In my teens, I was a dreamer. I dreamed about who I would marry, what kind of job I would have, what my house would look like, how many kids I would have….you get the idea.
In my 20s, I became a wisher. I would spend time wishing I could be a certain type of wife with a certain type of home. I wished I had specific personality traits that other people had. I wished I would be a certain kind of mother to my babies….a copy of other moms I knew. I would hope to someday have certain types of friends and do certain activities with said friends.
In my 30s, I have noticed that I have become more of a “do-er.” I’m no longer content to sit by and wish for change. I am realizing that we only live this one life, and it is but a breath. I realized that I don’t want to be at the end of my life, and know that I always played it safe because I was scared to say “yes.” I don’t want to be remembered as a consumer of life, but as an exuberant participant–someone who carried Light.
For me, what this decision has looked like has effected every aspect of my life. For instance, the thought of adoption was scary. I was always under the impression that people only adopted when they had their act together…..when all the dots connected….then you could adopt. I knew we were far from that, but we didn’t want to watch life pass by while we wondered “what if?” For us, it wasn’t about waiting for everything to align under the sun–it was about saying, “Yes, we are willing to do this.” I can’t even put into words the blessings (in many forms) this “yes” has poured over our family. Adding this sweet number four, sometimes feels like a roller-coaster…..4 tiny little lives that have been entrusted into our care. Andy and I knew we wanted a large family, but saying “yes” to that decision knowing our own short-comings has, at times, seemed like a crazy decision. Some people have a zillion kids, and seem to conduct their family so effortlessly–so patiently. Not so for us….we survive only under the grace and forgiveness of a Father. This “yes,” though, is undoubtedly my highest calling. The daily feeding, teaching, cleaning, playing, loving, training……..this is the greatest “yes” I could make.
I also wanted to have great friends. Friends that live life together….that share life in each other’s homes. Friends that laugh and cry together; friends that pray for each other. Friends that know my favorite foods, what size shoe I wear, and all my crazy quirks. Honestly, I wanted friends who invited me to do things….who enjoyed spending time with me and my family. I spent A LOT of time in my 20s wishing for that. The last few years, I’ve decided to try and be that friend to others, and see where it goes. Friendships don’t form overnight, and the last few years, we have cultivated such amazing friendships with people in our small group and community. It just took stepping out of the fear of rejection, and saying “yes” to putting myself out there. And through the “yes,’ I’ve formed friendships that I honestly couldn’t get through the day without. Most of this “yes” has been a result to open my home. We live in a culture of Pinterest and Fixer Upper (guilty of both), and no one is able to reach the invisible standard we think exists to have a perfect home. We spend crazy amounts of time and money trying to make our homes picture perfect, but never letting anyone in to enjoy them with us. I’ve learned in my 30s that people don’t remember if your house is cute and well-decorated….they remember if it was comfortable and safe–a place where they laughed and felt loved. In my 20s, I wanted to live a legacy of hospitality…..but was too scared to do it. Now, I find that the more I open my home, the less scary it is, and the more delighted I am to share it. The greatest compliments I have ever received from guests have nothing to do with a certain accent chair or picture frame, but have been in the form of “I am so comfortable in your home. I can just relax.”
In my 20s, I had the heart to be used by the Lord, but (oh, how I’m embarrassed to admit this) if I had been asked how many unbelievers I knew or was friends with, I wouldn’t have been able to name more than a couple. How sad. If I had been asked who around me was hurting or trapped in addiction or struggling in a failing marriage, I would have shrugged my shoulders. I prayed that the Lord would open my eyes to those around me and help me just be a friend, a safe place for someone. The last few years, God has answered that prayer, and it has put me in the position of having to choose to say yes again—yes to stepping into chaos with people, choosing to help carry a burden. At times, it has even meant stepping in harm’s way to walk with someone through their pain. This is an area where it is so much easier to say “no.” To make excuses like “It’s too hard with kids,” or “I don’t have time at this season of life.” I have to remind myself that THIS is what matters in life. THESE are the opportunities that have eternal value, and we were made to love each other and bring light into the dark places.
I’ve contemplated lately that there is nothing wrong with being a dreamer and a wisher….but if we aren’t “do-ers” then our hopes and dreams hold no value. This post isn’t a declaration of my figuring it out, but more of an encouragement to say yes to things that might be scary. I have had SO many people tell me the last few years that they wish they had adopted or have thought about adopting, or people who desperately want to open up their homes, but feel gripped with the fear that it isn’t enough. This post is my little nudge to say “yes”……God can do great things with a willing heart.