In the Spring of 2014 I held my breath and opened an email from Arizona State University. This was it, everything I had been working towards since my freshman year of high school when I decided, quite definitively for a fourteen year old, to pursue a career in Speech Pathology. It all came down to this one email. Heart racing, hands shaking, my eyes skimmed quickly through the salutation and anchored breathlessly on one word: “Congratulations!” Air whooshed out of my lungs. I was in. I was accepted into the Masters Program at my alma mater, one of the best schools in the nation for Speech Pathology.
I’m a Type-A planner and at that point in my life, things were chugging very merrily along on my plan for, well, everything. I was graduating in several months, getting married to the love of my life several weeks later, spending the summer doing this and that while trying my hand at being a stay-at-home wifey, and then diving headfirst that Fall into a phenomenal graduate program in the field I loved. I felt sure of myself, of my path, of where I was heading. Grad school. Then my Clinical Fellowship year. Then I’d work full-time for two years and pay off some loans. Wouldn’t even think about kids until I was at least 27. Focus, focus.
Then a funny thing happened that summer. Without school or work to distract me, I slowed down for the first time in my life and really thought about what I wanted, about what I was feeling called to do for the Lord. And I was pretty sure it wasn’t Speech Pathology.
You see, I had bought into the tragic idea of our culture that parenthood (particularly stay-at-home motherhood) is not as honorable a profession as a high-income, prestigious career. And I’ll admit it, I wanted that prestige. Of course this is not to say that there aren’t honorable, God-glorifying professions apart from parenthood; I just mean that in my life, I wanted the honor and the glory for all the wrong reasons. I wanted it for myself.
I spent that summer in turmoil, desperate to cling to my educational and professional plans but painfully aware that my heart was (seemingly out of nowhere) longing for a ministry in motherhood. I flipped and flopped and wrestled with my pride. I was afraid; afraid of being seen as a “quitter,” afraid of throwing away everything I’d worked so hard for, afraid of making a colossal mistake. But then again, I was also afraid of sinking $50,000+ in loans for a degree I wouldn’t even want to use for many, many years to come (if ever).
I ended up going to grad school for one semester and it drained me in every sense of the word…emotionally, mentally, physically, even spiritually. I gave it my all that whole semester; just ask my husband – we barely saw each other during that time, the first months of our marriage that we’ll never get back. But no matter how hard I tried to love this so-called passion of mine, it all began to feel pointless to me (someone who, up until that point, had placed almost all of my value in my educational and career goals). Such a drastic change could only be because God was changing my heart and softening me for something else.
By the end of the semester, I knew I couldn’t go back. I knew the desire of my heart was not Speech Pathology but to serve the Lord in motherhood, to care for the souls He might place in my protection and to do my best to faithfully raise them up in His name. It was a huge step of faith for me (and I didn’t handle it as gracefully as I wish I had), but Jesus was so gracious to me and so tender with my heart. The day before I would have had to go back to school I took a pregnancy test…and it was positive. I gave up my spot in the graduate program that afternoon and never looked back.
My life is much different today than I ever planned for it to be. But that’s just how God works (“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9). Recently I started reading Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr. (highly recommended!) and he so perfectly and eloquently described what has been on my heart since I first started feeling my priorities shift to motherhood two years ago…
“God has a purpose that is larger than you – God has a plan that includes you – God has a place that suits you … The point, of course, is that not every person is called to the same type or place of ministry … Each of [us] has a place of ministry that suits [us] to a T and finding that place should be the passionate pursuit of [our] lives.”
That passionate pursuit for me is, and always will be, my children and my role in God’s kingdom as their mother. It took a lot of frustrating confusion, a lot of fear, a lot of stripping away my pride. But God knew where I would fit perfectly for ministry and He made sure I dedicated my life to the right pursuit. It might not be as glamorous or prestigious as a high-income career… but the work I do matters because it matters to the Lord.