It was a mixed group. I didn’t know many of the people around the table as we all sat down to a late dinner. He sat at the corner of the table and he looked me straight in the eye. With giddy expectation he asked,
“So what’s your schtick?”
He was asking me what my “thing” was. My cause. What movement I am a part of. As if everyone needs to have a cause, or a blog badge or a little tiny photo in the corner of their twitter avatar.
Should I lie and say I speak out against human trafficking? Or impoverished children? Should I say that I build wells in Africa and my goal is for every human to have clean drinking water?
“Um, I’m a mom.”
It wasn’t enough for him, apparently, because his faced dulled and his eyes glazed as he glanced over to my friend and asked her the same question. Her answer was much more professional, eloquent and far more interesting.
They began a conversation and I fiddled with the damp napkin under my water glass. I tore off a piece and wadded it up into a ball.
I half listened to their conversation, half thought about what my “schtick” was. They laughed at something.
What I didn’t tell him was that I believe in the wholeness of marriages, that my heart is to see women and men live in the beautiful relationships God designed for them. I didn’t say that I write about the dangers of emotional affairs or pornography. I didn’t say that I want to see women and men fulfilled in God and not in sexual relationships.
I didn’t say any of that.
I told him I was a mother.
Just being a mother isn’t “sexy” enough for most people. It isn’t a worldwide cause or social movement. And even speaking and writing about marriage and relationships isn’t exciting enough for a lot of people either. There isn’t anything living-on-the-edge about talking about kids and marriage.
As soon as I’m figured out, that I don’t really do anything more than mother, wife, write and occasionally speak, I’m shuffled to the back of some people’s minds as
not a “strategic” person to get to know,
unable to bring something worthwhile to the Christian table, or
What if my schtick were ONLY that I was a mother with all of the energy and intention possible, with as much gumption that I could muster, and with as much widespread love that my body could contain? It still might not be good enough. What if I were to do the best possible job at it? To impart truth and communicate grace, to sit on the floor of my 8 year old’s room and answer her big questions when it’s 30 minutes past her bedtime.
Is that an important enough cause for me to marry myself to?
I think it is.
I will do my best within MY calling. My calling may change over the course of my lifetime, but right now, today and in this upstairs bedroom as I type out this article, I know what I’m called to do.
I’m called to be a present mother. To be a proud wife. To write and speak words God gives me.
And that, I believe, is enough.
What are you called to do?
by Sarah Markley, The Best Days of My LifeLeave a Comment
Elaina Avalos says
I find it ironic that you posted about this for a lot of reasons. But you’re right in that you can and should only do what He’s called you to do whether it’s sexy or not. Or whether or not it gets you some kind of blogging world political capital.
Your calling is beautiful and has a purpose He designed. And you may not even fully realize all of those purposes this side of heaven. Whether people see it or not doesn’t matter one iota. In our humanness, that’s hard to reconcile sometimes though. This is why I stopped going to regular, local blog get togethers. While I have loved getting to know the people I did meet, I am not “strategic.” And since I’m not, it’s silly to try to be something I’m not. And saves me from allowing myself to get carried away by what I’m not. To focus on who He made me to be.
I think I have a couple of callings. Mine isn’t sexy either. And it certainly doesn’t draw any attention, especially in the Christian blogging world. When my flesh is not ruling the roost, that doesn’t matter in the least. I’m thankful He pours a big heaping pile of grace over me when I do lose sight of who I’m doing it for.
I think your schtick is to write in a way where everyone says, “You wrote that just for me!” because every time I read something of yours, even though are lives are so vastly different, I get something just for me out of it.
Me? I think I’m just called to try to live in His truth for me. That’s it, really. I’m just called to look for Him, listen for Him and say yes. No matter what that looks like.
