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Monday, July 20, 2015

All That I'm Called to Be

I had heard the song on the radio or Pandora before, but it wasn't until I opened a link from Chris Stefanick's newsletter around Father's Day with his words, "This song cuts me to the heart," that I saw Sanctus Real's video for Lead Me for the first time. As I watched it in the quiet of the morning before waking up the rest of the family to leave on vacation, the words really sunk in and resonated with me. I could relate to Stefanick's words related to the song "[cutting] me to the heart."

Though written from the perspective of a father, I could easily see myself in it as a busy working mom and wife. The first decade of our marriage was a swirl of events - college degrees, careers, having children, moving, buying houses, my husband's residency and citizenship. As our tenth anniversary approached, my husband pointed out many of these events and then asked a question that caused me to pause and reflect, "What will we be looking back on in another ten years?"

I realized that more than anything, I wanted to be able to say 10 years down the road that I was able to focus on my family. More important than other milestones or accolades, I wanted to be able to say that I was able to reel in my career and align my life to showing that my family was a top priority.

As a result, August 2012 - August 2022 is a time frame in which I want to continually ask myself what progress I have made, which moments felt the most significant in order to prioritize similar scenarios, and to to consider how to problem solve challenges. Inspired by Ali Edwards' One Little Word, I have been doing Focus of a Decade: Family alongside my yearly words.

Almost 3 years in it is easy to see that I made some attempts in the right direction but was still frequently feeling overwhelmed. This year my focus on family collided with my One Little Word: core. All of my other attempts set me up to see that while I was making some overall progress, something bigger was needed. I needed deep honest reflections about the underlying issues behind my career/family challenges. I needed to make myself realize that being a wife and a mother couldn't always be coming in second and third to my career. I needed to realize that I had wrapped so much of my identity into being an educator that I often had a sense of too many "have tos" that I was working toward an unrealistic moving target of all that I wanted to do, which was counter-productive to feeling enough in any of my roles. It was about recognizing the vocation I chose - married life and that being a wife and mom can't always be when I finish my other to-dos.

So I began my journey to focus on the core - to determine what was most important in my different roles in life and then consider how to accommodate, shift, and eliminate as needed in order to align my life with the core.

Surprisingly, though I had appreciated moments in my life where I had a stronger prayer life and more active involvement in my church community, it was often lost in the shuffle of the career/family juggle. I had not intended that this year would point me again and again to my faith. It was counter-intuitive to add another big component into a juggle that had already felt overwhelming as a dichotomy; yet, I should have recognized all those  years that what I really needed to make significant progress with that career/family struggle was to prioritize faith and the rest would fall into place. Ironically, I have even had a Faith, Family, Friends image on my wall for years, and of course, there are frequent reminders at church to put God first. For whatever reason, I still just didn't get it.

That's why lines like these from the song hit me at the core:
So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love,
Chasing things that I could give up

I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone

Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone

*Note: When I went to get the link to the Sanctus Real website, I noticed Matt Hammitt's statement about leaving the band. I got goosebumps as I read, "'I've been traveling far and wide singing the song 'Lead Me', but now I want to sing it less and live it more.' [...] I've always struggled to reconcile my life on the road away from Sarah and the kids, but after all these years I'm confident that my calling is to be at home more, consistently making God and family my ultimate priority." I am feeling even more inspired by the song now and look forward to listening to Matt Hammitt's podcasts.

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