Look at this picture of contentment captured in 2007. The contentment of the sleeping babe is obvious, but it is the peace of the mama that most interests me. I am that mama, and I can tell you that having a newborn for the third time was a season of life in which I’ve never been more content. Part of it may have been that we lived in Florida, where the living is easy. Another factor could be that my husband, because of his new job and lack of hellacious commute, was much more present in our day-to-day life than he had been with our older two sons. But more than outward reasons, I was just in my groove. Mothering was coming more and more naturally. I didn’t feel an ounce of pressure to be anything outside of wife and mother. I was thirty-five. I knew who I was and what my purpose in life entailed. I could sit like this with Sam on my shoulder for hours and watch the older boys play and not feel like I needed to be reading or writing or using my gifts. I was exhausted at the end of the day and didn’t worry about not making a contribution to the world outside my own little family.
I realize there are millions of mamas who do not feel this way about mothering little ones. They find it monotonous and full of drudgery. I had the older two close enough together to know long days whereby a good and brief summation would be: I changed diapers. Every season has hard moments. But of all the stages of my life — and I’ve led a mostly charmed life — the thing I have felt I did the best was mother.
I have told my husband that as I transition out of mothering little ones (my youngest is eight), and prepare to go back to work on a part-time basis (yes, good gracious this job thing is taking it’s sweet time to get going), I am mourning the end of the era where I feel like I shined the most.
The thing is you may not relate to that at all, but what I know you can relate to is that a strong sense of purpose breeds contentment. The picture above illustrates purpose just as much as it does contentment, and purpose may never be that simple again. Certainly no snapshot could so aptly encapsulate my life now. And I’m not alone in that. Forty-something women aren’t always the most purpose-driven. Mothering is still vital — our kids need us just as much in all kinds of respects, even if we don’t wipe their bottoms. Yet we have time to devote to other things. Using this time wisely seems to be an ongoing struggle for many of us. The transition seems to be one of stops and starts. I want to be prayerful and wise and discerning as I navigate this phase. I want to be grateful, of course, because I know that giving thanks is a chronically overlooked key to joy.
But I am also praying for a stronger sense of purpose. What am I called to do in this next season? How can I achieve that glorious feeling that I had above: this, THIS, is what I am meant to do!
As I wait on clarity of purpose for how I should spend the little bit of spare time I have, I’ll cling to these truths:
- My ultimate purpose is to glorify God and love Him forever.
- I am called to love my neighbor as myself (and boy am I doing a poor job of this, perhaps next Friday I’ll tell you a funny but horrific tale of what a terrible neighbor I am).
- The story of my life is the same day after day, year after year, through every season: it is all grace upon grace.
John 1:16 says, “For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace,” so I hope you recognize “grace upon grace” as your story too. I hope you know the contentment of living out your macro purpose – glorifying God, and your micro purpose as well. In short, I hope your life downright reeks of contentment.
Have a fabulous weekend!