Mary grew up in Nelson County, Virginia and attended UVA where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and a Master of Teaching in Elementary Education. After finishing school, she married her high school and college sweetheart in the church where they had met in 5th grade (which happens to be the same church her parents and grandparents were married in years before!). She and her husband just welcomed their first child, a son, this past November. She has taught 4th and 5th grade for the past 4 years at a small rural school just outside of Charlottesville. While she enjoys teaching, she loves being a mom even more, and hopes to soon be able to stay home with their little boy.
This morning a few friends from church were over with their sweet little children. I was the “odd woman out” – the only mother who is currently working. The other three ladies are all (for now) home with their children. They get together each week to “talk shop”, fellowship and share the joys and struggles on this journey of motherhood. I was a part of this group while on maternity leave, and was excited to be able to participate again this week while I am on spring break.
We enjoyed the chance to catch up and have a bit of adult interaction before it was time for us to put our kiddos down for naps, meet husbands for lunch or otherwise continue with our days. Before she left one of my friends said, “Hey, I’d love to make you guys a meal sometime soon.” I responded quickly and with sincere appreciation, “That’d be wonderful.”
Immediately I realized that this response was out of character for me, or at least, it was out of character for “pre-Eli” me. As I’ve mentioned before, I have learned SO much from having this sweet little boy. My son was not “planned” by the hubs and I (he was a surprise) but he was absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, part of God’s plan for our lives. When I think about so many people I know who tried for years to have a child, I know that my “it only takes one time” baby is a miracle, a gift that God knew we needed, even though we were not yet aware.
I certainly believe that God gave us Eli in order to bless us tremendously, but I also know that it was for more than that. It was to grow us, to show us our sin, and to teach us more about Him and his ways. For me specifically, it was to make me less selfish, and to break down my pride.
The “pre-Eli” me would have responded to my friend, “Oh, you don’t have to do that, I have it under control.” She would have pretended and gone to her grave making everyone think that things were going perfectly with balancing working, being a wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend, trying to keep up with things around the house and attempting to spend time with God each day. She would have bent over backwards to make things seem completely and totally under control, even if they were falling apart around her.
I have learned over the past few years, and especially since having our son, the importance of genuine community. We absolutely were not meant to do this life alone. We need each other tremendously, and we need to be open and honest about our struggles in order to let our friends in and allow them to help carry our burdens. NOTHING is gained by pretending to have it all together and carrying the weight alone. The Bible, full of “one another” verses, says “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2. I’m thankful that God is (slowly but surely) breaking down my pride and allowing me to live a much fuller life, being genuine and more willing to accept help. I am also thankful for the gift of the “one anothers” in my life – the sweet, life-giving friends who walk beside me and help me as I try to be the wife and mother I’m called to be.