It seems as if every stage in life has a question that is a tender spot. An innocent question, polite chit chat if you will, but can also sting when asked, if you don’t have a nice, neat put together answer.
As a teen, the question was “what are you going to do after high school?” Simple enough for me to answer- college.
Once the college years started coming to an end, the next question was “what are you going to do after college?” This wasn’t as easy to answer because post collegiate life was complicated — the path less direct. As things do, this answer worked itself out eventually with several years in the corporate world.
The question that sends me looking at my feet now is “what do you do for work?” The answer is simple — “I am a stay at home Mom” — and yet feels so complicated. I wear so many hats- chef, chauffeur, laundry maven, boo boo kisser, the only one that can find the chicken broth in the pantry. I am a domestic engineer, a term I stole from another stay at home Mom which feels like a fitting title when living in the Silicon Valley, the Momma of technology.
Deep down, I know the value of my work. To raise my children to know and love the Lord, support my husband as he financially provides for and leads our family, and attempt to keep our household functioning. This is incredibly important, life giving work! I know I am blessed beyond measure to live this life.
Yet when I am asked what I “do” a moment of uncertainty passes over me. Will this person see the value of my work? Will they see that I bring something to the table even though I can’t give a list of accomplishments?
I “do” so many things (see find chicken broth above) and yet my work does not fit into a neat little box. It is difficult to quantify and I rarely have projects that “end” and instead do the same things over and over again that are never really “done” (see laundry).
Society loves to remind me of their definition of “success”. I have to admit I get caught up chasing it often. Going on Linkedin can send me into a mental spiral when I see people who used to report to me and are now Directors or VPs of big, successful companies.
I’m not an “influencer” with a side hustle or a social (media) butterfly broadcasting pictures of my kids in their holiday outfits for all to see how important, busy, and FUN our lives are. Raising kids, deepening my marriage, and building my faith is lifelong work.
I am in the long game here and in the eyes of many, I often don’t have a lot to show for my efforts.
Achieving worldly success is not wrong as long as we know our worth is not defined by our resume. God loves us and he shows us our worth through Jesus’ sacrifice, which has been freely given to all (Rom 5: 6-9).
We can not “up”our worthiness by increasing our accomplishments and we can’t tank our worth when we sin, although sin will separate us from God (Romans 6:3).
We also can’t take our accomplishments with us when we die. As Christians, our most important work is living a life worthy of getting into heaven. And bringing as many other people we can along with us (Matt 28:19-20).
The lives of Christians aren’t supposed to look like the lives of unbelievers. We have been called to be, to live, differently.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”Matthew 5:14-16
Why is Success Defined By Comparison to Others?
My life will not look the same as the rest of society because my priorities are different. This is challenging, it often feels like swimming upstream. It takes checking in to see if the choices I am making reflect the priorities I speak of. I have to be ready and willing to adjust often, having honest talks with myself. Is the life I am living pointing back to Jesus?
The next tender question coming my way is “what are you going to do now that both your kids are in school?” Surprise, surprise I don’t have an easy, comfortable answer. On the horizon is a new time of figuring out what I am going to “do” as life marches on and our family enters this new stage. What I do know, while I work my way into the answer to this question, is that success for me, a Christian, is living a life that glorifies God.