I guess because it was so early, I found myself alongside the working bunch, those who probably stop there every day before the morning commute. Everyone seemed to know each other's names, and were asking one another and the baristas about what the prior weekend held.
Something was distracting me, though. A really strong, but lovely, smell. Not the coffee, I realized. It was the perfume of the woman standing in front of me. It filled the room. It made me take notice of her.
She was really beautiful. Dressed in very chic but work appropriate attire, her curled blonde hair was perfect and motionless, and her high heels looked special. She wore a feminine, fitted white blazer, nipped in at the waist, and matching skirt, all trimmed in black. Her flawless makeup alone looked like a thirty minute project. She was quite a fancy sight, and I noticed she looked about my same age.
I was suddenly aware that what I'd chosen to wear today, what I'd thought earlier that morning looked somewhat cute, instead looked faded and shabby. Both the top and skirt I was wearing were bought second-hand, and if you looked closely, were pilling. My Target sandals were about to see their third summer and the polish was chipped off one of my toes. All I'd managed to get on my face was a little concealer to hide my dark circles and some blush, since I have that post-winter pale look going.
She and I crossed arms reaching for sugar, cream and cinnamon. She doctored her coffee just like I did mine. And as I headed back out to my car, lots of thoughts began to rush through my head.
I first remembered what it was like to have an income before I had kids. And the free time! How freely I shopped and spent time on my appearance. I thought about how much I've given up to have children, and then to stay home with them full-time.
I wanted to be a little judgey, actually, of her. I wanted to hate her perfume and feel better about myself through the streaks of envy I felt by saying in my mind that my job as a mother was better. But I know it's not. The fact is that she could be perfectly in the center of God's will for her life. I have no idea what God may be doing in and through her.
But I do know what God has called me to do. Today, it was to back all this artwork with construction paper.
Ten years ago tomorrow, on my first-born's birthday, becoming a mother was my calling. Working and earning a living and wearing heels on a Wednesday morning were my things to lay down. You don't really realize it because the sacrifice is a slow fade. But now that I'm ten years in, now that I stand next to mid-thirties-fancy-working-lady side by side, I can see that it's a lot. The sacrifice is a lot. In fact, it's huge.
I thought about how both the fancy lady and I had Starbucks cups on our work spaces that morning. Just imagine how different our views were between sips.
It's huge because it's meant laying down my life for others. Particularly, two others. My two littles. It hasn't been that difficult to lay it down. I'd make the same choice over and over, if given the chance. But I'll never be able to grasp how huge it has been for them. Their lives will be evidence of how huge that laying down has been. And their stories have barely begun to be written.
So I guess what I'm saying is that laying down my life to stay home and raise my children can be summed up as a big leap of faith. A leap I have to make every day. I'm having faith that all the work, the laying down, the intentionality, the love, the tears....that all of it gets rolled up in God's economy and formed into something really beautiful: well-raised children.
And because I am a hot mess on some days, a selfish, fleshy, annoyed mess, grace is what I'm counting on to be in the mix. My daily prayer is that all my offering gets rolled up with grace. Lots of Jesus-filled grace.
Grace blesses my sacrifice, fades the mess, and brightens Jesus in my kids' lives.
I'll take that over fancy any day.