The girls and I had a chance to have a brief visit with Madeline’s godmother Lili this week (the above photo is from our get-together). She just returned from a medical trip to Ghana (she’s a pediatric fellow at NYU) and was spending a few days in Atlanta before she headed to Honduras to volunteer at an orphanage. The Honduras trip came about because she wasn’t going to be able to make it to India where she frequently volunteers with the Missionaries of Charity. While others submersed in their medical training might choose to lounge at the beach (and who could blame them when they spend many, many hours ministering to others in the hospital wards?), Lili uses her limited vacation time to help others.
Not surprisingly, being around Lili sometimes makes me feel like one big slacker.
The two of us have been friends since the seventh grade and even then we both shared a love for Mother Teresa. We talked about our idealistic plans of “loving until it hurts” and serving the poorest of the poor.
Lili has obviously turned her ideals into reality.
Meanwhile, I’m searching for sippy cups MIA and working tangled nests out of little girls’ hair.
At the time I became pregnant with my first child, I belonged to an interdenominational Bible study that was comprised mostly of medical students who planned on doing medical missions. As a mom-to-be surrounded by worldly, selfless MDs-to-be, I remember wondering how I was ever going to measure up as a Christian or simply someone who wanted to make a difference. My life certainly wasn’t going to be all that conducive to crossing borders to heal the physically, emotionally and spiritually sick. I honestly felt like I might be letting God down. My friends would be changing the world while I was hidden away wiping bums and snotty noses.
That was more than four years ago and to some degree, I know that part of my fear had to do with good, old-fashioned pride: I wasn’t so sure about serving without all the kudos. I wanted to do big things in my life, things that got people’s attention. Yet, a mom’s work isn’t always easy to recognize, and the fruit of our work can take a long time to ripen. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
I’m honored to have someone like Lili serve as my daughter’s godmother; she is living the Gospel, healing the sick, bringing God’s love to the far corners of the world. We pray for her and her work often. She is doing great things with her life (and I suspect many of those women from that old Bible study group are, too).
Yet, I’m doing great things, too. I’ve realized as someone whose only mission work right now is confined to our home that God does not purpose everyone to be doctors, teachers, or to go overseas and tend to the poor. God gives us unique gifts and callings, and it’s only when we don’t use those gifts or aren’t open to His will that we need to consider that maybe we’re not doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing.
God put a strong desire in my heart to be a mom and a teacher to my children. I dreamed of fulfilling this vocation about one year before I started dating my husband. Then He gave me an amazing husband and a happy marriage that has allowed me to fulfill this desire He planted inside of me. God put a passion in my heart for my kids before I’d ever even conceived them. He wants me to be a mom. I haven’t let Him down by answering the call to motherhood.
Moms are servants, extensions of Christ’s love just like my friend Lili. We are called to bring the spiritual and corporal works of mercy to life every day. We instruct the ignorant. We counsel the doubtful. We comfort the sorrowful. We bear wrongs patiently. We forgive injuries. We feed the hungry. We give drink to the thirsty. We clothe the naked.
We are also creating and educating souls for eternity. We’re called to teach our children how to live Christ’s love – to be good, caring people.
As wives and moms, God has dispatched us to our homes, and we’ve been given a very important assignment; it just doesn’t require us to travel to far off places. Our mission field is in our children’s souls and in the heart of our home. When I look at my lifework that light, I can see that moms are missionaries in the truest form.