When I sat in front of my spiritual director last Friday, trying to relay to her how I’m overwhelmed with the sudden busyness in my life—part time job, poetry writing gig, the emotional alterations of moving, the exhaustion of pregnancy, August’s latest nap antics—I wanted to be given an answer. I always want an answer to how to live more simply, more peacefully: If I were more organized! If I could just live with less sleep! If I only had more discipline in my life!
Instead, Debby said: “What does God have for you in this?”
I should know what to expect by now in our meetings. I wait for the encouragement to work harder, do better, pray longer, and instead, this dear woman asks me what God wants to say to me in my exhaustion.
She told me she had a mental image of me as a piece of stone with a crack down the middle, being chiseled into two pieces. On one side is the part of me that belongs to God, the part that earnestly wants to love him and find life in him. On the other side is the part of me that needs to prove myself valuable. Why am I stressed about working 10 hours a week? Because I need to do it in order to write and so far, I haven’t found the time for both. I need to write in order to give life to a book idea I’ve been tending for the past year. I need to write a book because I believe I can and because I want to. But also because I need to prove that I can; I need you to know that I have value.
Why do I need you to value me? This past year, I have written over and over (in different ways) about how difficult it’s been for my sense of my self to be a stay at home mom. It isn’t hard because I’m a woman who has to work outside the home to find joy. (I’ve never really been great at “work.”) It’s difficult because I care what our culture believes about me based on my staying home. I want to prove that I’m not lazy, I’m not oppressed, and I’m not bored. I want to have succeeded in being the writer I’ve always dreamed of being.
And in my head, I have four months to do it. Four months before this baby arrives and I’m lost in a world of breastfeeding and soothing and sleeplessness and the job of parenting two. I’m afraid I’m going to fail.
So, what does it mean to ask God what he has for me in this season of exhaustion? What does it mean to realize how little what you think of my success means to my value? What does it mean to really believe that my value is completely separate from my ability to do everything beautifully and with ease?
How do I begin to move toward a life when the other half of me is finally chipped away and all I am is God’s?