Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No One's Looking

Today's been successful so far.  The little kids are happily sleeping, no diaper or potty accidents, and I actually stripped my bed, washed my sheets, remade the bed, and unpacked a suitcase from *ahem* last week.  The sink has been empty once today, too!  And no meltdowns.

But even on the best of days, there will be very little audible or measurable thanks.  Yes, I married the kind of man who will thank me for dinner even if it's leftovers.  But for most of the things I do, the thanks comes silently over time.  Maybe even not at all.

The beginning of my mommy career came at the end of my band career.  There is a long story of how God readied me for that, how he tapered my involvement at school, and oh, the many wonderful kids I've been blessed to know!  Some of the relationships remain on different levels.  But oh, how I loved my job!  While I have always been thankful for this opportunity, it was truly a loving sacrifice to carve it out of my life.  Notice I said loving... not easy.

Since I was a little girl in day care, someone set my schedule.  Show up here, eat here, do this, don't do that, wear this, don't wear that.  There were always guidelines, peers to go with or against, places to go, things to do, deadlines to meet, goals to work toward.  To be perfectly honest, I was six or seven months into my stay at home mom-ness before I recognized myself in the mirror.  In my first job, I was teacher of the month before I received my certification in the mail, so enjoyed the concerts and contests, and the kids?  Oh man, how I adored the kids!  I loved being in a store when some unsuspecting kid would see me, freak out, and tackle me in the aisle.

It was even more than I dreamed it could be.

As a stay at home mom, things were different.  No concerts to show my work.  No teacher evaluations to ace.  Not a single kid recognized me anymore at the store!  Add to that a baby who was just as sweet as could be, but didn't progress as he should developmentally and I was a confused being.  My mom worked hard, long hours.  Every woman I could think of worked at some point, and I just wasn't sure how to do things.  How often do you do floors?  How do you do floors?

It felt like everything I'd ever worked toward was tossed into that stainless steel garbage can we received as a wedding gift.  I felt guilty.  I should be working.  But no, I should be home.

Over time, I learned how to set my own goals.  I'm still learning how to keep the house clean.  But the biggest thing remains to be the need for someone to say, "well done."

I had left my self-worth at the band hall.

One day, right around the time Richie was born, I was talking to my good friend M on the phone.  We were discussing how we're to do everything to the glory of God, whether we're rescuing people from fires or folding socks at home alone.

For years I've mulled that over.  I've stirred it in my heart every now and again, trying to get my mind around it.  We really are to do our best, even when no one is watching.  No, scratch that... ESPECIALLY when no one is watching.

Why especially when no one is watching?  Shouldn't we display who we are for all the world to see as loudly as we possibly can?  I'm not going to say never.  There is a time and a place for speaking up and making known our opinions, our importance in this world and how we believe for whatever reason, it ought to be, whatever "it" is.  I'm not advocating life as a shut-in, a doormat, or anything like that.

Take my folding socks.  Will the world stop turning if I don't get all the socks sorted correctly, or at all?  Certainly not.  But when Eric goes to get a pair for Ryan when we're trying to leave the house, whether or not he finds these easily could have bearing on his overall attitude.  If I don't buy everything we need at the grocery store or I don't choose to pick up and teach the kids to pick up toys, stop a second to think about the residual effects.

Let's take one more step.  If I'm not doing what I should, at home, the office, school, or wherever, what does that say about the condition of my heart?  Am I operating out of love and giving, or out of a spirit of greed?  If all I'm interested in is praise, I need to put myself in the corner to think.

Once in a conversation with my dear mother-in-law, I learned something I hadn't thought of.  The temple, in biblical times, was decorated to the hilt.  Gold this, solid gold that, silver this, the best wood that.  You know what else?

No one saw it but the priests.  Everyone else stayed in the outer courts.

Why in the world go to all that trouble?  Dig around in the Old Testament a bit.  Look at the descriptors of how things were to be built.  The instructions were insanely specific and intricate.  These things were to be built in accordance to God's divine instructions, made for him and his glory.

What does that say about what we do when no one is looking?

A lot about the state of our hearts, that's what.

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God" ~1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV

Why bring up eating and drinking?  Well, you don't have a choice of whether to breathe one sleeping isn't truly a choice... so whatever choices you make, even down to the simplest of things, do them the way God would do them.  Make the Father proud, in other words.

Thankfully, when we do fall short like I have today, even on a good day, there is grace, mercy, and love.  There is scripture and there are friends, music, and so many other wonderful gifts for restoration.

What about me?  Well, my self worth finally exists closer to where it should.  I still have my moments.  To be brutally honest, I have my days.  But there is always grace and mercy.

Thanks be to God, indeed, for grace and mercy.

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