It occurred to me recently that if I have three children, though I am not making any announcements or commitments here, I will spend a minimum of 10 years at home with small children. That is an entire decade. It just sounds like a really long time to me, considering that it is currently 1/3 of my life.
Another thing that struck me is that this decade will be spent almost entirely with children who are too young to have any memories of the time together. Ten years of my life spent pouring into children who wont remember any of it.
I have to be careful how I say this, because I truly believe that these young years are crucial to a child's development, and I wholeheartedly recognize the great gift it is to be with my own children during these years. I would not trade in this time with them for anything. However, doesn't it seem like a strange way to spend valuable adult years? This is an entire decade given over to day-in, day-out routines. These are years when adult conversations are few and conversations at home consist primarily of one-syllable words. And from a Spiritual point of view, these are years when it is difficult to be involved in any type of ministry (outside of my house, that is.) Doesn't that seem like a colossal waste of an adult who could be doing so many other things to better the world?
But, No. To Him it doesn't.
Once again, His designs are much better than mine would ever be. The most crucial part of Jesus' own ministry was a mere 3 years of His life. What was He doing for the other three unrecorded decades between the manger and His first miracle? ...Just because it isn't recorded, doesn't mean it wasn't important. If even Jesus needed 30 years of preparation to do God's will, then perhaps this decade in my life is part of the larger plan too.
I tend to view this whole mom-at-home thing as something I am doing for my children, and sometimes I feel a little left out of the picture. But God is showing me that being at home is a big part of His plan for me too. The kids, and me.
Something about being home with these kids, amidst the monotony of laundry and dishes and runny noses and more laundry, having zero time for myself, is... character-building. It is a big part of how God wants to prepare me to follow Him anywhere. About what it means to be stripped of all titles and see myself without any of them, the way that God sees me. About how to die to self day after day after day, and in the end be more myself than ever. And ultimately, being home with these children teaches me how to love people the way that He loves people.
Isn't that what it's all about? Loving people the way that God loves people.
I am always chasing after my final product. But there is no final product, not on earth, anyway. This decade spent in raising young children is not some stray deviation from the plan... or hiatus from the plan... it is the plan. It is the plan to refine me piece by piece, however long it takes.