When we stay behind

All week he’d been leading worship at our annual youth conference- a week teaming with youthful zeal and powerful worship and hearts set on fire for God. He came home each day exhilarated but exhausted. Tonight he pulled in the driveway 30 minutes before we needed to leave for the formal dinner. I was still in my jean skirt and comfy tee, sitting on the couch having an overdue chat with a dear friend.

I had kissed him each morning as he left and smiled. Inspiring young people to experience God more fully makes both of us come alive. Sometimes watching him go, plodding through another boring day and then hear all the stories in the evening (or not, when he was just too exhausted) the smile slipped and my heart sighed.

Ten years ago I couldn’t have imagined how hard this would be. To sit this one out again, to stay home and change diapers, wipe noses and settle squabbles while he would go minister. I envisioned doing ministry side by side, because we are best that way.

But sometimes the best means we become a sideline mom. A hidden piece of the fabric, the engine that invisibly keeps people fed, watered and clothed. It’s good and necessary, but honestly there are moments when it just stinks. We moms KNOW it’s all good, but give us just a moment to sit with this: the acknowledgment that the price we pay to be a mom pulls deep.

Most of the time we aren’t feeling sorry for ourselves. But even the bravest ones swallow hard occasionally. Sometimes we have to take a deep breath to do today well.

Last night the week pivoted from comfy clothes and notebooks for impeccable dresses and tables set with stunning centerpieces. The room glittered with sequins and satin and carefully arranged hair. Groups stood around and chattered about the week and gloried in the new found friends who just ten days ago were strangers.

I bounced and jostled my grumpy baby, who occasionally coughed so hard I’d scuttle off to a quiet corner to settle him. Only there were no quiet corners and no nursery where I could feed him. I resigned myself to the restroom, locked the stall door and awkwardly slipped my non-nursing dress off one shoulder so he could eat. This formal black dress wasn’t intended for nursing mamas, I knew, but it was worth it. My man’s eyes had sparkled the second he saw me in it, a drastic change from my relaxed mom clothes.

Back at the table, the baby squirmed and fussed on, and I bounced him and leaned in, trying to hear over the roar of 89 conversations how the week had gone. I caught the tail end of someone’s powerful story, and tapped my husband’s elbow. “Who?” I asked. All week long I was trailing the events, never quite keeping up.

The evening ended after a mass group photo and we walked out to the car under a perfect moon. In years gone by, we would have stopped to kiss under such a “kissing moon” but we had a baby with a cough who needed to be bundled into his car seat and kids at home who needed us.

Seasons, dear one, there are seasons. Sometimes we fight to press close, sometimes we fight to birth babies. Sometimes we fight to stay engaged when our calling is lost in the mundane. And sometimes, standing behind someone else and supporting THEIR dream is more valuable than demanding our own.

We will see other friends in a different season, thriving as they freely serve in the place we miss. And it’s ok to feel that loss.

But we must not forget the joy of today. Of the purpose of our calling here and now. Not only am I teaching my children how to fold laundry and build trust with each other, I’m training my heart to connect deep with God, in this unseen place. To be ok with a season that takes intentionality. To acknowledge the hard, to be ok with tears, but to look up and remember He is worthy.

He is worthy of even this.

The God of the universe looks down and sees. He is worthy of praise from our most unseen places.

I came home and slipped out of my sparkly black dress straight back into comfy sweat pants and headed to the kitchen where remnants of a freezer pizza littered the floor. “Mama!” My three year old’s eyes glittered as she ran and threw her arms around my neck. “I missed you!”

I kissed my child and pulled her hair out of her eyes, tucking it behind her ear.

“I missed you too!”

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Melissa,

    Thank you for this beautiful blog post! I have been struggling with this exact feeling lately. My husband has a new job teaching at UNC Charlotte, and while I am thrilled for him, it’s a constant reminder that I gave up my career for raising children. I know it’s what is best for our children, but that sting is there. Thank you for being vulnerable and following what God wants you to write. It is so encouraging to know I don’t struggle with this alone.

    I know you want to be able to minister with your man, but by following God in sharing this post, you ministered to me.

    God is using both of us in our roles as mommy to refine and shape us. I’m thankful for you and your encouragement!

    Blessings, Laura Nettles

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. “But we must not forget the joy of today. Of the purpose of our calling here and now.” Thank you for sharing. You’re making a bigger difference with your words than you even realize. I’m so grateful that you keep showing up.

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