I recently read a chapter in a book by Donald Miller called _A Million Miles in a Thousand Years_ where he talks about writing down memories. He wonders what he will talk to God about on the other side, what acts of importance his life story told; but also more simply how few memories we retain of our past.
I have boxes of journals that I have kept since adolescence. I re read them all three years ago when I started working on my record hoping to come across a few gems that would inspire or become lyrics. I was amused that I went through a phase in college where I decided that every day I had to do something of importance and write it down, else my life was passing me by meaningless. I was one day closer to death and I wanted to make a difference. One day, one act at a time.
Some of these ‘acts’ were what others would call significant (I hope) like giving blood or that day I was late to French class because I helped a blind woman cross the street or reading a book with my son. Others may not seem so important such as my every day check in the box to an hour workout, using my new word of the day that came via email each day( I was in college afterall), making dinner not a frozen kashi meal or a sandwich, or trying a new yoga pose.
Two and half years into my life as an Army wife and mother to a 16 month old, I no longer struggle to make ends meet financially every month (singing, teaching aerobics, and side jobs acting) as a single mom to a now 14 year old. My husband provides that. I can be a stay at home mom, housewife. But I also walked away from a career (at least temporarily) as a songwriter/musician. Some days I really miss it: doing what I let the world convince me was ‘something important with my life- the career- using my university degree.’
Days go by and all I have done is cook, bake, clean, organize, walk, entertain and take in every breath of my son. But am I making a difference to anyone besides my husband and children? Would there be something to write every day in that journal of “Act of importance for the day?”
It took some time before I realized how terrible that question is. This season of my life is about being a wife and mommy. It is an enormous blessing. They should be the most important things and people in my life. It is more than okay that they are. It is more than okay that it brings me more joy than the applause after a great performance. I think God wants it this way.
Raising moral children with good values who will make contributions to society one day, this is significant. More significant than a fit body or a pretty song. So maybe teaching my toddler to climb stairs, to say ‘please’, to enjoy books, to literally smell the roses in the yard, matters to more than just me. Giving my teenager space and independence no matter how much it hurts me right now, hand writing letters, consistently speaking of choosing the right path not always the easy path; this is important. It matters. They are memories I will always have, I will hold on to. They bring me peace and a smile, even in the midst of struggle.
Yet, I also think it important to have a ministry outside our nuclear family. I will not argue against whether the wife’s ministry is her husband’s ministry, I do think that very practical in a season where one is child rearing. But I believe we are to reach out to our neighbors, our community, and the world at large. This looks different for everyone.
Perhaps it is volunteering: in the nursery at your church or your book club, the choir, a soup kitchen. Perhaps it is befriending the widows on your street and helping them with errands or baking an extra batch of cookies for them every now and then or mowing their yard. Perhaps you could sponsor a child through an organization such as world vision, or mentor a child locally at your child’s school or if you are a man, perhaps be a father figure to the kid down the street whose father left him or is too busy for him. Maybe you sew and you can make hats and booties for new babies at the hospital or blankets for the homeless. The possibilities are endless.
We can all use our unique gifting to bless those around us. And those of us with children, we are blessing and teaching our children to be generous and loving when we help or they help us to help those around us. These are memories worth making and if God does talk to us about them some day, I want to have as much to talk to him about as possible. I think that will be fun.