Our sermon this morning was on Matthew 8:18-22, which profiles two potential disciples of Jesus--the over-eager disciple who was carried along by the emotion of the moment but didn't really understand what he was committing to ("I'll go anywhere with you, teacher!"), and the reluctant follower who wanted to bury his father first (in that culture, a delay of at least several months, or possibly even years). It gave me a lot of food for thought as I think of my life and this parenting adventure.
Sometimes I want to jump in with both feet. I think of years when I've said yes to way too many activities. When everyone else is talking about how their kids are doing music lessons and sports and church activities and some wonderful brain-enriching activity, I wonder if I'm doing enough. What if my child is embarrassed in gym class because I didn't give her enough sports exposure when she was 5? What if so-and-so's child edges out my child in her quest to go to the highest-caliber university just because she signed her up for Spanish classes that I couldn't afford?
It sounds silly when I put it that way, doesn't it?
And then on the other end of the spectrum, sometimes I'm reluctant to commit. I figure there will always be next year, and I'm afraid of getting too busy. When my last child is out of preschool, then I'll serve in children's ministries because I won't have a baby who gets sick for weeks on end in the winter. There's a certain logic there, but do I sometimes miss out on an opportunity God has for me because I want to be in control, rather than trusting Him to provide for my needs?
We're at that time of the year when we make our final decisions about where our time will be spent in the coming months. We've laid out our calendar and put in all the dates for the first-tier of things we always do (for us, that's music lessons and church activities). And now it's time to decide about the second-tier: the things we sign up for once or twice and then don't do again.
The two middle girls want to take dance lessons at the park district. I'm trying to decide whether to push the oldest to do school activities or let her opt out. And then the two littles--I want to give them the opportunities I gave the older kids.
As I mull over all these good options, I'm going to try to avoid the two extremes--the over-eager disciple and the reluctant disciple--and find the middle ground. Somewhere between harried, grumpy mother pulling her hair out as she tries to do it all and the mother whose mission field has shrunk to include only her little family, ignoring the big picture of the needs of the world and how I and my children might meet those needs. What does God have for me this year? For my kids? I don't think I'll ever get the balance quite right, but I am praying that God will guide me as I make all these choices for the coming year.