This was originally published in 2009. Our youngest was still an infant at the time. It has not been edited to account for life changes or time lapsed.
This morning, as I was on the elliptical machine for the first time in over two months, praying that I could get through the intense workout without experiencing cardiac arrest, I was thinking about a conversation I recently shared with a friend. We talked about how hard our husbands work to take of our families, sometimes doing work that they wouldn’t choose if making enough money to provide for growing families wasn’t their primary consideration. I started to contemplate this rather modern way of thinking: that one has to love his or her job in order to be happy doing it.
In times past, when life wasn’t as convenient, and working the land was an integral part of survival, I wondered how often anyone stopped to consider whether or not they enjoyed their work. If they spent long hours agonizing over their wasted talents or if they were simply thankful for the health and strength to do what needed to be done. We live in a media savvy, technologically advanced society, constantly bombarded with images of everything we don’t have, haven’t done, or might accomplish. A world where the idea of NOT doing something that we love is almost tantamount to being oppressed. I should rephrase that. I should have said we live in a world where not getting PAID for doing what we love is tantamount to being oppressed.
But what if life really is all about doing what we need to, even if it isn’t glamorous? Can we experience joy in the common, daily doings of our lives? Much of my life is characterized by doing the same thing day after day, several days a week. I woke up this morning, read my Bible, prayed, started the coffee maker, exercised, showered, dropped off the big kids, greeted the husband, made and served breakfast, dressed the kids, kissed the husband goodbye, cleaned the kitchen, made the bed (which the littles promptly jumped up and down on), read to the kids, looked at elephant photos and colored elephant pictures (E is the letter of the week), went outside to play, came back in, cleaned up toys, prepared and served lunch, cleaned up the mess, put the littles down for nap, etc. You get the picture. Barring some unforeseen event, the first half of my day will be exactly the same tomorrow, with a few slight variations. To feel the joy in the dailyness of life is a necessity for me, wouldn’t you agree?
I am grateful to be at home serving my family and raising my children. I believe it’s what I’ve been called to. I love it- most of the time. But some days, it’s hard. An introverted book lover with a houseful of kids can feel overwhelmed from time to time. Many of the things that interested me when I was younger have been pushed aside as I am in the trenches of wife and motherhood, where most of my time and attention are directed, and rightly so. Should I feel like life is passing me by?
I wonder how many of us have embraced dreams, desires, and aspirations, telling ourselves that they are no less than the will of God for our life. God wants us to be happy. He wouldn’t want us to neglect our talents and sacrifice our dreams on something as common as duty. We are supposed to be living our best, purpose driven lives now. In my case, and this is probably the case with most believers today, we have clung to our personal dreams, desires and aspirations for so long that we aren’t open to the possibility that they may not be what God destined for us at all. We have taken our demands to God in prayer and said, “This is what I want to do God, work with it, please.” The clay is telling the Potter what it is and is not willing to become.
I am a dreamer. I still dream of writing a book someday. I have dreams for my children, my family, and my future. I am not discounting the power of having a passionate vision. If it seems that I am saying we should kill our dreams, I’m not. That isn’t my intent. Dreams are wonderful, when they spring from the right heart.
Psalm 37 is a fascinating passage of Scripture. In a world where everyone is trying to sell us something to make our lives better, where the mantra of dissatisfaction screams at us from every billboard, magazine cover, and TV and radio advertisement, this passage offers the antidote to the problem of chronic discontentment. The morale of the passage is not to be fooled by the prosperity of those who rail against the truth. The key to finding peace of mind is to corral our thoughts. In the midst of all the admonishments is encouragement concerning the desires of our hearts, and how to receive them:
Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
In recent years I have come to view this Scripture very differently from the way it has been traditionally been recited and preached. Most times the verse is ripped out of context and applied to any and every earthly, material vision we have for our lives: When we delight ourselves in Him, God will give us the desires of our hearts. I think it might just as easily or more accurately mean that God will literally give our hearts the desires they should have. He will give us the desires of our hearts. When our desires are given to us by God, and we delight ourselves in Him, we can be happy doing anything.
I believe that God is glorified when we do even the mundane things as unto Him. And certainly He is glorified when we use our gifts and talents in service to Him, whether we get paid for them or not. If we can get paid for them, so much the better. The most important thing is the motivation of our hearts.