I have never been a huge fan of sugary things. Pie or cake? Nah. Chocolate? Meh. With the exception of gummi bears, I can pretty much take it or leave it. But I have learned that I can’t live without a certain kind of sweet.
One morning after I had spoken at a women’s event, a young woman came up to me at my CD table. She introduced herself and said she had a question for me after hearing my story.
“You seem so content that you never got to be a mom”, she said. And then asked “Are you content?”
I had to stop for a second and think. Was I indeed… content?
Here’s the thing: I had always wanted to be a mom. From as far back as I could remember I wanted it more than anything.
I had been a focused businesswoman up through my forties and hadn’t married until I was 41. And with a new husband 11 years my senior, it became clear to me that having a child together was not the right path for us. So although my dream of finding my lifelong partner was exceeded beyond my wildest dreams, the dream of ever having a child… died.
I’m not going to lie. Waiting all those years to find God’s man for me was tough but this… this was a bitter pill to swallow.
But 14 years ago, disguised as a personal crisis, God gave me a shot at a “do over”. Doggone it if He didn’t let me start my life all over again when He gave me the chance to get out of myself, grow up and grow deep with Him, and I grabbed it with gusto. He began maturing me in all areas of my life, showing me in spades that He had my back and wanted me to experience all that life had to offer. I dug deep into His Word to learn more what that meant and realized one day that I had given in, had completely accepted what He had for me, and had developed a desire to want what He wanted for my life.
It just didn’t appear that having a child was going to be one of those things.
But here’s the thing. Over time, I began to realize that accepting life on life’s terms left a sweet taste in my mouth… and besides, I learned there are a lot of other ways to be a real mom. Here are a few I’ve found:
When I married Wolf, an extraordinary stepdaughter came with the deal who I couldn’t love any more than if I’d given birth to her myself. (Mariah often jokes that it’s a darned good thing I didn’t because if I had, she might’ve gotten my thin hair!)
Wolf and I host young people in our home from all over the world who come here to study English. In the time they are with us, we are given entrance into their hearts and thoughts as we pour into them, striving to provide as full a cultural, family, and spiritual experience as possible. Some of the richest times we’ve had in the last few years have been with these kids and I wouldn’t trade the experience of being “Mama Sillye” for anything.
For 13 years, I’ve gotten to be a “co-mom” with moms all over the third world who are unable to take care of their children on their own. As a result of events at which I and my partner Billye have spoken, over 5,000 moms have fewer worries about their kids’ futures because American “moms” have sponsored their child*. The mother of a child I sponsor in Africa humbled me to my bones when she thanked me for helping her raise her children. Me??
Up until very recently, I had the honor of hosting a group of young women in my living room every Tuesday night for five years who still call me their “BFF spiritual mom”. Each week, I got to guide them through God’s Word where I wanted them to see how sweet their life could be if they could just develop a taste to want what He wants. We went through breakups, marriages, cancer, pregnancy, and job woes and they began to see that peace is possible, regardless of our circumstances.
You can’t tell me I haven’t been able to be a mom.
So when that young woman asked me that day if I was content, I had to be honest when I said I was not. But what I could tell her was that, in all honestly, I was in full agreement with God on His choice for my life. Today, I get it. Today I see why He withheld this “dream” of mine and I joyfully accept and embrace the extraordinary life He has given me in exchange.
When life turns out differently than the stuff of our dreams, we have a choice. We can get bitter, wasting months and years pining for what we didn’t get, or we can begin to recognize there are just simply things we won’t understand on this earth and accept what comes our way, relishing what we DO have.
And with that, taste the delectable calm that accompanies the sweetness of acceptance.
With all your heart trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. Proverbs 3:5-6 CEV
Sylvia Lange is a Christian women’s speaker living in Southern California.
I love Facebook. Blogs. Instagram. Twitter. All of it.
I look forward to seeing Tracey’s latest ocean adventure or chew on the profundity of Donald Miller or hear myself say “awww” each morning as I read Jen’s quotes posted to encourage all who stop by. I love Catherine‘s Biblical wisdom and Mackenzie’s scientific brilliant wit. I could swear I smelled the garlic as I read Brian‘s descriptive account of his and the fam’s adventures at their Tuscany cooking school and I was so happy to fete my sister when I saw she received award at work recognizing her accomplishments. My nephew’s adventures as he settles in to his first apartment in LA would very possibly have not made its way on to my radar if not for social media, and without it, I might not have known to pray for Allie in the early days of her cancer. And to miss my daily belly laugh, courtesy of Seth, or the hilarity that comes through Deanna’s or Junko‘s mommy musings … are you kidding me? Quelle horreur.
It’s like having my own pleasant little neighborhood coffee shop where everyone knows my name and where I can poke my head in when I have a minute to sip a cup of joe as I hear quick updates from folks I wouldn’t otherwise see. Call me Pollyanna, but it often feels like my own little Mayberry. In that place, people often make statements about their truth, whatever that might be and although I may not always agree with their position, I appreciate hearing it as I see it as an opportunity to gain a little more insight into who they are.
But in an instant, that lovely atmosphere can get poisoned. You know what I’m talking about: those times when it is as if someone walks into that corner meeting place with a bullhorn in hand and publicly blasts that person’s truth, and all of us on the sidelines are forced to witness the verbal carnage in front of us. All it takes is a couple of acerbic volleys between two opposing points of view and bam, we all just want to head for the door or at the very least, select “unfriend”.
