Recently, I was filling out forms required before a medical appointment. When I came to the “Occupation” blank, I hesitated before writing “homemaker.” I used to write freelance writer, then magazine publisher, then print shop owner, then publisher and bookkeeper, then publisher and fitness instructor. I guess I should have written stay-at-home-mom. I have two grown children, a teenager, and two dogs. I am a wife and a Noni. My husband and I are the tag team childcare providers for our three young grandsons (number four is due this month). My husband works from home so sometimes I’m his office assistant/tech person. I squeeze in a small editing gig every other month.
Neither word seemed big enough to encompass all the different activities that occupy my time these days. I realized I missed the feelings of accomplishment that went along with many of the endeavors I used to do.
I know “label” is the current ugly word in the ongoing social movement toward unity. But at that moment in that doctor’s waiting room, I felt naked and paradoxically invisible without a specific what-I-do label. Who am I when what I do – jobs, positions, and titles – gives way to a new season? I used to facilitate Bible classes and host a house church. I used to be a prayer warrior. Now, just a smidge over the half-century mark in age, I’m having an identity crisis!
Should I take off on an “Eat Pray Love” style journey to find myself? Of course not. I don’t have time to pack for a trip like that! The Holy Spirit reminded me of a phrase I’ve used to encourage others: God packed your suitcase so you have everything you need to live out your God-destiny. The skills I have used in previous occupations include creating, motivating, teaching, encouraging, coaching, and paying attention to detail. God hard-wired these in me before I was born. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made …” (Psalms 139:13-14).
Max Lucado discusses the topic of natural aptitudes and strengths in his book, “Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot.” This is his description of one’s Sweet Spot: “Use your uniqueness (what you do) to make a big deal out of God (why you do it) every day of your life (where you do it).”
My level of frustration and discontent has been at an all-time high. I’ve had the attitude of a main team player who has been permanently benched. I had packed my uniqueness (what I do) back into the suitcase and threw it into the back of the closet. I have been blind to the importance of the tasks at hand, the holy assignments God has called me to now that will have eternal effects.
Slowly, (because I’ve been enjoying the pity party I’ve thrown for myself) I am allowing God to change my perspective. Maybe my past jobs and activities were just training and prep for my now. I am a creator of home and stability; a teacher of God’s Word to my grandsons; an encourager to my husband; a coach and motivator to my children as they find their own sweet spots; a writer with a still pen, collecting the details of new experiences in my heart; and a willful soul, grudgingly allowing Him to revamp my dreams.
The process of becoming who God has called me to be requires that I let go of the past and use the strengths and skills He gave me in the present. “ For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10). I can trust His plan. My God is not just flying by the seat of his pants. He planned good works for me and for you in advance! He knows what He’s doing.
I haven’t been benched. It’s just a new game.
Melissa France is an editor and staff writer for the bimonthly Hometown magazine of the KenTenn Area, which is based in northwest Tennessee. She’s a full-time wife, mother, and Noni, who loves to run. The coffee bean is her birthstone and dark chocolate is her daily vitamin. She’s decided every day is game day. You can connect with Melissa via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook/IG: Melissa Moore France.
*Photo by Rachel Deeb