Mar 24, 2015

Finding Joy When No One Wants Your Life

By Lydia J. Will

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.


***

Lydia is a second generation homeschooling mom to 6 who, together with her family, attends the same LCMS church that she grew up in. She writes to keep herself centered and can be found blogging regularly at www.smalltownsimplicity.blogspot.com

Image: Street Scene by Antal Berkes

4 comments:

  1. When I told my sister once that we were expecting (our 5th maybe?), she replied, "Oh, no!"

    Not exactly the congratulations I was expecting.

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  2. I especially appreciate this article because I myself sometimes look at aspects of other people's lives and hope that mine won't look like theirs (I'm not talking about the tragedies and misfortunes that none of us would choose, but about perfectly acceptable lifestyles shaped by choices). It's actually comforting to me to remember that, when we're talking about our preferences, tolerance levels, and priorities, we will all act in different ways and get somewhat different results. Life can be hard, but at the same time, there is a degree to which we can embrace our own particular type of "hardness" and find that it's not so bad from the inside.

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  3. Thank you! That was what I needed to hear. God grows us into our vocations. True that! :)

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  4. So true! While I did want to be a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom, my life has taken several turns I didn't expect or want. Working 3rd shift does sound terrible, and I thought I would never do that... until my husband and I both worked 3rd shift for 4 years. For introverts like us, it was relaxing and awesome. So few people around at night!

    I also thought I could never handle having two children less than two years apart... until I got pregnant with our 3rd child when our 2nd was only 13 months old.

    Tolkien said that courage can be found in the most unlikely places. I think joy can be too.

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