A few weeks ago, I heard a woman speaking on Focus on the Family. If I looked hard enough, I could probably determine who she is, but since I'd rather blog than research, I will simply tell you what she said that stuck in my head and will not leave. "Let God write your mothering story." As a writer, the line appealed to me so I began pondering it. If I were to write my mothering story it would look something like this: enjoy every moment of pregnancy (never refer to unborn child as parasite); have a blissful natural delivery; dress child from infancy in darling, clean, clothing; nurture his mind and spirit every waking moment; when it is time to start preschool, investigate all possibilities; interview teachers; drive child to and from school everyday with a special snack when we get home....
I have come to the conclusion that my version of the story is not only dull, but impossible. It was as though I could hear God saying, "get real, darlin'! You can't do that. You don't even want that. Step back and let me do this. I'm a very, very good story teller." And as if to prove himself, He has started out by working the irony angle.
I was never into playing with dolls--Barbies don't count. I only babysat for the money. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I only knew what I didn't want to do--be a teacher. I love my kids, but other peoples'? They're OK. I like them well enough. With a four-year-old in the house, I think about pre-school a lot. Paul and I decided long before we had kids that we were keeping them home until first grade. I cannot be convinced that a stranger with a room full of kids is going to be able to do a better job teaching my child his alphabet. Maybe he will learn to sit quietly and raise his hand when he wants to speak, but maybe he'll be the one that runs around like a crazy person. Maybe he'll learn to build meaningful relationships, but maybe he'll learn that kids can be mean. I know my son and I know myself and I can say with all confidence, preschool is not a good environment for him. Keep in mind as you are reading this that this is me and my kid. You and yours have a different story entirely. Although there is probably still some irony involved.
So I decided long ago to do homeschool preschool. We aren't very consistent, but we both enjoy it. And then came MOPs. A church in the area needed help in their childcare program. I decided to help out mainly because I am so blessed by the childcare provided during my women's Bible study. I am able to learn and fellowship with other grown ups and know my kids are taken care of. So I thought I'd do it as a way to be able to let other moms enjoy the same opportunity. It didn't take long for me to be certain I had lost my mind. I kept doing it, because I really felt that God wanted me with those kids, but I was going bonkers in the meantime. Then along came the opportunity to lead the class. "Nope," I said definitively, convinced the only thing more stressful than supervising would be leading. Then one day I had to fill in in a pinch. And much to my own shock and awe, I enjoyed it. Not only did I feel like I was helping the moms out, but I was suddenly investing in the lives of their kids. I watched their faces light up when I told the story that morning and remembered encountering Jesus when I was their age. What they learn about Jesus now will follow them their entire lives, weather they keep going to church or not. It struck me what a profound influence and opportunity I had with them.
But I still wanted to quit. However, I hate disappointing people, and I knew what a hard time the leader had finding people, so I procrastinated giving her the bad news. And then it was too late. I received an e-mail from her asking so sweetly if I could please lead the week back after the Christmas break. She was looking hard for a leader, but things hadn't come together yet. I could say no...
I was half way through the e-mail resigning when I started thinking about those little people. I deleted it and started over. I agreed to lead the class for the rest of the year before I had time to even think about what I was doing. Clearly God had a plot twist in mind.
A week and a half later, I was approached to teach the preschool Sunday School class at church. What?! No. No way. No way. No. I said I'd think about it, and God and I commenced to fighting. I finally decided that God clearly wanted me to say yes and I could fight Him all I'd like, but I knew who was going to win. In Bible study we were discussing destiny. From a human perspective, assuming one's destiny often requires a dramatic change of direction. A 180 in your mindset. Well, that certainly applied. But Destiny? Really? I had better plans for my destiny than pre-school Sunday school. "Oh really." Was the answer I received for that one. I agreed to do it despite my bitterness and discovered something else in the process. Just because you say yes, doesn't mean you have to have a good attitude about it. Frankly, it's fun being a martyr. It helped thinking of it as sacrificing my will for the greater good. But I still wasn't happy about it. Another thing we learned in Bible study is that we are offered great courage. we can go into a frightening situation afraid, or we can go into it confidant. I took the same principal and applied it to joy. Joy is a choice. The only way to get happy is to be happy. Just do it, as they say. So I did. Meanwhile, I have not yet had the opportunity to apply the joy in the Sunday School setting, so I'll let you know how that comes out, but in the meantime, I've stopped complaining. That's the first step.
And what if this is my destiny? I will not deny that I find that the prospect frightening, but I know God has the plot under control. And even if the middle part is kind of yucky, the ending is going to be amazing!