Something has been grabbing my brain lately with the most inexplicable sensation of pleasure, and I hear myself exclaiming:
“This!” I yelled as I ran through the trees on the mud run with my best friend.
“This!” I sighed as I sat in the sand with my husband and baby, while the girls built castles at the ocean.
“This!” I cried as I walked into the living room to YouTube videos of kiteboarding set to dance music. My girls squealed as they saw riders loft 20 feet into the air, and listened to me say that they could do that too when they’re older.
The funny thing was, I didn’t even know there was a question I had been carrying around in my head. But I found myself these past few months yelling out, “This!” at unexpected times.
What was that all about?
What were the questions that were stumbling across answers?
After sitting with it for a while, I found they were something along the lines of:
What lights my fire?
Who am I anymore?
How do I want to live my life, both now and when the kids are grown?
What am I totally into, when I’m honest with myself?
Where does joy and energy bubble up for me?
The fire ring inside was sparking to life.
Because life in these little years is an act of self-denial and service. I do things that I don’t want to do, all day, every day. I love my kids, but caring for them is plain old work. It’s called adulthood. It’s called mommyhood. It’s called paying bills on time with the baby pulling my hair. It’s waking 2-3 times a night to nurse or soothe bad dreams. It’s packing lunches, making breakfast, cooking dinner, and never getting a full handle on the dishes. It’s dealing with base selfish desires in my little people, who daily mistreat and disrespect me and each other. It’s disciplining in love, or calling a time out until I can figure out what the heck to do in any given circumstance.
There are rich rewards of building character and being refined by the Lord in these little years. And there are a bajillion opportunities for refinement. Lucky us, huh girls?
“Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4
It’s true: Solid character was never hewn out of the foundation of ease and success.
And you can take that one to the bank, sister.
But there can be something missing in these times. Beyond the brooding mama-bear instincts to protect and feed, there is a space inside like a fire ring. The fire always burns, but sometimes it only feels like warm ashes. It’s the place where you have meaningful conversations with yourself. It’s the place where you decide for yourself. It’s the place where you choose to dance, or jump off a cliff into the water, or push your throttle up to 50mph and flip open your helmet visor. It’s the place that stokes hotter every time you visit it. This, THIS is the place I would stumble into every so often these past few months. It feels irresponsible. It’s totally unhelpful to anyone else. But good Lord! Does it feel good – both in my body and my brain.
When I touch that place that sparks up, I touch a beacon – a trail-marker that is terribly important. It points out who I am, and how I was formed uniquely by God. It’s what I tend to do when I’m not paying attention, but simply being. As a person who learned as a kid to do what I ought for approval, there is something deliciously criminal about this idea. But I sincerely believe that this fire ring, this space deep in our guts, is sacred. I think it’s ultimately essential to who we are, not only as moms, or wives, but as humans.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:14
My THIS is outside – doing wondrous things with my body. Hiking up a mountain. Kayaking on the ocean. I have plans to learn how to surf. I have plans to be terrible at it for a very long time. Way before we knew each other, my husband and I each rode the extreme sports wave of the 90’s. He was definitely one of the cool adrenaline junkie’s. My style was not so much fast and furious, but I fancied myself a rugged explorer: cutting my own snowboard path through the trees, or climbing every rock I could to catch the view from the top.
But, there are things these days one cannot quite do with an ergo baby carrier strapped on front.
My days are spent largely indoors, scouting every new environment for baby friendly aspects or spaces for my little one to roll around safely, much the same as a medic will automatically scan new places for appropriate helicopter landing pads, should the need arise. It’s just how we are wired.
Honestly girls, my most favorite has been THIS: the very thing you’re reading. I so enjoy writing for this blog. It has been incredible sharing my heart with you and hearing your heart in return. The act of writing and posting gives me the biggest kick. It’s how I’m wired. And I’m truly grateful to be here.
So then, I’m curious: what makes you shout with unexpected excitement? What grabs you by the nose and transfixes your eyes? Around your own personal fire ring, what do you converse with yourself about? What is your THIS in these little mommy years?