And give you a glimpse into my transparent heart this morning.
Youth ministry is my passion outside of being a mommy. I felt called into ministry long before I put on my mommy shoes and it is a passion that I proudly pursue as a part-time Minister to Youth in our rural Virginia community. This weekend, I had the privilege of taking six of my teenagers from the church to a retreat weekend, joining 600 other junior high students from around the state. Hmmmm when you put it like that, it makes you wonder if I'm just a glutton for punishment!! :)
I'm joking, I never feel punished in that environment, in fact I feel like that kind of chaos is just as much a part of who I am as the kid chaos that I live with on a daily basis. Apparently, chaos truly IS my normal.
This weekend like every other youth event or activity, meant that I would be absent from my children. Which also means that someone else has to pick up the slack. In this case, Michael stayed home along with my sister-in-law (her own spotlight blog will make an appearance in the near future). But both had to work on Saturday which meant the burden of Gaffner baby-sitting would fall on some poor unprepared and gentle soul. Unfortunately the plans that were made fell apart at the last minute, which sometimes happens. In fact, I would say in my experience, it happens more often than not. What's the quote "the best laid plans of man"... yeh, mine always fail. And I don't mean that in a "poor me" kind of way, but it's just fact. We cannot account for the changes our plans may have to endure, no matter the time and preperation. Plans falling apart are no one's fault, just a fact of life.
But for me, it's just a further testament to the constant state of tug of war I feel between my job and my family. With four kids, it is never easy to find someone that can "babysit" for any period of time. It's a lot to ask and I always feel like I should not be asking in the first place because aren't my kids, my own responsibility?
My job in particular does not require a lot of time away from my kids, in fact, it's the perfect job for me in my current life situation. Most days I spend with my boys at home. I work from the house, studying during naptimes, emailing during cartoon watching, and planning when I get free moments. The times spent in the office are most often accompanied by Dean and Christopher, who also make various appearances around town at meetings during the week. My youth minister colleagues are graciously understanding and accepting of my traveling posse. However, youth ministry thrives on activites, retreats, and Bible studies which require that I take time away from the Gaffner four.
No matter the time that I do spend with my kids and the time that I do spend working, I always feel caught in the middle. Honestly, it's a ministry versus family tug of war game, with me as the rope.
This weekend my good friend Ed put it best. He said sometimes for every "yes" we give to ministry it's a "no" we are giving to our families and vice versa. I am sure that most people would agree that the same could be said for their situation as well.
Is my complaining justified?
Sure, it's tough.
Is my complaining futile?
Yes, because we all know that I cannot give up either job.
Being a mommy is my greatest responsibility and joy.
Being a youth minister is a part of my spiritual DNA (if there were such a thing).
Trying to seperate the two is like trying to cut this crazy lady in half.
So what's a girl to do???
Caught in the middle of two great commitments, two great blessings, two great frustrations.
I guess she rejoices in the truth that in her weakness, God is stronger. God is bigger. God is capable of juggling the two. Maybe I should spend less time playing tug of war, and more time laying both jobs at the feet of a God who is the all-time greatest Chaos Manager. :)
Good food for thought.
and PS. I love all the Gaffner "babysitters" and understand that sometimes things don't work out but you are ALL so greatly appreciated. (even more appreciated are the chocolate chip pancakes, trips to Halloween parties, high fives, and hugs)