Imagine my shock to discover the post I thought had published last week mysteriously disappeared instead--and I didn't catch it. Mea culpa, my friends. Hope you like this slightly revised reprint from November 8, 2008. Thank you for reading my blog!
"Did you ever study Ecclesiastes? So much of it seems written just for me."
I smiled at my friend. Her random question immediately transported me back to a weekend when our girls were growing up and I was drowning in child-rearing. That's when a few verses from Ecclesiastes became my life-line.
By any standard, our life was good. My husband and I dearly loved each other. No big problems, good health, four great kids. Any fool would be thankful, but right then, not this one.
I yearned for ... something, but I wasn't sure what.
One morning a newspaper announcement of a women's workshop called my name. "Wish I could go," I told my husband over lunch. "It's only an hour's drive from here and I'd love to have a break. But it starts tonight."
Then that terrific man I married (who wanted his wife back) surprised me, as he often does. "Go! The girls and I will be fine."
I hugged him and right away called the number listed. Yes, they had space. Hallelujah! I dressed and packed in a frenzy of anticipation. I only knew the speakers would be Christian women from a neighboring state.
Was I naive? Yes. Desperate for a breather? Yes!
A few hours later I waved goodbye to those beautiful ties that bound me with love. I drove off with a smile, giddy at the prospect of nobody calling, "Mommy!" for forty-eight hours.
At the hotel I walked into a large room full of women I did not know. Being anonymous suited me just fine. I just wanted to be in a safe, quiet place and maybe pick up something useful.
The conference theme was Ecclesiastes and five minutes into the first speaker's talk, I knew why I was there. That conviction deepened as the evening went on.
Getting to the root of my discontent
For months I had been reading and hearing the same points everywhere I turned. I owed it to myself to "accomplish" something, so I could be fulfilled, they said.
Just being a wife and mother could never satisfy my deepest needs, they said, only waste my potential for greatness.
Certainly I should not be under the "domination" of the sweet, quiet man who loved me, they told me.
I hadn't consciously bought into these theories, yet they lodged insidiously within my mind and heart. Little by little, they painted my thinking in a wash of dull gray.
Learning from Solomon
This theme verse leaped out at me, especially because of the mindset I walked in with:
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind ... --Ecclesiastes 2:11
We focused on Chapter Two, where Solomon relates his goals and dreams, his great success and wealth, and the emptiness he felt. Our speaker asked a rhetorical question: Had we noticed anything like that around us?
Solomon's phrase drummed in my mind: "chasing after the wind."
We looked at life, marriage and the joy of piling up years together.
Leaders also delved into how every day moms--and dads--help shape the next generation, planting faith and values that carry over. That presses lasting meaning and significance into every twenty-four hours.
Truth gently smacked me and woke me up, then moved in to stay. My life mattered, just as it was.
Everything from mopping up spills to mashing potatoes formed a tiny part of the mosaic of our family. Each day counted for more than I could guess.
Was this news to me? No. But thinking through those verses in Ecclesiastes replenished my spirit and reminded me what I already believed.
No longer would I look "out there" to set my standards and gauge my "fulfillment" by someone else's measuring stick. I drove home singing--and praying, impatient to hug my husband and daughters.
Nothing changed about my life but me ... and that changed everything.
Here's wishing you clear thinking and a fresh charge of joy every day as you journey on!
Ever had one of these "a-ha moments?" Your comments welcomed!