by Christie Browning
Recently I participated in a group discussion that centered around the question, "What is true greatness?" The room was filled with women and the majority of them were stay-at-home moms. Although the large majority of them were about my age, I felt completely in the minority since I've never had kids and definitely not a stay-at-home type.
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There is nothing wrong with being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), in fact, my mother was such when I was growing up and my sister and sister-in-law are both SAHMs to their adorable children. But for me, that desire was never instilled in my being. In fact, I was pregnant once and upon finding out I was expecting, I cried knowing that I would have "to give everything up" in order to be home with my kid. Then after losing that baby in an early miscarriage, I felt depressed and ashamed that I selfishly didn't want to give it all up to be a mom. I was a mess....the shifting emotions probably had something to do with that.
In this room full of moms, stories were being shared that included finding joy and privilege in doing household chores and making meals. Several women shared how they found appreciation in those daily jobs even when they weren't always vocalized by the family members she served. They mentioned the blessings that were afforded to them because they were obedient in motherhood and were cheering each other on in the cause. Through the noise, a woman piped up and reminded the group that not everyone was a SAHM. Her inference was to remind the group that those women who needed or chose to work shouldn't feel guilty.
I sat there listening to the well-meaning conversation, trying to not get worked up. I've been in situations were I was made to feel less-than because I didn't give birth or wasn't developing baby fever. I seriously thought something was wrong with me when I was younger and all my friends were having their first babies and I was still standing there thinking, "what's all the fuss?"
So when this wise woman reminded the group that not every woman was on the same page in life, I wanted to stand and cheer. Not only was she my hero in that moment, but I also applauded her for realizing what so many women miss -- that our value and worth isn't defined by our roles.
The discussion was indeed about finding greatness, and the lesson material lead this conversation to see greatness not by worldly standards, but by God's - which usually means small, daily acts is where greatness is found. That being said, I get why these moms were honed in on folding laundry and cooking casseroles. And believe me, my mom was great and what she did for us as a SAHM was invaluable. I truly appreciate and applaud the SAHM.
However, whether you are a SAHM, a career oriented business woman, a student or work simply because you like it or have to do it, don't get caught in the trap of attaching your worth and identity to the roles you hold and the hats you wear. When we do that, we tend to leave ourselves open for hurt and disappointment... it can even lead to confusion.
You've seen it before -- a woman is all about being a mom to her kiddos only to realize she doesn't know what to do with herself when her last baby isn't a baby anymore. Or the woman who is so consumed with doing for everyone else - laundry, cooking, cleaning, educating, teaching - that she doesn't know how to take a break and let someone else do the doing. And we see women who fall into depression when there's a disconnect between who they are and what they do. Their value is warped when children don't offer appreciation or when they make decisions mom wouldn't approve. The conversation in the mind and heart is "where did I go wrong? I must have failed as a mom." The reality couldn't be farther from the truth, but when we attach our value, our significance and our identity to roles and jobs we hold, our hearts rest on shaky ground, hoping our success rate keeps up in order to make us feel "good."
So what does that mean for us as women? Where does our greatness lie? Well, it is in WHO we are not WHAT we do. Who we are as women, as moms, as wives and sisters. It's in who we are because of the Heavenly Father and how He created us. Greatness is already ours because we live! You are great just because you are you!
Psychological cliches aside, grasping the concept of greatness can be hard -- especially when some much of the world is built around what we do. However, we can stay fixated on the truth of greatness by filling our minds with God's promises to us, His instructions for us and His love given to us. Here's a few things that can help you as well:
- Journal - I believe journaling is a powerful tool for healing the heart and offering perspective and clarity. In this instance, perspective is what you are going for. When you feel like you are slipping into the "what I do" mindset, refer back to your journal and all the things you've written that point to the opposite.
- What to journal - When my heart and mind go off the depend, I like to write lists. Especially a list of things I am good at, I like about myself or that personal talents and abilities I have. This list reminds me that it's not a job I am going after, but it's about being me and living in the special, unique gifts God has given me. So... I write down 5 things I am gifted at and how I can use those things today or tomorrow. It picks up your spirits and boosts your confidence!
- Keep accountable - who's that gal who might talk you off the ledge? She's your accountability go-to girl when you start to struggle in this area. We don't need 20 accountability gals...one or two will do. Find her and work together to keep the greatness quotient in check.
The real lesson here isn't whether being a SAHM is important or greater than someone who chooses a career. The real thing to remember is that no matter what you choose to do with your days, your worth exists in who you are. You wouldn't use a yard stick to measure the depths of the ocean... so don't let roles and responsibilities measure your incredible worth to the world.
And that is a whole new way to #liverevised!