This is a little embarrassing to admit but I forgot my age. The other day my mother reminded me of my age, and it hit me. This year I will actually be 29 and not 28. Even closer to 30 than I thought. Let me add, there’s nothing wrong with getting older it’s actually a blessing. But I thought by now I should have it all figured out you know. Right after high school I landed a job as a secretary in a hospital that I love. I also went straight to college, but add in some heartbreak, and I blew it. I spent a lot of time flailing and trying to keep my head above the water. I was hurting and so lost, and instead of leaning into the pain I ran from it. I consumed my days with long shifts at work, and eventually gave up on college. I had no clue what I wanted to do career wise. I thought by my mid twenties I’d have it all figured out.
I gave myself this silly little mental deadline on when you should have it all together and boy was I wrong.
I went back to school, and went through the motions for nursing. I poked and prodded with a cadaver as I slathered my nose with Vick’s vapor rub to tone down the smell. I took notes, joined study groups, I went to work long hours and then came home to study hard. I tried I really did. Yet in the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I remember sitting in the school parking lot crying at the test scores posted online. What was I doing with my life? I was also working as a summer camp leader each summer. I loved being around kids.
I’ve worked retail, and fast food, but my hospital job has always been the consistent job in my life. Then in the midst of working multiple jobs, and dipping back into college, I met someone new. Little did I know that my life would absolutely never be the same. The lies came wrapped in a pretty little package and bow. Add in more time flailing through college for the career I didn’t want, and working the proposal came. I moved out and got my own place. I was working two jobs and struggling through.
Shortly after the shock hit as the pink lines became positive. Things changed, the promise of forever came with an ultimatum that I get rid of the baby. As if it were just something that could be erased and wiped away. Painfully I knew that wasn’t love, and without a second guess I chose my baby. At just twenty-one years old my life was turned upside down. I remember the confusion and tears hearing the words, blighted ovum and D & C. I felt so alone and so scared, but this still small voice inside said, “NO.” I remember getting a second opinion at another hospital that following week and hearing that strong heartbeat did something to me. It pushed me almost as if giving me all the more reason to fight. I reconciled with my mom and went back home. My co-workers threw me a big baby shower and bought me a stroller and car seat, tons of diapers, etc. I had so many people on my side, most importantly I was reminded that God never left my side it was me that ran.
A few short months after having my son I met my husband. He loved me at my worst and accepted my son as his own. The love he showed for him melted my heart. We now have had three kids since then, and almost 5 years ago said our vows alongside the ocean. We have basically grown through our twenties together. There have been many ups and downs. He has supported me through so much, and works extremely hard daily. I’ve seen him cry through the adoption of my firstborn, through the following births, through our wedding alongside the beach. And he has most definitely seen me cry through a lot. There has been so much growth together. We will have three kids in school next month…three! One in pre-k, kindergarten, and second grade. Time is flying by so fast.
I guess that’s why I have so desperately wanted something tangible to show for the passing of time. By now I thought I’d have some big career, a homeowner with a huge fenced in yard. You know the American dream. But what about the God dreams? When God called the disciples to follow Him, they dropped their nets and followed. Can you imagine that today, in this day and age. “Hey mom and dad, God called me to drop everything and follow Him. I don’t know where I’m going but I’m following.” That’s how God dreams are sometimes. To the outside they make absolutely no sense at all, but God already has it all planned out we just have to follow.
So often we equate big things with success, that we overlook the daily things. Recently my little brother got accepted into grad school, and I had a family member tell me that I’m getting older and should go back to school. It stung a little bit. My brother has worked hard, and I am proud of him!
I was watching tv earlier and I heard the words, “Today is the first day of the rest of your lives.” In that moment I have no clue why but I felt sudden nostalgia of my graduation day. I remember listening to the Graduation song (Friends Forever).
We were told after walking across that stage that was the first day of the rest of our lives. Hugs were given, and tears were shed. I remember the fear and thrill of thinking that my life was really about to start. And then there I was out in the real world in college,
waiting for this big sign, waiting to really “feel” like my life was starting.
Looking back maybe that is the lie we have all been told, and tricked into believing.
We are made to think that it takes some huge event for our lives to really start. We are made to think that losing weight, big career, and having more money equals a life well lived. And yet after that next pound is lost, and that next check is made, we
are still left waiting for more. What if really it doesn’t take walking across a stage, having the perfect body, and big bank accounts to start living our lives?
No, I can’t help but that think that God wants us to live our lives right here right now, in this very moment. Right now in the midst of the daily stuff, tending to little ones, breaking up sibling feuds, chaffering older kids to and fro, cleaning, laundry,
cooking, and everything else in between. And maybe you don’t have kids
by choice, or maybe you are still waiting for that positive test. The truth is, we are all waiting for something. We are waiting right now to buy a home. But we shouldn’t let the waiting make our lives feel any less valuable.
Right now in this moment we can live.
