Wednesday, November 28, 2012

life with purpose

It was spring but it was summer I wanted; the warm days and the great outdoors.
It was summer but it was fall I wanted; the colorful leaves and the cool dry air.
It was fall but it was winter I wanted; the beautiful snow and the joy of the holiday season.
It was now winter but it was spring I wanted; the warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child but it was adulthood I wanted; the freedom and the respect.
I was twenty but it was thirty I wanted; to be mature and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged but it was twenty I wanted; the youth and the free-spirit.
I was retired but it was middle-age that I wanted; the presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over but I never got what I wanted.

This poem makes me tear up now, reading it again as I type, just like it did the first time I read it last night during my devotions. Probably because it is so me.

I have always been the one who is ready for the next season, both in nature and in my life.  I've always assumed that it was just normal, to be looking ahead to what will come next in my life, and even good, to always be looking forward to what my future will hold.  But now that I am a mom, and time is just flying by so quickly, and I have all the things I dreamed about when I was a little girl (an amazing husband, a lovely little home, and a beautiful baby), I feel like this habit of mine, this looking ahead to tomorrow, is robbing me of my today.

Even worse, it is blinding me to my true purpose here on earth.  I love being a wife and mother, I love it so much that some days I look at my son and I just can't believe that this is really my life.  I really am married to my best friend, and we really have been blessed with a child, the most amazing gift that either of us has ever received.  Yet because of the responsibilities that come with these roles, I often get so caught up in things that don't really matter.  I have what Linda Dillow (the author of the devotional book I'm reading right now) calls "a faulty focus."  In her book, she writes that "Often women without direction live not only dot-to-dot but on hold, waiting - for the right job, the right man, a baby.  Waiting for the baby to grow up and leave home - waiting for something to give their life meaning.  Their faulty focus makes contentment an impossible dream (p. 108)."  For me, this is so true.  I have gotten so caught up in waiting for and looking forward to these events in my life that I think will give deeper meaning and provide the ultimate contentment, and in some ways, they have.  But it is very fickle, and some days, I will admit, I'm not content, not at all.

It's hard work to be a wife, and it's even harder to be a mother.  Nothing has ever made me feel so frustrated, out of control, and just plain crazy like motherhood has.  And no matter how much I love my child, sometimes I just can't see past the struggles of the moment to find that contentment that I thought would be there.  Sometimes I am so tired, and I just wish I could go back to before, when I was kid-free.  I wish for just one night of completely uninterrupted sleep, no waking up to that silence right before the baby starts crying, heart thumping just waiting and listening.  The funny thing is, during that period in my life I took it all for granted, because I was so anxious to move on to the next stage in my life and have a baby. Ironic Sad, isn't it?

What's even more sad, is that I'll never find the contentment I'm looking for by being a wife and a mother, or by getting the perfect job, or looking exactly how I want to look.  Nothing I can do will make me content.  I will only find the contentment that I'm looking for by cultivating a stronger relationship with my Heavenly Father, and by trusting his will for my life.  Ephesians 5:15-17 says, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."  The notes for these verses in my MacArthur Study Bible explain that we are to make the most of our time on this evil earth in fulfilling God's purposes, lining up every opportunity for useful worship and service.  How many hours and days have I wasted focusing on myself and my ridiculously tiny little problems rather than spending that time in service to others who really need it?  How many mornings have I spent 30 minutes (or more) browsing apps on my phone before starting my day, then complaining to friends and family that I don't have time to pray or read my Bible on a daily basis?  Why am I robbing myself of the opportunity to live each day to the fullest by always looking ahead to what comes next?  James 4:14 says, " do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."  I want my life, however short or long it may be, to have a purpose.  I want to know that purpose, and to chose to live with it in mind each and every day.

I love what 18th century pastor Jonathan Edwards wrote about his life purpose [this is just a sampling, he made seventy such resolutions - Iain H. Murray, Jonathan Edwards:  A New Biography (Carlisle, PA.:  Banner of Truth Trust, 1987), pp 42-44.]:

Resolved, to live with all my might while I do live.
Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, to improve it in the most profitable way I can.
Resolved, never to do anything I should despise or think meanly of in another.
Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
Resolved, never to do anything that I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

All of those resolutions are things I'd like to aspire to as well, but there is one that I think needs to come before all others in my own life.  Because to live with purpose and find contentment in my life here on earth, I must seek out my Heavenly Father in prayer and in his word and work hard on knowing him as a mix of friend and father, not as an unreachable and inaccessible figure that silently watches and controls from afar.  So I must add my own resolution to the list, and work on correcting my faulty focus and instead living each day with purpose.

Resolved, to walk in the presence of the Sovereign King.