Really, what could possibly be accomplished when we bash Kirk Cameron or the POTUS on our newsfeed? Do we actually believe we’re going to change a person’s opinion about DOMA by blasting our viewpoint, or do we really think Christians are going to suddenly kick their God to the curb because someone bullies them on Facebook for their beliefs?
I just don’t think that clubbing someone over the head with a quote by Jon Stewart or Huck or the Huffington Post or even the Bible as a means to win an argument serves any purpose except to unnecessarily cause division. Sure, we need to stand for truth when the time is right and yes, we live in the land of free speech… but in that setting? Just because we can… should we?
When I look at the whole counsel of Scripture, I see that no matter who He encountered in public, Jesus hit the core of everyone He met with love and in fact, said that love wins.
My mother has always said “You can always say more, but you can never say less.” Good advice, mom.
As I was chewing on all this the other day an old protest song came to my mind and before I knew it, I’d penned my own satirical rewrite as my own little protest. I hope Bob doesn’t mind.
(Listen to Bob Dylan sing “The Times, They Are A Changin”) Come gather ’round people wherever you roam And see that the whole world around us has thrown
Us a curve ball that no one could guess would be shown
So many around us are hating
What if we looked inward to see how we’re prone
For the times, they are a changin’ Come right wings and liberals
Who shake hard your fists
And keep up the rancor and how you insist
That your bents and opinions are all catalysts
For the changes you think should be raging
For whoever wins now will be later to lose
And your ground, it’s slowly fading Come family and old friends throughout the land
Do criticize what you can’t understand
And pound down your fist but the flame will be fanned
Insist the opposer’s worth blamin’
Though red or though blue, all opinions remand
And your cause, no one is listening And God, what thinks You as this tumult abounds? You must feel so saddened as Your kids expound
On their theories and slants as their prejudice unbounds
The twists on Your truth they are making
Straight on at a mirror we all need to gaze
At ourselves, we all need changing.
And in closing, some great advice from the best selling Book of all time:
“’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.'” 1 Corinthians 10:22 “One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ Matthew 22:35-40
Sylvia Lange is a Christian women’s speaker who lives in Southern California.
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After 49 years, I found my thing.
Growing up and living at the ocean, I have body surfed, skin dived, kayaked, sailed, and just about any and everything else having to do with the big blue. But it wasn’t until 4 years ago that I and that great expanse became one and since then, it’s all been about the board.
The great thing about stand-up paddle boarding is your vantage point. As you glide high above the surface of the water you are afforded great views of what’s under the surface as well as what’s out in front of you. I’ve paddled on my Takayama Ali’i II Wolf bought for me on Mission Bay, Trinity Lake, Tahoe, and all over the Sea of Cortez. But it doesn’t matter where I’m paddling; as long as I’m on the water, I’m a happy girl. I’ve seen sharks beneath me, have been followed by sea lions, and have chased dolphins. Lola loves it too and in carrying her extra 90 pounds, my overall balance has gotten strong.
I started paddling with my pal Holly off the Lawrence Street beach on the backside of Shelter Island. Like me, she’s fearless, doesn’t care if it’s raining or sunny, and is just as happy going out on a windy day when there’s chop as she is to go out on morning glass. We even like it when a big wake from a boat hits us because it forces us to get creative in how we’re going to stay upright as we know from experience that even the smallest stirring of the water can throw you in if you’re not on the alert. As we’ve raced and challenged each other, our power has increased and our balance has gotten rock solid and now, we rarely even get wet. Secretly, I think we’re a little puffed up about that.
Not long ago though, Holly and I were paddling hard out in the harbor and a speedboat came up from behind, passing us way over to the right. We accounted for his wake, waved and kept on paddling and talking. The boat quickly went out of view but a few minutes later, remnants of its wake touched us from behind and bam, I was suddenly overboard. It was the smallest of ripples but it knocked me over with the strength of a cresting wave. Major bummer too, as I was fully clothed.
As I pulled my soaking wet, red-faced self back on to my board it occurred to me that in that moment, I was a living metaphor. I was struck that it’s not the big stuff that most typically tosses me on my butt; no, it’s the little things that throw me off balance and put me into the soup.
Funny how we can flip out when we forget our wallet, lose our keys, or hear we’ve been criticized by a coworker we barely know. We practically alert the media when our cell phone company messes up our account, we ding our fresh pedicure, a friend cancels at the last minute, our flight’s been delayed, or discover that our bank account is overdrawn. I’m convinced it’s not the elephants in the living room that typically get us… it’s the ants in the kitchen!
I need to not be a drama mama over little things that ultimately don’t matter. As Richard Carlson so aptly puts it in his book title of the same name, Don’t sweat the small stuff and (by the way)– it’s all small stuff. For God’s sake, there are way bigger things to be concerned about. I want to be consistent and surrendered to the Power that is greater than I, even in little matters. If I am going to call myself a Christian, then for crying out loud, I’d better live more like I believe it… even with small things. People watch how we handle what life doles out, large or small, and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be derailed, uprooted, or thrown overboard by things we’ll forget about by Tuesday. I, for one, want to handle life with more consistency and grace, aided by the power of my faith and the strength of my tribe, no matter the tiny little ripples that might hit from behind.
“Whoever can be trusted with small things can also be trusted with big things.” Luke 16:10a ETRV
Sylvia Lange is a Christian women’s speaker from Southern California.