Purpose and calling may not always have a measurable reward. Stay at home parents know exactly what I’m talking about. The day-to-day humdrum of life keeps beating and they keep-on keepin’-on without financial reward or recognition for their often extraordinary efforts to fend off tantrums, sickness and boredom. Some of the most important jobs are not paid.
Over a year ago I desired to spend time on a curriculum on friendship that I’ve been developing for forever. Aaron and I looked at our schedule and decided that I would spend time working on it while our youngest was in preschool. Expending time and energy on it felt self-indulgent until I started thinking of writing as a part-time “job.” We decided to devote job-like time to it because it was that important to us. I wasn’t getting paid to do it, but thinking of it as my job to read, think, write and teach was freeing! It was like stretching out in a big soft bed after having been cooped up in a box – a little bit of pain, a lot of relief.
I don’t know if we really had a choice about how much time I could spend on this sort of thing while the kids were tiny. Though I’m sure I could have, I’m not going to say I should have done it a different way or that anyone who feels boxed up doesn’t have to maintain their responsibilities. I don’t want to turn stretching into running away from responsibilities for me or you. I don’t want to neglect my kids when I’m with them or prioritize writing over my family.
But I do want to prioritize it. I do want to take a hard look at the week and our commitments with my husband and come up with ways that we can each find time to stretch into who we are. The fact is that I am a better mom, wife and friend when I stretch out into these other parts of me. Most of the time I have more energy, focus and momentum to carry out my responsibilities. And when that happens, my perspective sees beyond the tantrum or barking dogs and I interact knowing that hard moment will pass.
Things that feel self-indulgent might actually help me fulfill my calling as a family girl and a writer.
When my husband and I work together to consider how we want to spend our time, we become mutually invested in each other’s growth and purpose in life.
Sometimes that means we don’t get what we think we want coming into the conversation because through open discussion we realize we want something else even more – time together, sanity for our partner or maybe just rest. Great team-building conversations are open like that. They aren’t demanding, they seek the best for everyone. Of course, not all of our conversations are like that! But when they are, great things happen for both of us and we strengthen our team.
Tackle It Together: Discussion ideas to explore with someone you love.
1 – What “you” sort of thing would you do if you had more time or energy? How would it help you stretch into who you are so you can offer more of YOU to the world?
2 – What box are you cooped up in? Where is there room to stretch while still maintaining your responsibilities/prioritites? What could you cut so you can add something more important to you? (Sometimes saying “yes” means saying “no” to something wonderful!) What things could you set aside for now or for the evening or for the week?
3 – If you live or work with your loved-one, how can you work together to accomplish other tasks or provide specialized time or encouragement for you to each stretch into who you are? (Maybe it’s 30 minutes, maybe it’s a whole weekend! What works this week, in this stage of life?)
I hope we can look at those we love and with all our hearts be able to say: Stretch into you like it’s your job (even if it’s a very-part-time job).
What would you do more of if you could call it your job? Let me know in the comments here or on Facebook.