It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it ruins my day. It generally takes place when I am in line at the grocery store, or scrunched between my six kids in the sales aisle searching for the best price on boy's underwear. The scene goes something like this....
I look down and realize that my oldest son has two different shoes on -- a rubber, yellow boot and a brown sandal. My youngest daughter is pulling long, stretchy, strands of gum out of her hair and sticking them to the back of her sister's shirt, who, at the sudden realization, begins protesting (wide-eyed and grossed out) way too loudly.
In the meantime, the wet two-year-old on my hip begins sneezing uncontrollably on account of his weird habit of winding locks of my un-brushed hair around his finger and shoving the ends up his nose. And when I look up at my oldest daughter with my much used "could you help me, please?!!" stare, I realize that she's standing there, frozen -- dead asleep -- eyes open, but snoring.
And that's when "She" walks by. It’s the woman with the perfect hair and the stunning, unwrinkled (Taco-Bell-sauce-free) suit. She strolls by with an easy step without tripping over children or dragging along stragglers by the collar. She has perfect nails, matching shoes, diamond earrings, and lightly holds the keys to her two-seater BMW in her clutter-free hand. She does not have baby wipes or subtraction flash cards poking out of the top of her bag.
She is not in a hurry, she is not frantically searching to get what she came for and then get out before the "screamer" goes off. She seems so free. And on my worst days, I abandon all that I know to be true and follow her in my mind by jumping onto the 'What If…' bus.
I know where the 'What If' bus goes. It travels from, "I Could Have Been" to "If Only", stopping just long enough to tour the supposed highlights of glamorous possibilities that were forsaken when I signed up for Christ and then later said "I Do" to the man that my Heavenly Father brought me.
The "What If…" bus takes me to prestigious colleges, to journalism school, to quiet libraries, to an exciting job in a plush office at a top selling magazine or major newspaper in a busy high rise, or to hot, sandy beaches where my tummy isn't squishy, or 'oogelly googelly" (as my five-year-old coined it). The 'What If…' bus promises to be a tantalizing tour, but when I get back from my little trip I am irritated, impatient, discontent, and sour. It always brings emptiness.
The prince of this world encourages us to covet, to become discontent, and to believe the grass is greener on the other-side by using subtle strokes of "If Only..." He gives glimpses of a leisurely 'good life' that we deserve. How is it that I can so quickly lose sight of what my blessings are, and see them instead as a hindrance or as a small six-by-ten cell? It is a good thing that my husband yanked out the TV antennae because I am way too easily deceived by empty perceptions. The days that I struggle maintaining my focus are, without a doubt, the very worst.
What I fail to remember when I climb those steps onto the "What if…" bus, is that I don't know the ins-and-outs of the lives of those women who I envision as 'free'. Are they happy? Do they lie in bed every night giggling with glee to be where they are in life? Is their life even what I imagine it to be? Probably not. But even if they do have perfectly wonderful lives what would it have to do with the precious life my Father has blessed me with?
One day, a while back, when I was rummaging through a dusty, little, novelty shop, I came across a great poster of a beautiful and unique, full, vibrant flower, which was planted in a plain, brown, cracked pot; the saying written beneath it has become one of my favorites.
It said, Bloom Where You're Planted.
God has put me where I am for a reason. I know that He has a purpose for my life, and I know (despite my occasional 'trips') that I'm blessed. I know that I would not trade my crazy, hectic life for anything. The thought of not having my children around me, the thought of not seeing my girls spin in circles with their 'princess dresses', or the thought of not being woke up to my son with his chubby little hand on my cheek, whispering, 'You're the fairest one of all', is overwhelming. I could not imagine my life without the joy and pride I feel when I see my two oldest daughters serving our family out of their love for God. And my littlest son, even when he is sticking my hair up his nose, is the most precious and darling gift that I could wish for.
What if I did not have them? Who would they become if I were dashing off to carry out a life of self-fulfillment? Could any type of glamorous life replace what I have? Is there any dream that pursues 'self' that can give the satisfaction and joy that my family brings? I am where God has placed me; I can "Bloom where I have been planted" and make my life beautiful in this little garden as I grow in the love and knowledge of my Lord, stretching upward to honor Him with what I've been given.
The World would have you believe that you have sold yourself short if you have given your life to God, to your husband, and to your family. The World would have you believe that the role of "homemaker" is archaic or even barbaric and that women should be out realizing their full potential.
But truly, when I am old and gray, I could care less if I never hear, "Mrs. Igarashi, you've just been made CEO of XYZ company", or "Mrs. Igarashi, you've just won the 'Best Dressed and Nicest Nails' award" or even, "Congratulations, Jen, you've just won the Pulitzer Prize". No. What I really want to hear someday, is, "You were always there, Mom, even when it was hard or boring or messy and exhausting. You must have loved us so very much." And when my time here is up, and I leave my little Garden, I want to hear from my Lord, "Well done, my good and faithful servant".
God bless you as you remember why you follow Him, and be strengthened with the knowledge of His love and perfect purpose for your life. May I remember as well.
"She watches over the affairs of household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." ~ Proverbs 31:27-29
Originally published on January 19, 2009
Jenefer Igarashi lives in East TN with her husband, Geoff the Great; together they homeschool their six kids on a little farm. She can be contacted by email, Jeneferig@gmail.com, or thru her blog, http://jeneralities.com/