On the Side - June 2017
My Worthy Pursuit
by Shelly Wyrick
Today is Tuesday Laundry Day. We are a family of six, making Tuesday a long day. There was a time when Laundry Day was on Sunday and my husband and I, both in school, took time away from our studies to do the two loads together. But not today. Today he will go out and save people’s lives, literally. He might pause at lunch to meet with his fellow clinical faculty, to discuss the new medical school in our community. He may get off early to volunteer at the local homeless shelter. Or perhaps he’ll be a little late, having dinner with the CMDA students before he comes home to me. And my 10 loads on laundry. Maybe not 10…but close.
He’s deeply successful, both inside and out. Me myself? I hold a master’s degree in physical therapy. I had an amazing job. I worked for an employer that encouraged my growth and not only entertained my new ideas but implemented them. I was going somewhere.
When we had our first child, we made the decision that I would stay home and raise kids. I’m not sure how I thought this would go when I was working. I think I didn’t think about it. I assumed I would have children, but I never considered how that would change my career. I was not someone who grew up with the end-all goal of raising a family. I thought about being lots of things from a rock-and-roll star to a rocket scientist, but I never considered how my marriage and kids would align with those ideas. I now realize little girls who dream of being a wife and mom have a massive head start in their heart. Just sayin'.
Hear me out: I love being a wife and mom. It, understandably, took some time for me to realize this work is no less respectable than my work was as a physical therapist. This work is no less respectable than the work of the career-minded women around me. My work is no less respectable than my husband’s. I married a gifted man. You did too.
I am in the middle of reading Maria Goff’s new book Love Lives Here. In it, she talks about how she made raising a family her life’s ambition. “Raising a family can literally change the earth…It’s not a ‘second-best’ thing to do, anymore than it is pursuing a big and beautiful career.”
I have chosen to put everything I have in to raising a family. I have taken my eyes off my old career goals as I work toward this also-worthy goal. I’m not saying you should do the same, I’m saying whatever it is you choose to do, do it with all your heart (Colossians 3:23). Be all-in. It’s okay to lay aside an old goal, maybe temporarily, maybe permanently. I’ve found it feels really good to focus on one thing and not feel second-fiddle about it.
This pursuit is worthy of my effort. I don’t need the applause of the world. Not the palpable satisfaction of a career. I just need God’s mind-blowing grace. I hear the faint words of my old friend Brother Lawrence reminding me it’s not the size of the task, it’s the love you pour into it that counts. Suddenly the small task becomes big. It’s not always what you do outwardly, but how you do it inwardly that matters.
There have been times I’ve wondered if I could do my husband’s work. If God called me to, I know I could. But He hasn’t, and I’ve found a calm delight in choosing the path I’m on. I’ve learned to take my eyes off my husband’s target. My goal is to do my work in a way here at home that allows him to do his out there. It’s not a competition; it’s incredible symbiotic unity.
There have been times I’ve wondered if I could do both, career and motherhood. I know women who do, including two sisters who accomplish both every day. Instead of compare, I now just look at their lives like I watch Usain Bolt. When I go out for a jog, I don’t come home upset that I did not run like Usain. I’m okay with not being him. I don’t understand how he does it, but I’m still really happy about my jog. So if you’re working and raising a family, don’t be offended. You go Usain Bolt it.
On a moment-to-moment basis, each task here at home may be taken as small. I hear my youngest fussing and I will now go change a diaper. Not hard. Yet, somehow the small has become noble, a challenge…invigorating…exciting because as competitive as I am, I want to be the best at this glorifying-God-in-the-small-stuff thing. This is difficult. Difficult is enticing as it lures me into the opportunity to love God deeper, to serve Him humbly in this role, to feel challenged. Successful. Praise Him. Take today’s work—even the laundry—and embrace it wildly. Thank you, Jesus, for the opportunity. Whatever your ambition, from big career to stay-at-home mom, pursue it. Be all-in.
Shelly is a physical therapist turned play-at-home-mom of four kids. Shelly adores her old-fashioned manly-man of a husband, coffee and Jesus. She also enjoys writing, jogging and being out of doors with her family.