The following post is authored by Becky Swanberg. She graduated from Grace University with her Bachelors of Science in 2004. Becky describes herself as, “a wife, mom, writer, book lover, and Dr. Pepper enthusiast.”
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Sometimes I reflect on where I thought my life would go. I remember how I wanted to live overseas and master a foreign language and study the culture all around me. I remember the smells of an open air market place and the sparse rooms in the orphanage and the ragged goats that wandered like cats down the uneven brick streets. I remember how I looked around me, gazed at round orphan eyes and wide gypsy grins and tired missionary shoulders, how I looked and I thought, “This. This matters. This is what I’m going to do with my life.”
Or maybe not.
A decade and a few years later, l’m settled into a life that looks a lot less radical and a lot more mainstream that I had anticipated. Omaha, marriage, kids, house, minivan. At times I wake up and think, “Really? This is where I ended up?” I ask it of myself, not with regret (I wouldn’t undo any of those choices) but with surprise, as if the reality and the speed of it all has caught me off guard.
Eight years into my journey as a mom, it’s been a gentle leading, that is for sure. There have been years of ministry and years of rest. There have been seasons of celebrating life and seasons of mourning loss- loss of babies and close family and changing relationships. My own kids are growing so quickly (my boys are eight and six, my girls are four and two.) I could say so much about the intensity of motherhood and the frustrations with myself and the reality that it just never ends. But what strikes me most is this: almost a decade in, I find that motherhood is a lot like discipleship.
Being a mom, much like following Christ, is a series of choices that are made every day. It’s not flashy, not particularly exciting in the midst of most days, and it asks more of me than I really have to give. As a mom (much like as a disciple), I am at my best when I can stop thinking about myself, when I can live my days with my heart fixated on others and my mind occupied on the eternal.
There are aspects of motherhood that I would change if I could. The endless tasks that seem to undo themselves instantly. The homeschool mornings that hint more of mutiny than learning. The laundry that multiplies. The goldfish crackers that are, somehow, reproducing under the backseat of my car. The fear that I might ruin my kids. The reality that these precious little people are growing up in chaos, not just the chaos of our living room but the chaos of a bleeding world.
In the midst of those thoughts, as I struggle to find my footing in a role that feels so heavy, I am drawn back to Christ and his grace for me and his love for my family. And in those moments, I think that maybe I didn’t need to go overseas to change the world, that I am part of a quiet revolution that is happening right here. But this revolution, this movement toward greater things and finding the kingdom and shepherding little ones who are fearfully and wonderfully made, this is the place where motherhood and discipleship meet. It’s a place of passionate restraint and ferocious gentleness and relentless pursuit of the hearts of four small, sweaty, mischievous kids. It’s a place of exhilarating weariness, a place of significant monotony, a place where character is forged despite us and in us and because of us.
I’m not sure if the teenage version of me would be disappointed with this turn of events, this surprise ending where I tie shoes and peel clementines for a living. But as I look around, past the dishes and through the cultural norms and beyond the internal doubt that I’m not getting it right, I look at my kids and think, “This. This matters. This is what I’m going to do with my life.”