I had a few years of my life that I had the stereotypical mindset of many psych majors--"I want to help people!" There's nothing wrong with that. It sounds great, but many of my professors would encourage me to think of another reason for wanting to study psychology. I can see why they would say that now.
After I graduated, I got a job working as a counselor to drug addicts. I knew it would be a challenging community to tackle, but I had no idea how much it would drain me. I embarrassingly quickly gave up on trying to change these people and developed this mindset-
and I knew it was time to hang up my hat. I turned in my notice and applied to graduate school. My plan was to study marriage and family therapy techniques and focus on what I thought (and still do!) was the most important catalyst for change, the family.
By this point, I had met J and we were pretty serious. He was deployed so I had plenty of time to work on this degree. He got home from Iraq a year later and my purpose began to shift in my eyes. I put my studying on hold to welcome him home, set up our lives together and get married to a man in uniform. When he was away, I knew it was because he was doing something important. He was training people who were heading off to war. He was serving. If he was stateside, he was a link in the proverbial chain and he was needed therefore I felt like I was doing something important. Being married to the military is a difficult task at times. You have to hold the fort down while they're gone. You might be given roles to help support all the wives that are left behind during a deployment. You might me appointed to help with fundraising for your significant other's company. The point is that I developed a bit of identity in being an Army wife and thus Mrs. K and Captain J was born. That was something for me. I love to write and starting that blog gave me an outlet. It also allowed me to make a little money and that gave me the feeling that I was contributing in a small way. Still, I hated that I started something I didn't finish so I continued to study to obtain my graduate degree from a different school.
My kids came along, one right after the other, and I settled into the idea that my purpose is in them. I know it is. But that makes for some lonely days. Now when my husband goes off to work as a civilian and has to work long hours, I don't have that cushion that makes me feel better about it because he's off working to help keep America's soldiers safe. So I'm annoyed. I look around and see all these beautiful kids and know that I should be doing X, Y, and Z to prepare them to be contributing, functioning adults and more importantly, to introduce them to the only One who can give them purpose in this life. But man is it lonely. I know I have plenty of mom acquaintances who know this, but because my kids are so close together (not school age) and one of them has special needs (lots of weekly appointments), I know that my job is here at home. I don't get paid for the work I'm doing and therefore I don't always feel like my job is contributing. There's nothing wrong with being a mom and having a job. Just as there's nothing wrong with being called to not have a job outside of my kids. I struggle with my calling. I've always been envious of those people who have always known what they were supposed to do with their lives- teachers, pharmacists, whatever. I know my purpose (at least for now) rests solely in four little hearts. It doesn't make me any more or any less than anyone else, but I do struggle with feeling slightly empty. When you don't get to go to the bathroom by yourself, shower, spend time getting dressed, be able to study the bible alone, or especially just have ten minutes where no one is asking anything pressing of you, you start to internalize that you don't deserve help. You are the help. You do it all. You exist for everyone else. There's nothing special about you. That's why it becomes lonely. I'm surrounded by little people who need me and a bunch of others who probably don't even see me until I lose my mind and quit washing the dishes, the laundry, or the babies.
But I just try to speak truth into my own life when I'm feeling this way--
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interest...have the same mindset as Christ Jesus..." *He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant! (see Philippians 2:3-8)
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20)
My purpose is as a wife and mother right now and that's okay. Maybe that will change and maybe it won't.
Whatever you are called to in this point of your life, work at it as if you're working for the Lord (because you are! See Colossians 3:23).
I work hard. I love hard. I have to die to myself daily. That's the hardest part. The selfishness is strong in me, but I know my children deserve the best so I'll keep fighting these feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and longing. Sometimes all it takes is picking my sweet three month old off of her play mat and looking into her big innocent eyes, watching her coo and kick, and remembering that this is what life is all about. I can slow down for today. It's Friday after all and I've been solo parenting all week long. I'll just scoop up my kids this morning, hold them and show them how loved they are by me and their Heavenly Father. Because this stage of my life is important, too and I will miss it when it's gone.