In 1989, I left my job to stay at home with my infant daughter. I never returned to work outside the home. While I have never regretted my decision, there were times over the years when I wished I was in someone else's shoes. At the very least, I wished I was in someone else's season of life.
The couple whose kids were now full grown seemed to have things much better. I would look back with nostalgia how toddlers were easier than teenagers. In the midst of what felt like the same cold recycled among the entire family over and over again, I looked back with longing at those first few years of married life when I could sleep when I didn't feel well. Even recently, I have had times when I look at friends whose children are marrying and having babies, and I wonder when that is going to happen for me. It's so easy to think that everyone else's situation is better than our own. We second guess our decisions, and begin to compare, and that's a bad road to go down.
Last week, I was away at school every day from 9:00-4:00. It takes more than an hour to get there unless there are traffic issues, which there were. I left here around 7:20 every morning, and was home by 5:30 every evening, except for Friday, when we were finished early. My husband was home all week, taking a week off to do some spring projects he had lined up, and he was very considerate to have cleaned up the kitchen before my arrival. However, I was still away all day, and the usual care and attention to the house, meals, and other domestic matters was simply not there. There was much to catch up on after such a long week which happened to be followed by a very busy weekend. On Sunday morning when I got up, I thought to myself that I was very happy that I never had to be away from home like that when the kids were all at home. On those occasions when I thought other women had it better when they had jobs outside their homes, I was not remembering the flip side. Time and time again since I began attending seminary, I have seen the wisdom of God for keeping this time of my life until this particular point in time. I would have been terrible at juggling motherhood and a career or motherhood and school. When we are prevented from doing something we want, our first reaction is to think that we are being held back when in reality, God is showing his mercy and love toward us.
It's easy for another woman to look at my life, with an empty house all day and time to do what I want, and think her own circumstances are lacking. Yes, I have time, but in order to have this time, I have had to let my children go, and that has not been easy. Yes, I have more freedom, but it means not having my children close by, and I miss them. Those younger women may not know that every know and then I envy their little ones at home.
We women can be notorious for comparing ourselves to other women. We either fall short, which brings on discontent, or we feel a smug sense of pride for feeling superior. Either situation puts us at risk for sin. Wrong desires are a direct line to sin (James 1:13-15). Instead, we should love the season we're in, and understand that God's good is always the best thing for us. Sure, I look forward to a day when I'll get to hold a grandchild, or enjoy a wedding of my one of my children. But in the meantime, I need to focus on the season I'm in now, and see all the good that is in it. Sometimes, seasons of life are difficult, and we struggle to feel thankful for those times. I've been there, too. Maybe in the thick of things, we don't love the season we're in, but we can trust that God is good even though we don't feel good.
Wherever you are in your life, know that God is good (Psalm 145:9). He is good to all. There may be things you wish you could do, and you feel frustration because it seems like God is holding you back. If he is, there is a reason. Look at the good where you are right now. That may seem like a rather lame, trite word of advice, but there really is no benefit in allowing bitterness to creep in. God has a time for everything in our lives, and some day, you will probably see his wisdom in ordering things as he has done.