When I first began my 'higher education' in the fall of '99, I began to run headlong into a question posed to me through my instructors, advisors, peers, readings, projects and assignments. This question boils down to : "Who am I?"
Often I was chided if I answered the question based on my relationships- my family, my friends and church, my God. These were considered invalid answers because they were outside of me. They wanted answers based on my personal ambitions. So, I began to develop other ambitions outside of my home and church. I began to look forward to some time when the skills and lessons I was learning at school might 'pay off', enabling me to write for publications and create for galleries and earn money and acclaim (even if a modest amount) in spheres that seemed to have more clout than my home, my church and my neighborhood. This may seem like an innocent endeavor, and worthy goals of an education. But it began to set my mind at odds with the 'lesser' things. I began to disdain my home duties and to think less of involvement in our church and neighborhood. After all, how much should I really invest in the lesser while there was something greater to strive for?
I think I was aware while I was at school of this conflict. I never ceased valuing my home-life or relationships and never wanted consciously to deprive them of my energies and time. It was in my last semester that one of my instructors, innocently and with the best of intentions, encouraged me by telling me in a class session that I was 'More than just a mommy'. She wanted, I think, to indicate that I had intellect and potential, and I do value her intent in that. But as I've had the time now since graduating to step away from the conflict of values, more and more, I'm coming to realize how dissonant with my life such a statement is for me.
We're potty training Libby now (the baby, now toddler, I was taking to class with me during that last semester). We started last Friday. Today is day five. There are a number of accidents on our floors, so I am doing my best to keep everything I can up off the floor (not easy with five kids all stuck indoors in the wintertime!) and to keep the puddles mopped up after I chase the child to the potty. Sometimes another child discovers a puddle before I do. Then I wash her feet. And her socks. Yesterday Libby had a particularly gross accident. I couldn't get to her in time as she elected to have the emergency while I was changing a particularly messy diaper on Baby Penny. When I did get to her, I had to give her a shower (not to mention handwash the staircase and floors and toilet...). I began by just wiping off Libby's feet. I was feeling frustrated as I cleaned between each little toe. God, I thought in a silent prayer, I could be doing better things with my life! And the Spirit responded-- There is no greater calling than the work of a servant. The least of these are greatest.
I'm trying to learn that there is no greater thing to be looking forward to and that this time in my life isn't one to just 'get through'. Right now is the joy of my life. If I seek to serve in God's kingdom first, by being faithful to the work He gives me, I know He will add to my life in abundance, both now and in the future.
Jesus is asking me to wash the feet of His newest disciples. What greater thing is there?
I don't expect to make the papers though. And that's okay too.