If I could have a superpower, I’d want to be Clone Girl. To have the ability to split into several versions of myself would give me a chance to not only max out my effectiveness as a mother, singer/songwriter and a chaplain, but also to pursue careers as a graphic designer, emporium entrepreneuse, fashion designer and novelist. I could pursue ALL of my dreams while NOTHING suffered from neglect. (I could wear several styles of clothing, too 🙂
I really struggle with how to manage the call of God on my life. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what I’m called to do. Life, however, isn’t static, isn’t predictable. A quick look through the Bible shows us that heroes had to make sacrifices. Even more alarmingly, their families had to make sacrifices. I asked God for a family. How can I drop that ball, of all balls? And yet … it makes no sense at all to keep shoving the dream of changing the world onto each subsequent generation, without participating in it yourself.
King David in the Bible is one of my heroes. Imperfect, passionate, creative, conflicted – I relate strongly to all of that. He is one of the largest characters in the Bible, and wrote a sizable chunk of it. But what sort of parent was he? His role models were Jesse (who had several “better” sons, and could hardly be bothered with the youngest – some believe because David was the result of an affair) and Samuel, whose sons did not walk in his ways (how could he have taught them to, given by his parents to the temple and left with Eli’s shoddy parenting as a guide?). So David begins life as a shepherd. Against all odds, he receives the kingship anointing during the lifetime of the reigning king. He becomes part-time aide-de-camp and court bard; then warrior, royalty, outlaw and mercenary in short order. Finally he becomes partial king, then full king. He won battles, led Israel in their golden age, and wrote Psalms.
But for all of that … a price was paid. Of David’s children, the eldest was a rebel. The best-looking was a subversive usurper. The heir asked God for wisdom and then went on to use his own judgment when it came to marriage. When a son raped a daughter, the daughter urged her brother to ask David to marry them. She can’t have known her father very well; would the man who wrote “How I love Your law!” really consent to break the Scripture “Do not have sexual relations with your sister”? Said rapist was subsequently murdered by said usurper, who then bonked David’s entire harem.
So my question is this: is it possible to be a world-changer and not lose your family? To gain the world without losing your soul? How does God weigh “many souls saved through your ministry” against “you lost the souls of those few you loved best”?
A lot of people have said that motherhood is a ministry. Yes, I agree. However, there are still other ministries I’m called to do, and I dare not neglect them, either. There is much more pressure, I feel, on women to dump their ministries upon giving birth, than there is on men who are newly-minted fathers. I want to be both a responsible parent and a responsible minister. I understand now why Paul, in 1 Corinthians, says “those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this … An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.”
So we arrive at this idea that, once you become a parent, your life is over and you should focus only on the next generation, developing their ministries. But I just can’t do that. One, I absolutely resist the idea that my time is over and I should just go slit my wrists. I still have big dreams, however improbable. At the end of Paul’s life, he is still asking for parchments from his library because he isn’t done learning! And two, as I said, it’s irresponsible to abdicate only to model a constant cycle of abdication, generation after generation. If every generation considers its opportunites spent at 20-something, who does that leave to get things accomplished? The never-never? And the modeling is definitely part of it. For good or bad, I’ve modeled to my kids that serving God is a lifelong passion, through stupefyingly thick and bewilderingly thin. I’ve modeled commitment, faithfulness and perseverance. I’m in this for the long haul. When God called me at the age of 15, He knew I would marry and have kids. Therefore, He must know of some happy medium that’s going to work for all of us. Because I don’t want my kids to be casualties. I don’t want my marriage to that fantastic man to become a statistic. I am daring to dream that we can have it all. Naïve? Probably. Faith-driven? Absolutely.
Dream with me. Some of the most significant advances in ministry have begun as dreams. Larry Norman dreamed of Christian music that didn’t sound buried-in-last-century. He spawned an entire genre. Phil Pringle dreamed of church songs that consisted of something more than six lines, lather, rinse, repeat. He transformed the modern church service. Amy Grant dreamed of Christian artists who became successful in the Top 40. People like Brooke Fraser are living her legacy. U2, well, they’re U2 and they are literally world-changers.
I dream of being able to make incredible music successfully without moving to the USA, without appearing in video clips wearing two handkerchiefs, without plunging my family into ruin or abandonment, without being under 25, without even being the best vocalist on my block. Dream with me.