If you are one of the five people who read my blog you will notice that this is yet another long-winded, “Kirsten’s deep thoughts” kind of posts instead of just pictures of the most adorable two children on the face of the planet (no I am not talking about the Olsen twins).
There are a couple of really good reasons for this.
The first is that for some reason my computer has not been uploading pictures from my camera the last several times I have tried. I am unsure if the camera, the cord, or my computer is to blame but let me just say you are seriously missing out on some majorly cute pictures and a video of Evangeline spinning around on our floor much like a record on a record player.
The second is that I am still up in Madison working Orientation for New Staff and my little ones are staying with Grandma and Grandpa McCarty down a ways in Illinois. We have a Sabbath on Saturday and so Jon and I are driving down to pick them up and we will have them here with us the second half of ONS.
I have been very thankful that my parents are watching Evangeline and Zachary this week so that I could fully invest in my role here.
In one of our afternoon sessions today I got into a good conversation with one of the new staff and we wanted to continue our conversation and so we went to lunch together and spent that time talking about our thoughts on women in ministry, the relationship between the church and the para-church, and how excited we were about getting on campus in August because we are both hoping to launch ministries to some new people groups on campus. That isn’t really something I could do so spontaneously if our kids were here.
And honestly it feels good to be available, be 100% invested in these new young staff and my job here. But as I have been facilitating our group time this week, getting lunch with new people, connecting with other program staff and just in general feeling more alert and energetic as I don’t have little mouths to feed or bedtime melt-downs to deal with – as I have been living that kind of life this week I feel incomplete.
I am really enjoying myself and don’t get me wrong I am thankful that I am free from handling tantrums this week and I am thankful for the opportunity to get to give my undivided attention, but the fact of the matter is that I am a mother and in becoming a mother my entire identity has changed, even if my kids aren’t here with me physically.
I recently read a book* which talks about the Christian transformation into new life using the common caterpillar to butterfly metaphor. The author pointed out how often disciples of Jesus live their lives as simply having something added to their existing selves, instead of actually becoming a brand new creation. When caterpillars become butterflies they actually go from being one kind of creature to something completely new and different. Their whole bodies sort of liquify into a soupy mess within their raccoons before reforming and emerging as a butterfly.
Butterflies are brand new creatures, not just worms with wings.
In the same way, Christians are not just people with some religious stuff added on to their old selves – we are new creations through the death and resurrection of Christ.
Similarly mothers aren’t just women with kids attached to their hips, they become new and different.
They are mothers and yes there are common characteristics (sacrificing, multitasking, nurturing) that emerge and yes there might be a uniform (mom jeans and spit-up on your shirt) and don’t get me started on the ways our bodies have changed.
But there is an internal change that is deeper and more permanent than characteristics and clothing choices and yes even more permanent than flabby skin and stretch marks. And although being a mother is not my sole identity, it has changed me (for the better, I think) and transformed me.
So this week I haven’t simply been a worm wondering around without her wings, I am still a butterfly even when Zachary isn’t sitting on my left hip and as a mother the way I do ministry, the way I love others, the concerns of my heart and the thoughts in my mind are different because I am now a mother.
I am really excited for next week for my kids to be here even though that will mean my attention is once again divided. I really want my family group members (who are all couples who have been married two years or less and childless) to meet Evangeline and Zachary. I am looking forward to lunch meetings where I talk multi-ethnicity and evangelism and chapter growth and prayer and family with these new staff members in between making sure Zach has had enough to eat and telling Evie to quit playing with her food.
I am so eager to show off the stunningly beautiful set of wings that mark me as a mother; my two children.
I am beyond thankful that I don’t just have a label “Christian” tacked on top of my old self, but that God has made me new and given me new identity in Him, new life, and new purpose.
And I am beyond thankful that part of that new purpose includes raising Evangeline and Zachary, and also helping college students follow Jesus.
*The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith -definitely recommend it!