It’s ok that mine’s not sexy. I wouldn’t know how to do it if it was 😉
Great post!! And I can so relate…
I used to feel the ‘pressure’ to be more than just a mum too. Anytime anyone would ask me what I did I’d answer “I’m now a mum but previously I was a High School Teacher”, as if adding that last bit would help me seem more important. Then when I started studying again that naturally had to be added into the conversation *lol*
Took me about 4 years into motherhood to realize just how silly I was being. Now,8 years and 5 kids later, I simply reply “I’m a mother” to the question and it feels oh so good saying it! 🙂
Beautifully expressed, Sarah.
Robin ~All Things Heart and Home says
I remember when my 4 kiddos were tiny and I felt like all I ever did was sweep the floor. So many of my friends had “real” jobs that brought in actual paychecks…but all I ever wanted to “be” was a mom. God would send someone like you along my journey to encourage me and whisper…’what you’re doing is much bigger than sweeping floors…’
Now they’re all on their own and the view is much clearer…I was indeed a part in something so much bigger than sweeping the floors.
Wonderful writing from an honest heart~
Anna B says
I wrote this comment on Sarah’s blog, but I wanted to add it here too:
So many people act like office work is exciting and fulfulling and not dull and repetitive. The comments about stay-at-home are “Oh, I know it’s repetitive, but I like it” as if working in an office ISN’T repetitive.
Guess what ladies – slaving away in an office every day isn’t sexy and romantic all the time either. You know how sometimes you just see a glimmer in your child’s eye and it’s all worth it? Office work is that way too – only much less often – every once in awhile you get a glimpse that you might be making a difference and THOSE are the times you talk about at dinner parties. Not the endless days of paperwork and frustrating re-work because someone changed their mind AGAIN… 🙂
As a single woman working full-time, I just want to say PLEASE stop feeling like staying-at-home has a special monopoly on dull routine! Working in an office is just as bad, only with less reward – at least you are making a better place for you family, while all I am doing is making better money for my CEO. Heh.
OK – rant off. Thanks for listening. 🙂
you are so enough, sarah. and you are so sexy! 😉
Jenn @ Beautiful Calling says
Awesome post. Wifehood, motherhood, womanhood….beautiful calling each one of them! Praise the Lord for His design!
I’m proud to say that my “thing” is motherhood too! Praise God. Thanks Sarah.
Michelle F says
I also am called to be a “present mother & proud wife”…and I also believe that it IS a worldwide cause – we are raising the future generation!! 🙂 Blessings!
deb @ talk at the table says
I used to think along these lines,
I know better now.
And even though I did find or notice a stay at home community in our kind of affluent area ,they were much sexier because they seemed so involved in all things school and decorating and shopping and girls nights out.
That really isn’t me.
I like being a hottie who drives her kids around and sneaks time to read on the back porch. And fill the house with good smells, and listen, love, hug, and listen more.
Melissa Runcie | Madabella: made beautiful says
Oh Sarah…I have been in the same situation, wet napkin and all. Only it was with my Dad and sister…
After a year of being home with my 2 girls, I wouldn’t trade this position for a thing.
I am just now beginning to say what I DO without saying what I USED TO DO first.
Praise God for the freedom in Christ to simply BE who He has called us to be!
A couple of things:
1) Sarah, this is a fantastic post. And you are so right that often you get shuffled back to the back burner when the answer to “What do you do?” is “I’m a mom.”
2)But have you ever thought to answer that question like this: “To impart truth and communicate grace, to sit on the floor of my 8 year old’s room and answer her big questions when it’s 30 minutes past her bedtime.” or “a mother with all of the energy and intention possible, with as much gumption that I could muster, and with as much widespread love that my body could contain.” I think a part of what makes the eyes glaze over and causes the disinterest is we sum up being a mother in terms that are, well, boring and disinteresting. I think that both of the definitons above ARE SEXY!
Well said, well said, well said!!! In our society, we tend to put the least amount of importance on some of THE most important roles. The thing I’ve learned is this: no matter how someone else may view my role as a stay-at-home mom, (or try to lessen it for that matter)the only one I need to be concerned with is God and how He views me in that role.
Clearly your ‘schtick’ was not his, but just know that God is so pleased that you are actively giving your all with being “called to be a present mother. To be a proud wife. To write and speak words God gives me.”
