Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Finding Joy When No One Wants Your Life

I wasn't even halfway done describing my day when I saw it, the exchange of glances between the two of them. I was trying to be honest but, to be honest? I didn't think what I was saying sounded all that bad. I was surprised when he blurted out -

"That sounds...awful."

My life sounds...awful? I turned it over and over in my mind that night, remembering a recent conversation with my husband. He had been frustrated at work when, after mentioning the number of children he had, the conversation of those around him moved toward preventing a large family at any cost. It kind of knocks the wind out of you, just a little, when people look at the life you've built and say "yikes. Anything but that."

Everyone's lives have components that people look at and find less than desirable. Working nights sounds awful to me. Having a spouse who travels a lot or is deployed for long periods of time sounds awful to me. Getting up at 6 am every morning to drag kids to the bus stop sounds anything but enjoyable.

The beautiful thing about life is that you can find joy anywhere. A doctor working exhausting long hours can find it when he can give a family good news after a surgery. A Mom like me, with days full to the breaking point of diapers and math assignments, dishes and laundry - finds it in the satisfaction of blessing the people she loves the very best.  God equips us all differently, calls us all differently, and even in lives that look to the outside like anything but fun, he showers grace and beauty, carefully seeds joy. He grows us into our vocations, and as we work, we grow attached, even fond of the rhythm of our lives.

Work isn't a curse. Industry and creativity bring us to a place of satisfaction that a life of leisure never could. Looking at the outside of any particular job or task never gives you the full picture of the joy that is possible when you're in it, giving it your all.

My life is kind of a mess. Crumbs and chaos mixed in with faith and learning, little people and bigs, pregnancy and diapers and pre algebra all at the same time. It's overwhelming, exhausting and loud. And from the outside, that just might be it. From the inside, that doesn't even scratch the surface.

Ten years ago, I wouldn't have wanted the life I have today if I had overheard a description of it. I may have even blurted out "that sounds awful!" and made a private note to not end up like this. After all, the thought of non stop childcare and housekeeping doesn't sound glamorous to anyone. But life is more than a list of duties. 7 kids is more than a number. Babies are more than diaper changes and teaching more than paperwork.

While there will always be components to my day that I do not enjoy, not one little bit - I have come to love it. Being with my people, keeping our home, watching them learn and grow and love on each other - it's a beautiful, amazing thing. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

You have to live it to see it clearly. I did.

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  1. Lydia,
    I can totally relate to this. The glances, the big eyes, the incredulous "how many kids do you want?" It can be tough. Thanks for this timely encouragement and reminder! Your life is beautiful!

  2. That is fabulous! I love it. Truth. Thank you :-)

  3. Love this. Have you seen this ad? I don't watch TV but I have seen it at the pump while filling up the car lately (side note: why on earth do we need TV at the gas pump? no wonder we have no attention spans!) We all say "never!" but then sometimes that's exactly what we get. And thank God for it. :)

  4. I needed these words today, after getting a somewhat similar response from someone today about my life at home as homemaker, homeschooling mother and keeper of our home. Thank you!

  5. I love this. Love your blog!!! So encouragin and a breath of fresh air! Thank you!

  6. 7 children = 7 people who will enter this world and carry on in our place. They will get jobs work and provide for their families and this country. You aren't just blessing your children, when you care for them. You are blessing the world.

  7. I love this post! Recently, I was at our church's youth group where I'm a sponsor. The theme of the night was to look forward and imagine our lives at 20, 30, 40, 50 and so on. Well, since I'm almost 40, I was quite a bit further down the road than most of them, obviously. And the surprising thing to me as I was reflecting and praying on my current life and the life I'd like to have in 5, 10, 15 years is how content I am where God has me right now. We serve as missionaries in a small town in central eastern Europe. I have 3 small kids. Our life is crazy and a bit chaotic at times. Much of my time is taken up with washing diapers, doing dishes, and spending time with my littles. And most of the time, I love it! Because this is where God has me right now. How true it is that joy can be found anywhere. And joy is found in obedience.

  8. Thank you Lydia, I think your life sounds wonderful, mess, math assignments and all! And - sorry if that sounds silly, but you all look so beautiful! Your blog certainly makes a difference in my life. :)

  9. Narrowing in on the unpleasant things that every life holds really does miss how much joy there is in living in the center of God's will for your day. I love this comment. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Thank you Maggie! I feel this way so it is sometimes surprising to me when others don't see it the same. Remembering that what God thinks is all that matters!

  11. Thank you Rebecca! Sometimes its just exhausting but then I look at what I'm doing with my life and really couldn't have written a better story for myself.

  12. Oh my yes. Those things that have no assigned dollar value in our culture! You are priceless, Kim!

  13. I am reminded of a Steven Curtis Chapman song:Your picking up toys on the living room floor for the fifteenth time today

    Matching up socks

    Sweeping up lost cheerios that got away

    You put a baby on your hip

    Color on your lips and head out the door

    While I may not know you,

    I bet I know you

    Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?

    Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long


    As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,

    Cause he made you,

    To do

    Every little thing that you do

    To bring a smile to His face

    Tell the story of grace

    With every move that you make

    And every little thing you do


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