Three Ways To Recognize You’ve Gone Off Course

Not shame inducing, but appropriately weighty like the harness of a roller coaster; keeping me safe. Re-focusing me on the track ahead.

The question arose, “What race am I running?”

Stiff and sturdy, oak-stained pews held my weight, and the pastor held my attention as he pointed me to Hebrews 12. Warmth and rustling confirmed I wasn’t alone, but I could’ve easily been convinced otherwise. I sat, listening, as a call to run the race marked out for me with perseverance landed heavy on my chest.

Running that stay-at-home-mom race is no joke. It’s easy to get lost in all of the seemingly menial, clearly redundant tasks. I’ve lost a lot of things to this day-to-day track meet: my normal purse, my socks–so many socks, how does that even happen?– my body, my dignity, my pride, my filter, my sleep, correspondingly my ability to think rationally about anything, my identity. I venture to guess this list could continue for longer than I’d like to admit.
But as the words of Hebrews began to sink in, I started thinking about just how lost I really was…

I think it began as a way to distract from the increasingly hard days of parenting. I wanted to know I was still valuable apart from being “mom.”
Somewhere amid child birthing and butt wiping, I started chasing dreams of instant gratification, self-glorification, and fleeting purpose…ones of worldly focus and worldly gains.

This manifested in different ways, but the main way I saw this happen was through my photography business. What had once been such a wonderful outlet from the weight of parenting had started to become the top priority. It wasn’t deliberate, but slowly, over time, my race changed. Without even realizing it, my goals went from that creative outlet, to wanting to become a celebrated and sought-after photographer.

You guys, when I put my mind to something, I get TUNNEL VISION. I’m focused, driven, determined. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. But it’s easy to lose sight of what I really want in the devout pursuit of a goal I’ve set. This time it was a goal I didn’t even realize I had set until I was drowning in it.

I had also let myself fall prey to comparison. I started seeing all of the photographers who did it better. The ones with more clients, nicer websites, perfectly polished social media feeds.

Feelings of inadequacy settled in.

To combat these feelings, I started focusing on branding. Okay- obsessing over branding. I spent hours building a new website and plotting instagram strategies. I was unintentionally, but actively, trying to grow a business. And in doing so, I was becoming increasingly irritated with anything distracting me from it.

I started getting angry at the dishes. My blood boiled at the thought of the perpetually filling sink. I grumbled when another water cup or tummy needed to be refilled. How many times a day do you tiny humans really need to eat? Don’t get me started on the laundry. I just ignored that nuisance until my husband didn’t have any underwear and decided to take on the beast himself.

I was tired, worn down, and more closely resembled a snapping turtle than a loving wife and mother. I couldn’t understand why I was so stressed out. Even more, the guilt was oppressive.

But then, there I was, in a well-worn chapel, the setting sun flooding through the windows- a spotlight on my heart as Hebrews 12 asked, “What race are you running?”

The verses say,

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Sin had easily entangled! I was looking to success in my business to define me. My eyes weren’t on Jesus, they were on me.

It was then, when I tried to satisfy my insecurities by my own means, that I got off course.

If the race I’m running is about me trying to prove myself, the good things God has given me become obstacles.

When I make my life goals about my glory, the tasks God has blessed me with as a wife, mother, and even housekeeper become baggage holding me back. I see them as distractions keeping me from running my race instead of mile markers, integral parts of the course God has set before me. They are no longer a calling, but a hindrance. Even though my responsibilities can appear void of value, they are an irreplaceable part of the humble path God is using to transform me and the world around me.

The simple work of the everyday becomes life-sucking, tedious, and daunting instead of what God intended of them to be: life-giving, holy responsibilities changing me for good.

If I’m being real I’d tell you, I don’t want to do most of the daily things my life entails! I want to do something bigger and more meaningful with my life than a few measly dishes. On some level, spending hours working outside the home sounded significantly more appealing than my to-do list in the home. I think that’s why it was so easy for me to distract myself with it.

When I take a step back and allow Hebrews 12 to refocus me on the track ahead, I wonder if “something bigger” looks smaller than I expected. But nonetheless, powerful. The “more meaningful” can happen even in these tiny, seemingly insignificant tasks of motherhood.

I don’t think I’m the only one who’s ever lost sight of what they really want in life so I want to share three ways I can recognize when I need course adjustment. Hold tight, we’re about to get reallll practical. I hope you’re here for this.

1. Read God’s word. Yes, this may sound like basic potatoes, but hear me out: it’s alive and active. What other piece of literature in all of history are you going to read that’s ALIVE and ACTIVE? God’s word has the ability to bring our attention to things we would never have noticed on our own. Who has played Mario Kart Racing, (every kid who grew up in the 90s better be nodding their heads)? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. For me, God’s word was the little guy holding a sign that says ”reverse” to let me know I was off course.

2. Check your mental state. If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, ashamed, and guilty, those are good indicators that something is amiss. It can be tempting to ignore these feelings, but take some time to dig a little deeper. Maybe it’s just lack of sleep or the fussy baby, but it’s worth paying attention to and making some self-care time a priority!

3. Revisit your priority list. Reach for the nearest writing tool and paper. We aren’t going for Pinterest worthy, just grab a napkin. Now, sit down and think through your schedule. List out your regular commitments. Set this list aside. Next, take a minute to think about your values- the things you actually want prioritized. List your top five. What’s important to you? What do you want your life to be about? Visualization is key in this so take a minute to compare your lists. This should be an easy way to tell if you’ve gone astray.