Bravo! You make other moms and wives like myself proud of the roles we are in, and I thank-you so much for sharing this. 🙂
Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says
Sarah, this speaks to me. Thank you.
But please know that you – JUST you without a cause or a shtick – are amazing and VERY worth knowing in my book! 🙂
Read this on the way to work from my email(at the stoplights of course :))
Before even getting to the second sentence I kept thinking… this sounds like a Sarah post… and sure enough it was and I was delighted as always.
YOU are an amazing mom. YOU are an amazing wife and friend… in watching the depth of heart you connect with people, I have long admired just who YOU are. Regardless of if you have some ginormous “call” or “shtick”… you are impacting so many lives… just cuz of who you are. And I appreciate you!
Love this, love this, love this. say it loud and let’s all say it in chorus. It matters. It changes the course of history, our mothering. Our influence. Our daily time after tiny time with our gifts of children. and family and home. Up close it looks dull and very unimpressive. It appears mindless really up close. It isn’t any of that. Look back, stand back, see the big picture, the one God sees. It’s huge. And for women who are unable to bear children and adoption hasn’t worked out – whose arms feel empty – they too mother those whom God has brought into their paths – they influence. They affect. They effect. I love them and wish they didn’t hurt for the child they haven’t had.
Charissa Steyn says
I feel 100% the same! Although.. I can’t even say I’m a mother yet! My calling right now is to be a wife, to love my husband, and to write and speak the love and freedom of Jesus Christ. I don’t have any job that makes money and somehow it makes me feel like less of a person. People respond funny to me. And most of the time I just get nervous when people ask me “So what do you do?” I usually stumble over my words, and make up something really stupid. Why can’t I just say the truth!! I love being a wife and I love following Jesus! Thank you for this genuine post Sarah 🙂 Beautiful…as always!
Wow….very eye-opening! I find myself comparing my “importance” in the world to other’s all the time. When I’m browsing around reading blogs and connecting people with one another (it seems everyone has this BIG cause they are passionate about).
It can make you feel like you’re pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
I recognize that God uses important people (popular bloggers, musicians, wives of artists etc…) to further His Kingdom. But, He’s also using mom’s who stay home and normal or average working people too!
I’ve had to learn to be careful when comparing to other’s. Satan is just looking for a way to make us feel unimportant!
My calling….is not yours and yours is not mine! Be willing to be used by God in your own personal way. Never let people put you in a box of conformity!
Amen! It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I can be more concerned with what God wants me to do than what the world expects me to do. And to be honest, I still struggle with it. That’s the thing about following His purpose for us – it’s not at all what the world says we should be doing. The world is all about self-promotion, even in the name of “schticks”. Our callings may or may not be glamorous in their glazed over eyes, but in the end it doesn’t matter. His name will be praised. He will be glorified.
I find it sad that society doesn’t value motherhood, anymore, that those of us who stay at home tend to feel unsophisticated, unattractive, and whatever ‘un’ word you’d like to use. You came to the correct conclusion, one that I have to repeat to myself. What we are doing is important, and the only validation we should need is from our heavenly Father. Thanks for your post!
Very nice post. I’m sure many moms are struggling with the same questions in today’s high paced, gotta be sexy, culture.
Being a mom is one of the highest callings. A mom’s top priority should be to transfer God’s values and standards in to the next generation. If you don’t do it, who will? Even women who do not have children of their own are responsible for this general calling for women (http://bit.ly/bLQU6M). We must impart God’s standards and values into the lives of any children that come into our circle of influence. And, that is being a mother.
Susan Smythe says
If you respond in a way that seems like you’re not comfortable or proud of the role you play – mother – than that is what the person asking what your thing is hears, your despondency or I’m JUST a mom” eyeore attitude. Next time you’re asked what you do, tell them you’re the best wife, mother, and child of God that you know how to be and that you write a blog of encouragement to women and say it with a smile!
Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor says
There’s a deleted scene from the movie The Incredibles DVD (which I only saw once years ago so I’ll probably botch this horribly). A new acquaintance asks Mrs. Incredible at a BBQ what she does and at the words, “I’m a mom” immediately becomes disillusioned. But this new acquaintance has no idea that she’s not JUST a mom, she’s a superhero!
I find myself doing the same thing when I meet someone new. I try to give them a quick label in beginning to know them, their “schtick” I suppose. But as I learn more about them and find out how many things they do and are involved in, they really start to look like superheroes to me.
Great article, Sarah. I think there needs to be a resurgence of emphasis and priority put on mothering as well as respect given to it. It is a calling to aspire to – not one to be relegated to.
Wow, this post was so inspiring to me! I had the same thing happen to me once. A woman I had just met had asked me what I ‘do’. I told her I’m a housewife. She proceeded to ask me, “no, what do you DO?”. Like being a good and supporting housewife to my husband wasn’t enough. I had to do MORE, I have to BE more. God put me here for a reason and I think it’s to be with this wonderful man I’m with and show him God’s grace that he’s been wanting in his life for so long. I’m showing him that God DOES listen to prayers, maybe not when YOU pray for them but when He gives you His response. Bless you!
Rachel @ the science of music says
I’ve had this same kind of experience. People don’t know how to talk to me once I say “I’m a mom”. It doesn’t bother me too much, because even though being a mom isn’t sexy enough for some people, it’s enough for me. I matter – to my family. I don’t need to matter to others because my job isn’t to matter to others. Sometimes it bothers me, but usually it doesn’t. I know that my mission field is my children and I’m confident in the job I’m doing!
Thank you so much for this. I really needed to read it today.
I have to share this post. Speaks right to my heart, Sarah.
Being a mother, just a mother, is MORE than enough!
Mmm, hmmm. That’s right, girl. It is enough.
Dawn Camp says
Good for you! Yes, I think your calling as you described is enough.
Laura@Life Overseas says
Thanks, Sarah. I loved your writing of this very-normal situation. A situation where you were ushered into feeling “not enough.”
I totally relate to your response. My husband is currently doing a pretty dramatic ministry, and I am being asked to be in the background. To quietly serve. To homeschool our kids. To bloom in the dark. To continue in love though no one applauds. Unfortunately, I find that I rather prefer the applause and the attention, and when that is stripped away, Christ-following in the mundane seems . . . harder.
Thanks for the reminder that I live for an Audience of One.
Sarah, this post was beautiful. Your writing style drew me in and I found myself there, too, twisting the wet napkin.
I like what Anna B said, and how Wanda pointed out “the how do I compare to others” thing all of us women do.
I think Andrea summed it up best by saying it’s not about us but about doing what the Lord has called us to do. And in doing that, we may not be noticed. But we are not to be noticed–He is. And I’m still learning that!
Heather Gemmen Wilson says
I once wrote a DM (private message) to my husband on Twitter: “u cleaned the bathroom … ur sexy!” Turned out I hit the wrong button and made it public, but oh well. Commitment to the home and family IS sexy! Great blog entry, Sarah!
love it, thank you! i’m so thankful for mamas to celebrate the humble, messy, holiness of motherhood with…
If I had truly listened and my eyes were open when i read about your affair i wouldnt have commited adultery. Your calling is noble and valuable.
I was just thinking about this very topic today. There is a woman that, outside of my family, has made one of the biggest impacts on my life. Though I have only met her in person a few brief times, a big part of who I am today is because of her influence…or should I say, the influence of her children. She has raised up seven godly children, three of which especially have gone on to influence thousands and thousands of people. As she goes to be with Jesus, I just hope that someday I can be that same kind of godly woman like Mrs. Sono Harris.
lisa @thebeadgirl says
beautifully written. thank you!
I think being a mom is sexy. And being a daughter of the King…even hotter!
Laurie Wallin says
Thanks for your post, Sarah. I’m in the middle of your article at the moment… starting a business, having a clear calling both to it and my four daughters. Not wanting to miss out on them, but also longing to grow on my own. So frustrating!!! So glad to connect with a kindred spirit (here and on Twitter – I follow you there too).
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