I have been a full-time working mom, part-time working mom, sahm (only
working once a month), back to a part-time working mom, now to seasonal working. Working in a hospital I’ve seen so many young new grads come in so goal oriented and passionate. I admire them for going after their dreams. I want that kind of certainty. I’m also quickly reminded by family that I too can go back and be a nurse. How even with kids it shouldn’t stop me. But what happens when the dream you have doesn’t line up with what society says is successful? I know without a doubt that I love to encourage and help others, it has always been the balm for my soul. To listen to others, I mean fully listen to their hearts and offer my own stories to lift them back up. Because I know what it’s like to be down.
After I got married my husband knew how much I loved photography and bought me a point and shoot camera. That camera was pivotal to where I am now with photography. I learned the ins and outs. Spent countless hours reading, researching, and practicing. I eventually bought a DSLR camera and new lenses. I came alive and still do capturing moments for people. But let me tell you what the scariest part was. Putting myself out there was terrifying. I did tons of free sessions practicing and learning. I’m still learning to this day, and have a long way to go.
I’ve done birth sessions, weddings, maternity sessions, and family sessions. I’ve been featured in my favorite bridal magazine. I critique myself when editing, I get scared of rejection. Yet nothing makes me happier than receiving messages from clients happy with their photos. I love every bit of freezing beautiful moments for others. Because, I know how happy I feel seeing photos of my own family. I guess you could call me a “creative.” However, what I’m not good at is newborns and I’m not afraid to admit it. I love newborns but photographing them just isn’t my gift. And when people ask me I’m quick to tell them that. I think I would have saved myself so much time had I admitted to myself that nursing wasn’t my gift. I spent so much time pretending and trying to please, because it’s what my family wanted me to do.
I have this passion burning inside me to connect with others through my writing and through images. I get emotional over editing pictures for others eager to send them their images. It’s silly I know but I a deep feeler, and I get excited and anxious over things like that. I stay up late writing when the words hit me I have to get them out. It’s a fire, one that can’t be tamed no matter how hard I try. My mind races non stop always thinking. I guess that explains why I was diagnosed with anxiety after having my second child. But the writing is what keeps me grounded almost as if processing my thoughts on paper.
Since writing this I thought of what I would tell my kids if they were older and came to me feeling like they had nothing to show for. Maybe that question helps to put things in perspective for me a little bit better.
What advice would you give your kids if they came to you later feeling the way you feel right now?
A letter to my kids,
You all are my world, but there’s someone who loves you more than me. His name is Jesus. There’s absolutely one thing that I want the most for you. It cannot be found in any extra curricular activities, classes, or career path you choose. Yes, those things are great and I am cheering for you to learn and expand your horizons as you grow. But there’s something more deeper than that, something that will bring me the greatest joy. And that’s to seek Jesus and to know Him with your whole heart. That glow in your eyes as you each wake up ready to seize the day. Eagerly unwrapping all the endless possibilities squeezing the life out the day all the way up to bedtime. Don’t ever lose that glow, that passion, and that joy. Because no matter what everyday really is a gift. Don’t let relationships, bills, hardships, and life ever rob that joy from you. Right now you can’t comprehend the true motives of the devil and just how evil he is. But listen he is real and he will try to rob you of that joy you have. He doesn’t come in all noticeable and flashy like some cartoon villain. No, he creeps in unnoticeable in the everyday stuff. He creeps in and tries to settle in. He will have you feeling like you don’t matter and that the stuff you are doing doesn’t matter. Once he is really cozy he will have you feeling uncertainty, guilt, comparison, jealousy, anger, and everything else to deter you from God. Kids, that is why you have got fill your heart with Jesus. It’s not going to be easy, you will fail you will feel like you can’t do it. But you can! You’ve got to be so full of Jesus, that the devil has no room to creep in. Don’t get caught up trying to make a name for yourself that you forget to make a name for Jesus. And whatever makes you come alive, no matter how big or small do more of that. Always do more of that!
So to end this I really don’t have the correct answer, on what to do when you feel like you have nothing to show for the years that have passed. I have come to learn that every moment of my twenties has been important. Every hurt, failure, struggle, births, finding love, all of it. And most importantly the running from God. Why? Because it made the run back to Him all that much more glorious. I learned that apart from Him I am nothing. I learned that He never left me, even when I ran He was still pursuing me, and still working out things for my good.
I just cleaned up the living room from my tiny tornado of a one year old, and he has some how made a mess once again. I could be quick to say I have nothing to show for today’s hard work. But I know that would be a lie. Motherhood is hard, scratch that…life is hard. But maybe the greatest thing we can do is to lean into the hard.
Love in spite of the hard. Show up in spite of the hard. Help in spite of the hard. Try again in spite of the hard. Commit in spite of the hard. To have faith that, in spite of the hard you are being stretched, and shaped into the very person you were created to be.
Maybe just maybe that’s the kind of stuff that our souls long for the most to show for.