Jonah and motherhood
I turned my nose up a little when the Bible study group chose the Jonah study. In my mind it was a children’s story that I’d heard too many times. One I certainly believed to be true but just not one that had much to offer me.
First wrong thinking: that I was too good for Jonah.
Second wrong thinking: that I was allowed to feel too good for Jonah, simply because I couldn’t identify with Jonah.
Third (and most inherently flawed) thinking: that “what the story had to offer” was what it was all about.
Just because I wasn’t feeling particularly led to depart from my life (that I love) as it is and head in the direction of enemies whom I hate to bring them a chance at redemption, doesn’t mean at ALL that I can’t identify or learn from one of the most famous and heard stories of the Bible.
Likewise, just because I don’t always run full speed the absolute most opposite way of what is being asked of me, sure doesn’t mean I don’t want to/intend to/hope to/try to.
The story of Jonah is a much broader one than my initial (prideful) reaction allowed for. It’s about life being interrupted. And when, not if, it does – what will I choose to do about it?
In high school my parents were considering an overseas missions opportunity – them even thinking about it felt like the end of the world. I schemed at night in bed how I could work it out to stay home if they went.
In college I worked a job making coffee with some colorful characters who deemed me a goody-goody as soon as I walked in the door. I knew I was there to be a light but I was too scared to ever utter a word about my faith.
In our years of youth ministry, despite being married to the youth pastor, I would often sit in the back and hang out with my insecurity instead of being brave enough to enter in to the world of junior high. Years later I would realize, they didn’t need perfect, I would have sufficed just fine.
Then, after having three children and deeming our family “normal” and “just right”, when it was tempting to do what most other people we knew did (it did seem reasonable), God began to whisper. His interruption was a quiet one. But I’d had enough experience choosing not to listen that I knew I’d be the one missing out if I closed my heart. It was unmistakable.
Children are a blessing. They weren’t meant to inconvenience you, to limit your life or your ability to have the car you want or a trip to Disney or any other creature comforts. They were meant to GIVE you life, to grow your heart, to challenge and change you. They are a gift. An inheritance that I give that can extend into eternity.
It took time. But we both heard the same thing. And we chose to listen.
If we’d run, decided to take off in the opposite direction and hope for the best, God would have extended grace and used something else to shape and refine us. Sometimes I wanted to run. I wanted to live out something that felt doable and “doable” often didn’t/doesn’t describe my life. In my most desperate moments, I wanted to hop on a ship out of all that motherhood required and sail off into freedom.
Only the allure of freedom was never strong enough. The things God did in the process of me becoming a mother of one, then two, then five and soon six, I would not trade them for anything in all the world. And eventually, beautifully, freedom has come to define my life even with all its great responsibility and need.
We may likely never get to Disneyland. We do not drive a cool car. There are often things we simply can’t do because they don’t work with the size of our family. It is not often quiet here. Laundry is an enormous challenge (my boys both burned through 3 outfits just today!). We don’t just “hop in the car” and go somewhere, it’s always a little more involved than that. Bedtime takes a while. We do go through a lot of food.
The trade off weighs so heavy in the other direction however, that I can’t begin to put words to it….there is always someone to read with, talk with, play with (and fight with, sometimes, yes), there is a great variety of gifts and talents and strengths and weaknesses, there is ample opportunity to learn patience and sharing and service to others, there is friendship across many ages. There is laughter that fills a room and all sorts of shows that entertain. There is learning and creating and listening and solving problems.
Celebrating the gifts around our table today, thankful for this journey and
all that it entails!