But let me give you some back-story. I have always felt called to be a “missionary.” After our first year of marriage, my husband and I felt God leading us to London, England, to be a part of the Encompass church-planting team. It was a hard but good year of sharing Christ and our lives with a lot of people from all walks of life. After finishing our term, we returned to the States and shortly after John got a full-time job with the mission stateside.
Fast-forward almost two years. We had our first baby and bought our first house. Life just got wonderful and complicated in a way I had never experienced. I loved being a mom, but suddenly my “ministry life” did not have a place alongside my role as a mom. I had a couple of non-Christian friends but always felt guilty spending too much time away from my kids.
In 2011, Encompass announced they were planning to move their home office and asked John and I if we would be willing to relocate. I had never lived anywhere long-term except Ohio, so a move seemed overwhelming and scary. Strangely, my first reaction was that we have to do this. I felt like I was in a rut in my ministry life, and what better way to get out of a rut than to uproot all that you know and start over. (Now I am not saying that you have to move to readjust your mission, but sometimes change is necessary.)
So in 2012, our “Buckeye” born and bred clan moved to the Peach State. The mission chose Atlanta, specifically northeast Atlanta, because it is one of the most diverse sections of the US. What? Atlanta? I know, that was my first thought. But it is a massive new immigration city and has a high population of Hispanics and Asians. It is a “missionary” paradise.
So when we moved, I had the mindset to be intentional about “finding myself outside of my home.” I wanted to be obedient to being called as a “missionary” wherever I was, whatever life stage I was in. I wanted to try and love people and love my boys well at the same time. Also, I was teaching my boys who Christ was, and I wanted them to see me obeying the call that he has put on all of us to go and tell others about Him. But how could I juggle three young kids and the vast demands that ministry brings? Well, I learned some things, through trial and error, that have helped me to achieve balance, on most days, between these two worlds.
First, just be missional “while you go.” Ok, I know that is not grammatically correct, but when Jesus gave the disciples the great commission, he basically said “go tell people, while you go.” I think as Christians we complicate our “mission field.” If we are prayerfully asking God for his will in our lives, we need to be confident that we are where we need to be, with the people God has put in our paths. When we go to school, work, the grocery store, we need to have our eyes and hearts open to see the people around us with whom God has potentially called us to share our lives.
Second, when you are living out “God’s purpose” in life, you are a better mom. I always thought this was an oxymoron. How could I be a better mom if I am pouring into others and not my kids? Well, the easy answer is when you do what you were created to do you are filled up with God’s peace, forgiveness, and love. Being a mom is very important to me, but I am first a child of God. I found that I was only truly fulfilled by being obedient to God, whether that was through being a mom or ministering to others. I also realized that I could love others well and be a good mom because I was dependent on God’s strength and not my own.
Third, the best way to teach your kids about God is to show them how we are to be his “hands and feet” down here on Earth. I started getting very deliberate about vocalizing what I was doing and why I was doing it. I also brought my kids along to do “ministry” with me. Guess what? Not only did they learn to care about other people, they helped me be more effective. How relatable are you to other moms when your kids are with you? Suddenly bridges were built with women I was reaching out to that I could never have constructed on my own.
Lastly, just because we are women does not mean our “calling” is put on hold for this season of raising kids. I have found that my kids have made me more loving and compassionate to people. I have a responsibility to God to be a part of His plan in sharing His good news with others. As women, we need to share with our husbands what we are passionate about and what we feel called to do, and let them help us live out that calling.
So…find a mom at your kid’s soccer game who doesn’t go to church and invite her and her family. Join a club and care about the people in it, then be ready to tell them where your compassion comes from. Babysit or help tutor kids and pray for a chance to talk to them about their idea of God. “Adopt” an international family at school and help them navigate through life with you and your family. Invite your neighbors who don’t know Jesus over for dinner. Do foster care, and bring a child into your home to experience a family that strives to obey God. Or…the possibilities are endless. Just use your passion, your gifting, and God’s calling and jump in!
So four years ago, when I was consumed with being a mom, I don’t believe I was disobeying God. I believe possibly I was missing out on “his immeasurably more.” God always has grace on us and never makes us do his will but allows us to be a part of it. I can’t promise that it will always be fun, and you will probably be more exhausted at the end of a day, but I can promise that your family will be eternally changed by you opening your door to others. I want to be available for God to use me. I want my kids to see me loving people in Jesus’s name. And I want to find myself not only inside but also outside of my home.