To My Teenage Son

A baker’s dozen. One more than 12. 6 + 7.

Thirteen used to sound like any other number to me. Until recently. My oldest son turns thirteen in five days, and I swear I was just thirteen weeks pregnant with him.

More than I have been preparing for a COVID-friendly celebration for him, I have been preparing my heart for what feels like a huge milestone in his life. When he turned twelve last year, I realized that, assuming he took the college route, we were already two-thirds done with his years in our home. But this year, my heart has been even more ponderous approaching my son’s next trip around the sun.

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As I was reading David Brooks’s The Second Mountain, specifically the sections on calling, a few lines burrowed into my soul.

“There comes a time in many careers when people face a choice between helping a small number of people a lot of helping a large number of people a little.”

“Emerson underlies one of the key elements of the commitment decision. At the beginning it involves choice – choosing this or that vocation. But  99.9 percent of the time it means choosing what one already chosen….It’s saying yes to the thing you’ve already said yes to.”

When I was processing what we could purchase to make our son’s upcoming birthday feel set apart and special, I was struggling. I ended up sitting up all night and wrestling with the Lord. You see, for the past few years, my mind and heart have been rightly preoccupied with my responsibilities as a women’s ministry director. I love my job. I love what I do. I feel I was born to do it (it helps that I get paid well to do what I would want to do anyway!). Yet, I sensed the Lord asking me to give my child a very costly gift for his thirteenth birthday: more of my focused time, space, and attention.

As I have continued to wrestle with this costly gift, the Lord has been so good to remind me that He always gets my yes. When Mother Theresa felt called as a young girl to become a nun, she nervously told her mother who loved her and depended upon her care. She had no need to be nervous, for she knew that her mother could never say no to Jesus. That line grabbed my gaze and has become a prayer of mine ever since. I want to never say no to Jesus. Even when His call feels uncomfortable, unnatural, or illogical.

While Jesus gets my first yes, my husband and children get my next yeses. I said yes to my husband on a crisp April night (on April Fool’s Day…not advisable, by the way). But I keep saying quiet yeses to him and our marriage. God made me a mother early in my marriage, when I was a hair past 24. Motherhood has not always been an easy yes, but it has been one of my very best yeses.  Saying yes to the brood of boys the Lord has given us has meant a navy of no’s.

Don’t get me wrong. I am no martyr. I know I have a self to steward. I have grown in my capacity to say yes to things that are in my gift set and even to some that are well outside of it. But those other yeses always follow behind my guiding yeses to Jesus, to my husband, and to our boys. Prayerfully, there will be decades to come where I can say some of the yeses that I have had to decline (sometimes with a good attitude,  though often with a poor one). I want to run another marathon, though I barely walk the dog these days. I want to disciple more women, though these days my life is full of boys. But right now, my fellas need my yeses. The days are flying by, and there is much work to be done, laughter to be had, tears to be shed, and prayers to be prayed.

You are my Yeses

My guiding yeses are decided
Before a question is asked.
My soul is already crowded
With roles I’ve been tasked.

There are myriad mantles
Sold and offered in this life
My most noble mantles are
Daughter, mother, and wife.

As your worlds grow larger,
I’m fighting to change pace.
Your needs, though less noisy,
Can be heard with ample space.

I cannot say no to Jesus,
He gets my yes and amen.
He determines my calling:
Who, what, where, and when.

 

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