What is the lesson that has taken you the longest to learn?
The hardest lesson that I have struggled for years to accept is that no matter what my vocation is, no matter what my accomplishments in the world look like, that my value and worth are a constant, and that won’t ever change.
As a three on the Enneagram, I typically seek to find value and worth from public accolades, accomplishments and overall achievement. Before you go off thinking that sounds awfully self-centered and narcissistic, I encourage you to explore your own Enneagram type to see your own motivations, good and not as good. None of this is inherently bad about me. To achieve, and to accomplish, are two things that we need to make the world go round. I have a heart for justice and philanthropy, for moms and women to feel valuable and worthy, and for women to rise up as leaders with seats at the table across all vocations. My motivation behind pouring myself into this work is not inherently self-centered, it’s actually the opposite – I want to see YOU flourish. But grinding it out in the daily monotony of raising kids oftentimes gives me approximately NONE of that sense of accomplishment or achievement, and thus I find myself on bad days feeling like there are bigger and better things that I can be doing that will yield fruit and results quicker. Can you relate?
It has been such a struggle to accept that the work that I’m doing everyday in raising these kids is actual work, and work that is worth my time and effort.
But what I have come to learn is that regardless of the results, my purpose is not tied to my vocation, and my worth is not tied to my vocation, and my value as an overall human is not tied to my vocation either.
Our vocation does not determine our value and worth. This is especially true for those who pour themselves into the most thankless jobs like teaching, motherhood, working with the elderly and special needs communities – demographics of people who can’t, and most likely won’t, give you the proper credit you deserve for the work that you are doing.
But the lack of praise and accolades does not matter. There is work to be done, and we must set aside the carrot of American success in order to make an impact.
Your impact for the greater humanity is worth more in gold than any accolade or achievement-based praise. You are doing good, hard work and if no one else is telling you, let me be the first: IT IS GOOD.
Finding Purpose Without Achievement
Last night as I was tucking my son into bed, he was stressing about a toenail that was about to fall off due to a slight pantry accident (jar on toe…YOWSERS). He was ridden with fear, and I was just assuming that it had everything to do with the potential pain that would come when the toenail actually fell off. But as I tried to assure him that it wouldn’t be that bad, and we would get through the pain, the truth finally came out behind his anxiety: he was worried people would make fun of him for not having a toenail, not the actual pain that would come.
And isn’t this true for us too? We stress, and worry and pour ourselves into things because we are worried what others might think of us. As a mom, I know that I oftentimes am worried that people think I’m not doing enough. That when my kids act out, hit, yell, throw themselves down in a tizzy, that the judgement is being sent my way because IT’S MY JOB to raise them, and “clearly” I’m not succeeding at that. So instead I work hard to get my children to alter their behavior, instead of tackling their hearts. I do this out of fear of what others might say or think of me. When in actuality, the truth is that my value and worth is not tied to my children’s behavior.
So many of us are seeking what our “calling” is, what our “thing” is. Maybe you’ve seen some friends of yours online go down the oils path, or campaigning for better beauty products, or whatever, and you have felt left behind and stuck wondering what YOUR thing is. Surely there is purpose and cause in that work, and you want that for yourself! For me, this limbo-land has been where I’ve resided for years. Feeling like surely there is so much more for me than “just” this mothering gig, but not really knowing how to tie in my desires to raise a family with the longings and yearnings for utilizing the gifts that I feel I have been given toward a cause or work that is outside of the home. With each failed attempt at a new “vocation”, all of the feelings of worthlessness, incompetency and stuck would come rushing back.
Ultimately, I had to learn and come to terms with the fact that there would be no vocation, no job, no task, no accomplishment or world-changing achievement that would fulfill the worth and identity bucket I was seeking to fill.
As women, we are expected to do it all these days. It is not good enough to just be a mom, but instead there are cultural pressures to be all of the things. But whether its oils, makeup, DIY design, writing or a regular 9-5, none of them will give you the satisfaction and value that you are seeking. Sure, it will give you an outlet (and I’m still actively on the hunt for one of those that will stick for me!), but I have learned that it will not solve my problems the way that I have built it up in my head to do. My value and worth are secure right now, right where I’m at, without any attached vocation, or maybe in your case, despite any attached vocation.
Our job, our vocation, is not tied to our worth.
So I encourage you, pursue the things; pursue the outlets. There are SO MANY awesome things available now to women looking to bridge the gap of income or time in their family life, but know that you do not NEED this in order to be something greater. Strive for more, reach for greater – I’m an advocate of that for sure! But do not discount what you are doing right now, and WHO YOU ARE, right now. These things are enough. Being a mom is enough.
Rest in that. Receive it to be true. And as you move forward, choose to operate and see your value and worth from a place of abundance rather than lacking. You do not lack anything that will be fulfilled in a vocation.
When we chase our worthiness instead of embracing it, we eventually will run out of breath…We can choose to believe in our worth, whether we have thick hair or thin, whether we have pale skin or dark, whether we have extra cushion or a super-thin frame. We are worthy because we are here!
The work that you are doing at home matters. This is the next generation we’re talking about. You are enough, and what you are doing is enough. When we can choose to see that we are already there, the carrot loses it’s luster and we can find joy and purpose right where we’re at, in our everyday lives. And once gratitude and fullness enters our mindset, that is when our hearts and our hands are ready to expand (potentially) into other jobs, other work, other outlets.
You’re doing great today mama! Your work matters and my hope and prayer for you is that you will begin to believe that you are enough right where you’re at, doing all that you are doing right now, without needing to be or add anything else to your plate. Your worth and identity are secure, and I hope that gives you permission to allow your hearts and soul to just rest.
Breathe a sigh of relief.
You are enough.
*All photography credit attributed to Lindsay Hale Photography