Purpose, Priorities, and the Fine Line Between Them
Ok, guys, before we jump into it, I am so excited about today’s (or, tonight’s, rather) post. I’m starting a monthly guest spot that I’m calling: Spotlight Sunday. Tonight’s first ever Spotlight Sunday is written by one of my very best friends Laura Noelle. Laura is an oily mom, who writes at lauranoelle.com & shares videos on her youtube channel. She is sharing her heart on how Motherhood & Marriage have shaped and changed her ideas of ministry. I am so excited to share her work with you!
Motherhood changed my DNA. You might call it hormones or isolation or just extreme lack of sleep, but the tangible shift in a mother’s brain is undeniable. It’s been almost three years since my daughter was born and I’ve watched the subtle and monumental shifts in focus and perspective—the sacrifice, the tears and the love.
My capacity for life has been challenged, and many times I felt like I simply might just not be enough. But in hindsight, I wonder if that’s how God designed motherhood to be… An intense season where we come face to face with our limitations, boundaries, true capacity and potential. You might find yourself in a puddle of tears more times than you can count, but on the other side of that is the amazingly incredible expansion of ministry and a unique way to make a lasting impact on this world.
Raising little people will most likely land you in survival mode for weeks, months, and sometimes years. That was me. I’m just starting to peek my head over the waters and I promise you the world looks so much more beautiful now than it ever did before. This is the change that happens when you embrace your potential and own your life.
First Things First
For two, seemingly very long, years, my ministry was focused on my family. My baby and husband were all I had the capacity to serve and care for. Though I may be the exception to the rule, I found it very difficult to truly dream and pursue my passions during this time of intense mothering. My daughter is very active and I’m sure that plays into my exhaustion, but I had almost nothing left to give after the ins and outs of 24/7 care taking. If you find yourself in a similar place, take heart—this is a season, it will not last forever!
As my daughter began to sleep better at night, so did I, and the fog of babyhood started to clear. That’s when I realized I could start dreaming again. I had lost my dreams along the way, and it took some time to re-find myself.
Reconnect to Your Dreams
At the end of 2017 I found an incredible tool called the Living Well Planner, designed by mom and entrepreneur Ruth Soukup [http://livingwellplanner.com/]. Unlike all the other planners I have tried over the years (there have been many), the Living Well Planner has unique pages for yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly goals, allowing you to break down your life goals into manageable chunks.
I spent two weeks staring at those sheets and slowly filling in the lines. Aside from being a mom…what were my big dreams for life in the areas of work, personal development, fitness/health, finance and relationships? My vision was lacking, but I quickly realized there were things I had always wanted to do that I’d been putting off. I had certification courses stacked up, piles of books collecting dust and files of ideas that were long forgotten.
I may have forgotten my potential, but God hasn’t.
And HE knew what I could handle when, even if I didn’t.
Find Your Time
Most moms will find their most productive time to be before the kids wake up or after they go to bed. If you have great nappers or have help with care, you might find those to be good times as well. For me, it’s 4:30am. My alarms starts to sing and I quickly roll over to turn it off before it wakes the snoozing creature (aka toddler) beside me.
I love the early morning hours. My loft office has a skylight right over my desk so I get to watch the sun rising through the trees while I work. It’s the highlight of my day. Spending time with my Creator, breathing in the silence, and exhaling encouragement to other moms.
Finding that time alone will absolutely revolutionize your ability to think clearly, dream and connect with your dreams.
Purpose & Priority
The downfall of dreaming is the monumental to-do list that comes along with it. There have been days I wished I could work 8 hours in my office, but that’s not possible because I’m still a mom. My toddler needs me. She will always need me, just in varying ways. If I put my work and ministry before her, my priorities will be misaligned. If I put my work before my husband, same thing… Something has to give.
I found it incredibly helpful to open up a Google Spreadsheet and time block my week. I highlighted the portions of my day (early morning) that are given priority for my self-care, ministry and work. Those chunks of time are while my toddler sleeps and when my husband can care for her. However, it goes without saying that on days when someone is sick or if she wakes early, my time has to be sacrificed for the sake of the family.
After I put “my time” down, I also highlighted out mealtimes, housework, preschool learning time, park playdates and other family time. This gives me a clear (and colorful) picture of my how my days are split up between my family, responsibilities and work. Certainly my priorities aren’t always in line, but if the overall structure is there and you’re always evaluating what’s the most important, things tend to balance out.
Motherhood & Marriage
My husband and I recently celebrated our fifth anniversary. A lot has happened in those years, and I don’t claim to have all the secrets to a healthy marriage, but I do know that parenting will change how you view and relate to your spouse. Finding time for each other is already difficult, but add in a screaming toddler who likes to get between you and push you apart every time you try to hug (not an exaggeration!), and you may find feelings of frustration and exhaustion entering the relationship. I haven’t found the solution to this yet, but I know when I make an extra effort to have deep and personal conversations with my husband, we start to remember why we are partners in this thing called life.
In my pre-kid days, I just knew I was going to change the world. I had an education plan, a business plan, a book, workshops and the experience running the ministries. Marriage shifted a few of those dreams, and motherhood squashed most of what was left. At first, I felt devastated. I wasn’t going to be able to do all the things and help all the people.
In hindsight, however, I have come to realize that while those dreams of young adulthood may not be alive anymore, they didn’t truly die—instead, they evolved. They matured. They changed.
I may not change the entire world, but I absolutely can make a difference. I can raise a healthy, confident daughter. I can foster a meaningful marriage with my husband. I can mentor young moms struggling in survival mode. I can write, speak and share my story with women all over the world.
My ministry isn’t limited to one place right now, it is essentially limitless.
The value of finding your purpose and recognizing that it may change throughout life’s seasons is a comforting grace. I used to think that I needed to pick one thing and stick with it forever, but my personality is more fluid than that. God knew that.
He designed me that way!
As my life ebbs and flows, so does my passion and my ministry. I am a wife and a mother, but that is not ALL I am. As a child of God, my purpose expands as I explore the depths of His heart. Each time He touches my heart, it activates a new area of life within me that will ultimately become a part of me and my ministry.
Motherhood is a journey full of surprise, joy, trust, doubt, fear, anticipation, sacrifice, laughter, tears, and every possible emotion. It has brought me to incredible highs and formidable lows. It has changed, shaped, broken and healed me. I’m convinced that’s how God designed it to be.
For those that are mothers already, I’d love to hear how motherhood has impacted your purpose and ministry in the comments below. If you hope to be mom in the future, what is your greatest hope or fear about becoming a mother?