I think that most of us desire to be needed – we like to be valued and we like to contribute – but there are times when the demands become exhausting.
In the last few years I have known the physical and emotional exhaustion too well and I have often found myself questioning my role and the value of my contribution in the world. As a mother at home, the feeling of being ‘less than’ has often reared its ugly little head.
In October, I was super fortunate to take a break from my ‘mothering duties’. I enjoyed the luxury of a long child-free flight across the ocean to spend time with friends I hadn’t seen in 10 years. It was a time I will forever be grateful for. It was restful and rejuvenating, it was full of laughter and reminiscing, and it was awash with tears and healing.
And it got me thinking.
Time away from the every day has a tendency to change our perspective. For me, I saw with new eyes how I can best be contributing to my world at this time. And I really do mean ‘MY’ world, not ‘the‘ world, but really, truly ‘my’ world.
You see, the struggle has been real this past year or two. I have been wrestling long and hard with how best to make use of my time, energy, gifts and resources and how to make my life significant.
To be honest, I’ve yearned to contribute something BIG and spectacular. I have been searching for ways to engage in something ‘more meaningful’, ‘more recognised’, something that REALLY ‘makes a difference’.
It is easy to scroll through our social media feeds and feel that somebody else is doing more, being more and contributing more. It is easy to feel that we aren’t doing enough. It is easy to feel that our life – that which is right in front of us – is boring or lacking.
In my bid to not cower at home but rather be someone who ‘dares greatly’ and ‘jumps into the arena’ (as Roosevelt so eloquently spoke of and Brené Brown so expertly elaborated on), I have sacrificed some important things. At times my attention on home, family and community has been sidelined in favour of searching for something more stimulating and more ‘important’ to engage my time and energy.
There is definitely a time to be involved in ‘big’ things, but during the time away from my family, I was reminded that the contribution I make in the lives of my three young daughters is beyond measure. Parenting can be exhausting and therefore it demands my attention, focus and wholeheartedness.
Also, just beyond the walls of my home, the way I engage with those around me can make a significant impact. I can pour love into the lives of people around me in simple ways. There are people in my neighbourhood and my school community that could do with even just a little of my time or attention. I can contribute in simple but meaningful interactions that aren’t big, flashy or recognised – but make more difference than I may ever understand.
Stepping into the arena doesn’t necessarily mean being in the public eye, being recognised for incredible feats, or finding our one big ‘calling’.
I’m not sure what my 2017 will look like, and perhaps you are wondering about yours, but what I do know is that some of our best contributions start with focusing our love and attention right here, right now – right where we are.