September 23, 2010

Stages

I have suddenly found myself in a new stage of life. My oldest is in second grade, my middle son is in preschool five mornings a week, and my youngest is in preschool two mornings a week, which leaves me six hours of time each week to do with as I please. I can go to the bathroom without spectators. I can have a cup of coffee while sitting down. I can run errands without pushing around a cart full of kids. In fact, as I write, I'm sitting in an empty, quiet house. It's the strangest thing.

It's also the strangest thing how quickly we've moved into this season of life. In all honesty, I have dreamed of having these six free hours for many years. Mothers of older children always said how fast the time goes, but I didn't believe them. It's hard to believe them when you spend your days giving of yourself until you fall into bed exhausted. Yet, here I am. And so quickly.

It's different than I thought it would be. In all those years of looking forward to my children growing more independent and having some free time for myself, I didn't take into account that I do not own my time. I always thought that all my work and sacrifice in the baby years meant that I would "earn" and "deserve" some time to do what I wanted when my children were a little older.

As the start of preschool loomed and I began planning what I'd use my six hours for, my heart was so unsettled. After weeks of this, I talked to the Lord about it because I've found that, for me, unsettled usually means there is sin in my life. Sure enough, He quietly impressed on my heart: Have you asked me about what I'd like you to use this time for? 

In the end, His ideas and my ideas for my six hours weren't all that different. It was just the heart behind it. Is it my time? Or is it His time? I am reminded that at each transition and each new stage in my life, I must evaluate if what I'm doing is for myself or for the Lord. Am I willing to surrender what I've "earned"? Am I willing to accept the time as a gift and not feel guilty about enjoying it? Am I willing to continue to serve and give?

Or was that just a stage?