“Sometimes we have to figure out what our calling is not in order to find out what it is.” s. kim henson
No doubt there are moms and dads called to full-time parenting, grandparents called to full-time grandparenting, and wives, daughters, and sisters called to helping their families around the clock, but I’m not one them. Not now, anyway. It was a weird day when I thought, Maybe family’s not my calling.
Even though I’ve been restless for a while about getting my own life, I wasn’t comfortable with the message. After all, family’s been my life even as a child. I remember being compliant when mom walked me to school even though the other kids on the Air Force base walked alone. As a teen, I accommodated my parents instead of friends. When I was a young adult and with a family of my own, I continued to cater to what I thought my parents wanted. I carried on this same sense of care and responsibility into marriage and parenting, and maybe a little too far as my children grew up.
While journaling one day, I wrote several pages about my calling not being family, “God, could this be your way of prompting me to focus more on my purpose and less on what I think they expect?”
“They” included my husband, my two grown children, and their growing families. I answered my own question. God wants more attention, of course, even though I can’t imagine he’s displeased with the attention I’ve given my family. For more than four decades, my parents, my husband, and my two children have been the reasons I’ve gotten out of bed every morning. My daughter and I got excited about the idea I came up with not long ago, “What if, instead of writing, being a grandmother is my calling?”
We laughed because we both knew this wasn’t the case, even if I’d prefer it. After all, I’m good at being Mammy.
I’ve had to come to terms with why letting go of my family’s been hard, and I’m not the only one who’s figuring it out. While researching parenting as a calling, I stumbled on a book I added to my reading list. It’s by Christian author and mom of six grown children, Lesley Leyland Fields. The title is “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling” and 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt.
My guess is, there are a lot of women like me who feel a pull to do something in life besides family, but family is a strong force to contend with. There are also women who don’t want to move on past family, but it’s good for us and for them when we get our own lives. They need us to let go and move on so they can too.
Mostly it’s hard to let go of family because my husband and children are where my devotion lies. There’s nothing I’ve wanted more than to be a wife and mother. To this day, I can’t think of anything more fulfilling, although I have dreams gaining momentum.
On a lazier and less loving note, family is an easier choice than my dreams. I’ve kept my life intermingled with theirs because my role as mom is a familiar one. I know how to do it and I pretty much know the results it will reap.
And, like Lesley mentions in her book title, there’s the worry and guilt that make it hard to let go. I get afraid sometimes when I see them go through tough times and I think I can do more than I can to help. I haven’t shaken the “shoulds.”
Getting my own life, which to me means answering God’s calling, also means I’m venturing into unknown territory and, to tell you the truth, I’m not all that adventuresome. I say this, but something stirs inside of me when I hear the word “adventure,” and when I step into that adventure by making videos, contemplating public speaking, and dabbling in watercolor.
Writing all of this is strange for me because I’m sure I’ll be misunderstood. It sounds like I’m jumping ship on my family or saying they don’t matter or even that they’re not as important as all the things I want to do, but that’s not it. Writing this is more about trying to convince myself and other women that it’s time to reprioritize our motivation (why we get out of bed), our mission, and our minutes, and I think God’s all for it. After all, I would have never thought this up on my own, Maybe family’s not my calling.
I believe by living our lives, we help our families to better live theirs.
Next week, I’ll write more about our callings. For now, I’m getting comfortable with what my calling is not. I’d love to hear from you about family and your calling or anything you’d like to share.
In This Together,