by Joanie Butman
Sitting at the lacrosse finals last weekend, I had the privilege of meeting some new friends. During one of the conversations, the ubiquitous question “What do you do?” surfaced. I’ve always dreaded and been stymied by that query, and felt simpatico with my host when she replied, “I’m just a mom.” Having replied similarly for the last 23 years, I knew exactly what she meant. However, now that my children are grown, how do I respond? “I’m retired?” Parenthood is not something one retires from though it changes dramatically over the course of a lifetime. I’m currently in the junk lugging and storing phase. Not a lofty position by any standard.
Regardless, I found it difficult to imagine the beautiful, kind, generous, gracious, welcoming woman in front of me as ‘just’ anything. Having met her family, it was obvious she excelled at her job. It made me wonder why many of us dismiss our role so easily? In this context ‘just’ literally means “nothing more than or only.” No one is “nothing more than or only” anything because we’re all multi-dimensional, and God values us all equally. Was Jesus just a carpenter? Look at the motley crew He chose to establish His church. When Philip told Nathaniel he had found the Messiah, the first thing Nathaniel asked skeptically, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” The apostles were the Little Rascals of their day, bumbling along trying to understand the mystery of the Divine and their role in sharing it with others. Were Peter, James and John just fishermen? What about Mary and Joseph? Were they just nobodies? You bet. Most of the Biblical giants were. Was David just a shepherd? In almost every instance, God used the previous professions and life experiences of just ordinary people to develop and refine the skills needed for the extraordinary task He’d chosen for them. Sadly, it was the elite of the time that totally missed Christ just because they were clinging to their worldly positions too tightly.
Let’s face it. We’re all like the apostles – just bozos on the bus trying to do what we can, where we can, with what we’ve been given to the best of our ability. What we do isn’t as nearly as important as who we are when we’re doing it. We’ve all inherited a spark of the Divine. Our life’s journey is defined by the manner in which we flame that spark. How we choose to glorify God will be unique whether you’re driving in a car pool, driving a golf ball, driving a company as Chairman of the Board, or driving a country as Commander-in-Chief. That said, I firmly believe that regardless of your gender or profession, how we choose to glorify God within our own homes is one of our most important and lasting contributions to this world. We are passing the torch of Christ to the next generation. Can there be a more noble calling?
I will leave you with two quotes a friend passed along from professional golfer Bernhard Langer, recent winner of the Senior PGA Tournament. He’s an excellent example of someone who knows his value comes from whose he is, not what he does. He epitomizes the adage, “Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.” During an interview following his victory, Langer said:
“I’m just so blessed. I was carrying this Bible verse around with me from Proverbs 3:5-6. If I can just read it real quick: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ That doesn’t mean I’m going to win all the time but it does mean He’s by my side and I can rely on Him. And golf is my secondary thing. My faith is number one and it’s just awesome to have been out here for this long.”
Langer also shared: “I’m a Christian so I had my quiet time this morning and I just figured it’s in God’s hand. He’s in control and I’m just to going to try and enjoy myself and do the best I can to glorify Him. That’s really all. I’m playing to an audience of one, that’s Him, and I felt tremendous peace today, I really did. That’s when I play my best, you know, when I’m not bothered by anything, I’m just walking along enjoying the scenery and having a blast playing golf and doing it well. So it’s the gift He’s given me and I’ve worked hard at it and today we saw the fruit of the labor.”
How will you choose to glorify God today? Personally, I’m just a mom moving my son into an apartment in New York City for the summer. As I write this, I realize that Christian fellowship is all about helping others carry their ‘stuff’ and sometimes moving it to where it belongs. Who knew I was in training all this time? I can recycle unnecessary crap faster than anyone I know and am ruthless when determining what needs to be discarded. I guess I’m not ‘just a mom’ after all.