When did my life turn into leaving the house without looking decent, spending the weekends at home, and saving coupons just for diapers? Baths lasting longer than 10 minutes are a luxury. Getting to watch movies at night and not worrying about how much time I’m cutting off of sleep is a rarity. When did I get to the point that Saturday is considered “park day” and Sunday’s deemed “laundry day”? When’s the last time I’ve gotten in the car and driven to a random place just because? When’s the last time I spent time with the girls? I’m a single, 21 year old mother. Is this what the rest of my life will consist of – stinky diaper changes, spending my whole paycheck on food and clothes for my son, and devoting every second of the day to him?
It’s tough being a single mother. The thoughts women face as a single is hard enough. Add a child to the mix and those thoughts turn into volcanic emotions that we may impulsively act upon at times. Can you imagine being a selfish teenager without any responsibilities, then overnight becoming a parent and being forced to grow up? That was me. Before Isaac came into the picture, every choice I made was for me. I was probably the most selfish and conceited person to walk the earth. After Isaac came into my life, my world was rocked. I no longer could think about me; instead, every thought and decision made was for him. It took me a while after his birth, but I finally started realizing that every choice I made directly affected Isaac and it was time to grow up.
But what does it mean to grow up? For a period of time, growing up to me meant forgetting about my dreams and desires, and fully devoting all time and energy towards my son. I mainly felt that way because that’s what was shown to me as a child. My parents always gave their all for their children. They never once lacked in the area of love and devotion. They counseled us when we needed advice, carried us when our hearts were broken, and stayed home from work when we were sick just because they wanted to make sure we were comfortable while getting better. In my mind, because they were devoting so much time to us, I figured they didn’t take time for themselves. In actuality, my parents never stopped following their God-given dreams.
The one problem with my idea of growing up was that I completely cut myself – and ultimately God – out of the equation. Instead of pursuing God’s plan for my life, I started pursuing a life of devotion to Isaac. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving your time to your children. I believe God specifically picks people to become parents because He wants us to spend time with our kids and show the love of Christ to them. However, there’s a fine line between devoting your time to your kids and devoting your life to them. What happens when they move out the house? A life devoted to your kids will leave you feeling empty and wondering “what now?” after your kids leave.
Nothing should ever keep you from pursuing God’s purpose for your life. Let me repeat. Absolutely nothing should stop you from following Christ and doing what He wants you to do. If we were to list priorities, I believe God should be first ahead of our children. You may be wondering why. It’s easy.
A life without Christ as our first priority is a life without direction. If we don’t make Jesus the center of our lives, then I fully believe we’ll be at a complete loss at how to raise our children. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If we don’t make Christ first in our lives, then where will we gain that strength when our children make us angry, disobey us, or need direction themselves?
A life without Christ as our first priority is a life without purpose. A life without purpose is a life not worth living. If we as parents have no purpose, then that’s the idea we’ll be relaying to our kids. What kids see is what kids do. Do we want our kids to feel hopeless and worthless because they see us without purpose?
A life without Christ as our first priority is a life without peace. A life without peace is a life without stability. Anyone with children knows that kids absolutely need stability in their lives. I remember when I didn’t know God. I swayed here and there and everywhere. I was tossed like a leaf in the wind. I was searching for answers in all the wrong places. Every day I woke up anxious and uneasy about the day because I knew there was more to life, but I didn’t know what. I was constantly changing what I wanted to do with my life. I had no peace because I didn’t know Christ’s plan for me. My life was much like Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I could have searched forever, but I would have never found direction, purpose, or peace if I didn’t give in to Christ.
I remember like it was yesterday the day that I dropped out of college. I had plans of pursuing my dream of starting an organization for abused women. So many people were glad to stand behind me and give much needed support and encouragement. I was even partnering with a dear friend that knew the logistics about running nonprofits. Then two weeks after leaving LSU – bam! – I found out I was pregnant. That’s when my world started tumbling down. People that were going to support the organization started questioning my motives. They had preconceived notions that I left school not to start an organization, but solely because I was pregnant. I honestly don’t blame them. I was so wishy-washy in my walk with Christ at the time, I didn’t know the difference between my right and left.
It’s been a very long two years since then. It was a process for me to refocus my life back towards Christ – and I still struggle – but there’s no doubt in my mind that God is my number one priority. Two years ago when I felt in my heart that I should leave school, I thought I was going to pursue a dream that was God-given. In actuality, it was just a “Taylor dream”. However, God used all of what happened at that time to bring me back to Him. In the process, my relationship with my parents was mended, I learned the importance of trust, and I gained the sweetest gift of all – a child.
It’s taken me this long to realize God has a purpose for my life. By putting my child first, I placed him above everything else in my life, including God. I lost direction and a sense of peace. I felt myself start to sway like a leaf again. The moment I decided to put Christ first is the moment I gave up doing things out of my own strength, and started doing things through God’s strength.
So, to answer my question . . . Yes, changing stinky diapers, spending money on Isaac, and devoting time to him will be what I do with my life. But it won’t be the only thing. God has a plan for my life, just like He has one for you. As long as we place Him first, we’ll have direction on what road to take to reach God’s plan. We’ll know what to do when our children go through their teenage years. We’ll know the words to speak when our kids need wisdom. We’ll have strength to face each day that our kids are running from God. We’ll have peace in the midst of our chaotic days.
But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”