"So, how are things going?"
I hate this question. I get asked this a lot in reference to our move. It's a good question, and I love that people are interested to hear how it has been for us since we moved. But I never know how to answer.
Things are good. Brad loves his job and is really flourishing in the hospital setting. We joined a wonderful church that is like a breath of fresh air to us at a time when we were feeling wounded and weary. We live in a wonderful community with lots of kids just down the street. I've been welcomed into a wonderful circle of friends and we are leading a great small group. Time and time again we have seen these people come through for each other and others in need. It is truly an example of what God wants the Church to be and we are so thankful to be part of it. Micah goes to a great preschool two mornings a week where he is flourishing. The boys are so happy to be living in an area with so much wonderful beauty and opportunities to get out in nature. They play outside daily and we go on family hikes whenever we can. The love getting dirty and exploring their new surroundings. Things have been going really well.
This is the answer everyone wants to hear. All of these things are true and we are so grateful for that. But it's not the whole truth.
The truth is I'm floundering. When this opportunity was first presented to us, Brad and I were so excited at all of the possibilities. We knew we would love the area and the people we would meet. We were excited about the opportunity to serve in the community. We were confident that God was going to use us and work in us in big ways. We just weren't sure what those ways were. But we also knew the reality of the situation, and we talked about it a great deal.
While this move could mean one step closer to financial freedom for us, it would come at a cost. Brad would be gone 11 hours every day. I know to many people that is nothing. But to me that is huge. I have always known that I couldn't marry a firefighter who might be away from his home for days at a time. I couldn't marry a man who had to travel a lot for his job. I wanted my husband home with his family as much as possible. One of the reasons we disliked Brad's old job so much was because of how inflexible they were with his time. He missed so much because he had to work weekends or couldn't easily take time off for family events. While Brad is now home every weekend, he misses most of the week. He often leaves right after breakfast and comes home as I am putting the boys to bed. I'm not used to this. I don't like this. Raising three young boys and being pregnant is exhausting. I'm weary. By time I'm putting the boys to bed, I'm at the end of my rope. And I often go to bed myself thinking I have to do it all over again tomorrow. My partner is missing. And it's hard.
I've also discovered I am a suburban girl through and through. I've always dreamed of being a country girl, but I think this is too country for me. I'm used to endless playdates, Bible study, mom's group, Target trips, Chick-fil-A, countless parks, small group, committees, family parties, mom's nights out, and the list goes on. I always had something to fill my time. But here I don't have that. Don't get me wrong, I have a mom's group, we're part of a small group, I attend a Bible study, but it's not the same. I am home with the boys way more than I ever was before. And it's been a hard adjustment. When I am tired of looking at the four walls of my own house, I have no where to go. There are no breaks.
But the hardest part is that I thought we were going to be used by God in a big way. I thought we were going to find a hole in ministry that we filled perfectly. That has not been the case. I'm sure there are opportunities that I am unaware of, but the reality of my situation has made it difficult to be used in the ways in which we thought we would be.
And I found myself being angry at God. Why? Why did he bring us here? I sacrificed so much, and for what? I thought we were doing what he wanted us to do. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I thought he was going to bless us. I thought he was going to see us through. I thought he would be faithful. And I just haven't been feeling any of that. For about a month, my poor husband never knew who he was coming home to. Was I going to spend all night crying about how I wanted to go home? Was I going to be mad because he made us come here? I did everything God wanted me to do, so why wasn't he keeping his end of the deal?
But then I started to think about it. There is one thing in this life I am certain of. I know who God wants me to be. I know God wants me to be a mom. I have been uniquely gifted to be the mom that my little boys need. I have always known this. I've never wanted anything more. I want so much for my children. I want them to grow up to love the Lord with all their hearts. I want them to love his people and to see them with his eyes. I want them to find their home to be a safe haven. A place where they feel safe and comfortable. A place where it's okay to mess up because they know they are loved unconditionally by their Heavenly Father and by their parents. I want them to learn how God has uniquely gifted them to be used by him. And all of this takes time and a lot of energy. It takes a lot of focused time, time spent pouring into them even when I feel like I have nothing left to give. And in Chicago, I was distracted. Distracted by good things, but distracted nonetheless. Every time I brought them to a playdate or we attended another Bible study. These are all good things, things I want my children to be part of and to see me be part of, but I was doing it in excess and that made them bad things. And you might think I just need to say no more often, but I didn't know how. I didn't want to. I was afraid of being stuck home all day alone with my children with nothing to do. I was afraid of boredom. And of failure. Being home means it's all up to me and what if I fail?
So, I firmly believe, God had to take me out of that place, away from those distractions in order to force me to stay home and truly focus on my family. Something my heart has desired all along but I have been afraid of. When I feel like I am losing my patience and I can't take one more minute, I can't run to Target. I have to deal with it. When my kids are going crazy because it snowed AGAIN and they haven't seen anyone who doesn't share their DNA in days I can't run to the park or the nearest Chick-fil-A. I have to deal with it. I have to take time to teach them how to resolve their conflict. To come up with fun new things to play. If I'm feeling worn out and I want time by myself, I don't have MOPS to look forward to or a coffee date with my best friend. I have to force myself to keep on keeping on. And it is hard. So, so hard. But I am already seeing the benefits of it. I am seeing God's blessings. When I sit down and truly evaluate where we are now versus where we were six months ago, I can see God's faithfulness. I see how well my boys get along. I see how much they look forward to our time spent together. I see how Judah goes to his big brother for comfort or help. I see how Micah cuddles up in my lap and tells me how much he loves me and then wants to talk about Heaven or the Bible or Jesus. I see how God has put in my heart Scripture that I can use when disciplining or instructing the boys. I see how my marriage has grown and strengthened because we have to lean on each other more now than ever before. And I see the possibilities. I see how my homeschooling can flourish because I am away from all those distractions. I see how my relationship with God can strengthen because I don't have those things stealing my time (don't get me wrong..there are always things stealing my time, but not being home enough is no longer one of them). And I see how I am surrounded by like minded people and I am encouraged. I see that God truly did have a plan through all of this, it's just a little different than what we were expecting.
And it's still hard. And I still get angry and frustrated and upset. It's hard when you're being molded. But pottery has to go through the fire to come out the beautiful end product. And I still will jump at any chance I have to go back home, but I'm recognizing this place for what it is. And I'm finding the beauty in it. And I see God's faithfulness and I have the promise that he will continue to be faithful, and each day it makes it a little bit easier. I don't know if this place will every completely feel like home, but I know without a doubt someday I will look back on this time and I will sing of God's faithfulness and how he brought me through the fire so that I could be the woman he wanted me to be, and I will be forever grateful.