is in school, all the while knowing I get to be there for her as soon as school ends. I never thought I would be a stay-at-home mom yet, here I am, desiring nothing more.
That’s the funny thing about God’s will, when you’re walking in it your life has balance and when you’re not, it feels chaotic, draining and you always feel defeated. The desires of our heart are fleeting, human, while God’s will for our lives is eternal.
In case you didn’t figure it out already, I quit that job at the prison that brought us to the midlands. So, what’s next, God? I am ready to walk in Your will.