Which Kind of Service?

I struggle daily with my own high expectations. I want to be the kind of mom who can sew quilts, make scrapbooks, cook homemade, do my own art, help the kids do art, write, take the kids on adventures, play games, stamp cards, send cards, spend time with friends, serve at church and bless my family (both nuclear and extended) with time and attention. That’s all, really. Is that too much to ask?

If I only had my two boys, who are pretty well disciplined and are in school at least part time, I could have a lot more scrapbook pages. I would definitely have a lot more time to keep my house clean, read books, write, and do the kinds of things that make me happy. Honestly, though, it hasn’t bothered me too much to give up the things that only affect me. My problem is when I think about the way it affects the others in my life, too.

If it weren’t for fostering, I would have been able to volunteer twice as much at school. I could have been the room mom and been on top of the emails and the teacher gifts and maybe even baked a loaf or two of banana bread to show my appreciation now and then. (When I was teaching, one parent did that for me, and I loved it.) If it weren’t for fostering, I could have visited my grandmother more often this year to have lunch and chat. I could have lightened the load of my mom and my sister and my aunt and my mother-in-law instead of making it heavier as they helped with my foster kiddos so I could have a break. I could have spent more time having coffee with friends and listening to their problems and offering tangible support. I could have met up with the two women in my life who have become new moms this year to lighten their loads now and then. I could have kept volunteering in Sunday School at church and continued on as den mother in cub scouts next year. I could have made a quilt for the dear friend whose baby I photographed this morning. I could have made a small difference in a whole lot of lives this year if it weren’t for fostering.

That is one kind of service: doing a lot of wonderful little things for a lot of people. Each of those little things can brighten a day, bring on a smile, make a real difference in a life.

Then there’s the other kind of service: doing just a few big things for just a few people. Taking care of someone else’s child day in and day out, in sickness and in health. Giving birth parents pictures and mother’s day cards and birthday presents. Showing two questionable parents tangible love by caring for their daughter and driving her to see them four times a week. Daily loving a precious baby girl and making her part of a stable family. It’s a shorter paragraph than the one above. It means serving fewer people, but serving them more deeply.

Which kind of service is God calling me to? Both kinds of service are equally important and equally necessary.

When I get down to the nitty gritty, I wonder whether I am short-changing the ones I love most by choosing the second path right now. Is it the right move? When you decide to have another baby, will your older kids lose out on time with you? When you feel called into foreign missions, will your family have to give up things they love? When you volunteer your service, will it overwhelm your daily life? When you make another commitment, will it affect your ability to keep your sanity, not to mention keeping a peaceful home? I don’t think there are any right answers here. Sometimes the answer is yes, it will be a big burden on your life, and you should do it anyway. Sometimes the answer is yes, and you shouldn’t do it. Hmmm…why couldn’t God have made life a little more clear-cut?

We will probably only have Midge for another six months or so. What then? Will God call us into a “doing lots of wonderful little things for a lot of people” ministry, or a “doing just a few big things for a few people” ministry? Should I feel guilty if He calls me to go deeper into just a few lives? Will my kids feel resentful? Will my loved ones feel bitter? Will I lose friendships because I don’t have the time to nurture them?

Too bad life doesn’t come with a typed out instruction manual. Instead I have to do the messy and sometimes hazy work of praying and seeking and searching with Greg until we both feel called in the same direction. And then I just hope that I don’t look back, because you’ll never know what life would have been like if you had taken the other path. Which is why I want to be sure to take the path God calls me to, not the one that my selfish heart or my friends or even my relatives tell me to take.

Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Matthew 16:24-25 Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

LORD, help us to give up the lives that we want in exchange for the one You want for us.

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