This morning, during the rush of pre-school routines, preparing for my BodyPump class, thinking about the phenomenal ladies I was just on a girls’ trip with, I had a random memory come rushing back. Does that ever happen to you?
I remembered around this time last year having a meltdown mess that had me hauling my children off on a rainy afternoon to a friend’s house, in tears, with little notice to her. It was one of those needlessly emotional days where I just needed a friend.
How do these emotional messes of days start for you? Is it with a memory, a story, something that happens, a bad night’s sleep?
For me, it all had to do with a writing submission.
I have been trying to break out as a freelance writer a little more the past year, trying to spread my wings. This was at the beginning of my journey. On that day I had decided to pursue an opportunity I thought was achievable: I would submit a piece to a national Christian mothering magazine. Each quarter this publication has a theme and they are crystal clear on their prompts and what they are looking for.
I popped open the link for writers, looked at the deadlines coming next, and saw the theme. SERVICE.
“Talk about how you served someone today. Talk about what you do to serve people. Tell about a time that you performed an act of service for someone only to learn more about yourself. How does your life serving people help you be a better mom?” So on.
I don’t serve. I can barely make it to church every Sunday and my commitment to help teach Sunday School is flimsy at best. I began tutoring adult literacy one-on-one but that lasted a total of 3 visits before I had to bow out. I don’t know where our soup kitchen is or how to volunteer there. I forgot to bring in canned goods to donate to the needy at our VBS this summer. In short, I stink at service lately.
It hit me like a ton of bricks on that rainy day. I was at home with my young, demanding kids, pursuing a career that was not loving me back, trying to write an article I didn’t have the personal experience for, and I was a self-centered mess.
I felt terrible about myself, my life, my priorities, where I was, what I was doing, and where I was spending my time every day.
My friend helped me out of my (ironically) self-centered wallowing and told me to buck up and look at all I did do and what I had. She reminded me that life is about seasons, and phases. We simply weren’t in a season to spend significant time giving back to the community. It was our time to be family-centered. But it would change.
I skipped a submission.
This moment came hurling back to me this morning. Not sure why.
Amidst the chaos of a morning routine with a preschooler, a toddler, work to do, and a husband who was trying to get to an office by business hours, I realized that I was so very, very wrong. I serve. In a big way.
When I groggily pull myself out of bed, fighting every single fiber in my body that wants just 5 more minutes of sleep, to answer the call of my toddler so my husband can sleep before he spends all day in an office, I serve.
When I have to mute the music I am studying for the 4th time, going in to teach class completely unprepared, so that my preschooler can show me how he acts like a frog, I serve.
When both of my kids “go” at the same time (which as I have confessed, always happens) and I go to them immediately, without complaining or second thought, I serve.
When once again I am eating a granola bar in the car on the way to school as my breakfast since all morning time was spent making a healthy lunch for my child’s lunch bunch, I serve.
When my toddler is cranky and just needs to be held, when I pick him up to show him he is loved even though it will mean no make-up or styled hair for the day, I serve.
When I take a deep breath, remind myself to be calm and patient before replying to a temper tantrum or demand, I serve.
I serve in so many, many ways every day. I understand that right now 3 boys on the Earth are the primary recipients of my service. And I realize that I am not helping those human beings who have been unfairly dealt a tough hand in life with my acts.
But I am teaching love, unconditional and fully committed love, to all of the boys in my house. I like to think this radiates out. I hope that as my 3 feel love and acceptance from me, through my acts of service, they know what love is and can shine that love back on the world.
So forgive me fancy publication if I don’t have a story to tell about meeting the poor refugee or making eye contact with a homeless child at the soup kitchen. I want those stories, I do.
But for right now I have 2 little boys who need their mom most of the day (and night). When they can share me a little more, the rest of the world will get the pieces left over.