I've been blogging here for a year now. In that time, I've been very careful not to label myself as anything. I don't want to call myself a coupon blogger, or a christian blogger, or a cloth diapering/attachment parenting blogger because slapping a label on it niches me down too much and limits what I feel I can write about. I want to be able to write about whatever the hec I want to. So that being said, I haven't really felt much desire to write about my faith. At all. I've mentioned things here in there in random posts, but I tend to keep that part of my life separate from my blog. NOT because I'm ashamed or afraid, but just...cause. But tonight I found some old pictures in a box at my parents house from my first year of Bible School. I started thinking about those days and how awesomely phenomenal they were. Before Bible School, I wanted to travel the world and write books and discover ancient artifacts and basically live my life as Lara Croft. Kids were so NOT on my list of things to do before I turned 30. In fact, I couldn't imagine myself getting married or having kids until I was at least 25. And then I met Zach and we fell in love and God started doing some serious work in my life and all of a sudden everything changed. I was 19 and thinking about settling down with this brace faced skateboarder who'd crushed on just about every girl in our class. And then we talked about missions and reaching teenagers for Christ and saving the world one pubescent at a time. And then we got married and became youth pastors and everything in my life centered around church, prayer, worship, teenagers, Bible study, brainstorming ways to further the Kingdom of God.
And then I became a mom and everything changed again.
All of a sudden, the center of my world wasn't youth ministry or church. It was this little ball of awesome that God so graciously trusted us with. In an instant, I realized that being a mom was exactly who I was supposed to be. It was like every single thing I'd ever been through, everything I'd learned up until that point was to prepare me for my ultimate role. And so I started checking out. Not completely of course. I was still very involved in our ministry, and totally invested and committed to our church and teenagers, but things had changed inside of me. My priorities had changed. I understood from day one that my main focus would be and SHOULD be my kid. Nothing came before Jonah. Maybe I took that to an extreme at times. I hate to think that I hurt people or distanced people as I learned to balance my life a little more, but I was doing what my heart and soul demanded. I was CALLED to be a mom. God placed this divine role on my shoulders and how could I place anything, any person, any ministry, in front of it?
So I lost myself in this ultimate role of motherhood. Around my 25th birthday, when Jonah was almost a year old, I started getting really depressed. I had recently stopped nursing and felt like a failure. I was chubbier than I'd ever been and lacked any desire to change my lifestyle or eating habits. My closest friends were busy with their lives and I felt alone. Ministry wasn't going the way we thought it should and we were frustrated and feeling hopeless. I felt so stuck. Zach noticed. He was ready to pack me up and send me to Canada to stay with a friend for a couple weeks and get my issues worked out. But I knew that wouldn't solve anything. My problem wasn't my circumstances. It was me. It was my fault.
In my desire to be pleasing to God, to be the best at motherhood, to win some non-existent trophy, I totally and completely lost sight of myself, my marriage, my ministry and my relationship with Christ. And if I'm being honest (which I always am on here), I still haven't figured out the balance.
As I was looking at pictures of myself that were taken during a time where God was actively speaking to me and changing me, I started to choke up. My days in Bible School were so sweet, so life changing, and they are so far away from me now. I can never get them back. God was so real to me at that time and I find myself looking back to the good 'ole days and comparing my relationship with Him now to what it was then.
Which is ridiculous.
That time in my life was awesome, but it was a season, and it's over now. At the time, I naively thought that my life would always consist of prophecy and 24/7 prayer and constant worship, but that's just not the case. Life changes. Life happens.
I'm not a Bible School student anymore. I don't have time to pray for hours every day. Sometimes, I don't have time to pray at all. I squeeze in 15 minutes of Jesus time while I'm in the shower, if I even get to have a shower that day. Some days, the closest I get to God is when I'm sitting outside Jonah's door at night, crying, because I failed as a mom that day. Most days, I read more Dr. Seuss than Scripture.
I am totally 100% lost in my role as a mom, and I've come to terms with it. Last year, I was trying so hard to be the Kristen that woke up early every morning to pray, and heard God speak, and felt as close to Him as the air I breathed, while simultaneously being fully present in my son's life and fully present in my teenager's lives, and fully present in my husband's life. I allowed myself to be pulled in so many different directions and let guilt rule my heart when I failed. Now, I've realized that God's grace is sufficient for this mama. He doesn't expect me to do it all. To be it all.
I think the downside of Bible School is that the atmosphere and experience is so ideal for a follower of Christ, that we don't know what to do when it's not there anymore. We expect it all to come with us when we get out into the "real world", and when it doesn't, we feel like we're falling from grace. They don't teach you life things there. There's no class on how to be a passionate follower and example of Christ when you're working to make ends meat and don't know where your next check is coming from. They don't teach you how hard being a parent will be and how that will test your faith more than ANYTHING ELSE in life. There's no class on feeling lonely, being friendless, and the hurt in ministry that can rock your faith to its core. They don't teach you what life is like when you don't have people walking up to you and calling you out on things in your life that they have no business knowing. And they CERTAINLY don't teach you how to maintain your walk with Christ when all of a sudden you graduate and your support system is totally and completely gone.
It was never my school's responsibility to teach me those things, but I wish someone would've warned me how hard it would be. Maybe then I would've understood that God doesn't guilt his children into loving him more. Sometimes you have seasons of prayer and fasting and sometimes you have seasons of Cheerios and Super Why. Sometimes you wake up at the crack of dawn to intercede for some unknown cause, and sometimes you wake up at the crack of dawn to clean poop out of your hair. Each season is equally sacred.
I might not be going out and reaching the lost for Christ, but raising children is the greatest evangelistic endeavor. I don't hole myself up in a closet and pray for hours anymore, but I can assure you, as a parent, my prayers are shorter and more desperately fervent than anything I prayed before I had kids. I don't have times of intense one on one worship anymore, but I can tell you that there have been moments when we didn't know how we were gonna make it and God did something amazing. We might not have jumped up and down, "got the holy ghost", or fell on our knees in worship, but in the midst of changing diapers and punishing our kid for doing something stupid, our hearts have been filled with praise and overwhelmed with love. You can experience the sacred in the mundane. I know this for fact.
So, friends of mine, be encouraged. You can never be a failure in Christ if you belong to Him. His grace is sufficient for you and He is faithful even when we're not.