On learning again that all we need is eyes to see what matters most

"Did you ever ... ?"

Those three words can trigger a flood of memories, can't they?

Blog. Ecclesiastes mom. 2.16Like the time a friend asked, "Did you ever read the book of Ecclesiastes?" Out of nowhere popped up the memory of a weekend when a few Bible verses became my lifeline. 

I needed one. For no reason I could figure out, I felt I was drowning in motherhood and in danger of losing who I was forever. 

Don't get me wrong. Our life was good. My husband and I loved each other dearly. No big problems, good health, four great kids. Any fool would be thankful. 

Wouldn't they? Shouldn't they?

Still, I yearned for something, because I was tired of feeling moody and unsettled. 

All I knew for certain was I wanted to get back my usual sense of peace and well-being.  

One Friday I read a tiny newspaper announcement about a weekend workshop for women

Over lunch I told my husband, "Wish I could go. It's only an hour's drive from here, but it starts tonight." (Cue in big sigh.)

Then that terrific man I married (who wanted his happy wife back) surprised me. "Of course you should go! The girls and I will be just 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 knew only that the speakers would be Christian women from a neighboring state. A few hours later I waved and blew kisses and drove away feeling giddy at the prospect of 48 hours with nobody yelling, "Mommy!"  

When I checked into the hotel I found my room and for a little while, I just basked in the quiet.  

Then I walked into a ballroom full of women I didn't know. I didn't mind because it suited me just fine to be anonymous. All I wanted was time for me and perhaps to pick up some useful tips for living.

Handouts told me the conference theme was Ecclesiastes--which I confess, I didn't know much about.

Five minutes into the first speaker's talk, I knew why I was there.  

Identifying the root of my discontent

As I listened to the speakers and read the verses I began to understand my blue mood. During the previous few months I had watched and listened to a lot of "experts" and talking heads, all enthusiastically promoting almost identical themes. Magazine articles trotted out "reinforcements" for what sounded in those day like startling findings: 

  • I owed it to myself to "accomplish" something so I could be fulfilled.
  • Just being a wife and mother could never satisfy my deepest needs, only waste my potential for greatness.
  • Any woman who allowed a man to "dominate" her or influence her decisions was a fool--even if she thought herself blessed to be married to a good, sweet man who loved her, as I was. 

Even though I had not consciously bought into these "new" theories, that weekend I knew they had lodged insidiously within my mind and heart.

Little by little, the repetition from all sides painted my thinking in a wash of dull gray.

Learning from Solomon

Without quite being aware of it I brought that mindset to the conference. No wonder this theme verse leaped out at me: 

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  NIV

That first night we focused on Chapter Two, where Solomon relates his goals and dreams and also his great wealth and achievements. Yet all he felt was emptiness.

Our speaker asked us: Had we ever felt empty and as if our lives were pointless? Women all over the ballroom nodded in agreement.

I thought of all the voices telling me to look out for No. 1 and I heard Solomon's phrase drum in my mind: "chasing after the wind."

Next day's workshops looked at life, marriage and the joy of growing a family

Our leader stressed the great privilege God bestows when he entrusts us with a child.

It matters not whether we become birth parents or step-parents or whether we adopt a child. It's even true when we are rearing children in place of someone else. 

Every day moms (and dads) help shape the next generation. Every day we plant faith and values that will carry over into the lives of our children and through them, into our grandchildren and stretching into the future. 

What's more, our children are watching and listening in as we adults live our lives, picking up clues on how to do it. Like good detectives they pay as much--and maybe more--attention to our actions as they do to our words.  

That packs every minute of every day with lasting meaning and significance.

During that brief workshop the truth of that statement gently smacked me on the head and got my attention, then moved in to stay. I saw it clearly. My life had purpose and meaning, just as it was. I already lived a life that mattered.

Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing the wind.   Ecclesiastes 4:6  NIV

Simple words, yet they reminded me who I was--and who I wanted to be   

That weekend I got my right attitude back. I saw clearly the contrast between empty theories and Truth that stands the test of time. My heart danced as I thought how blessed I was to have a strong marriage and healthy children.  

I cherish the memory of that weekend when God spoke to me through the speakers and through Ecclesiastes. He replenished my spirit and got me back on track. He gave me eyes to see. 

He has made everything beautiful in its time ... I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all [their] toil--this is God's gift to [mankind.]   Ecclesiastes 3:11a; 12-13  ESV

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. After that weekend nothing changed about my life but me.

And that changed everything.

Praying you may see the value of what you do every day!


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