I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can make this world a better place. How we can stop hurting each other and start showing some love. I want to believe it can get better, but Lord knows it seems to get worse every day.
Mostly, I’m angry. I want to tell everyone: just get it together. But I know that would be naive. I know there’s real hurt and real pain and real problems that need fixing.
But still, I’m angry. I’m angry that everything becomes an opportunity to exploit someone’s angle; I’m angry that everyone has an angle. And I’m angry that this is the mess my kids have to grow up in.
I’m not just angry, though. I’m sad. I’m heavy-hearted. And I really do want to help, to make things better.
Did I ever tell you about the time I traveled to Africa?
Alone. Across the world, by myself? I was 20. Brave and stupid and convinced I would change the world.
I was in college, studying to be a journalist and I was going to travel the world and write about things that mattered: things that would make peoples’ lives better, righting wrongs and exposing corruption.
I got pregnant about five months after that trip to Africa, then again a year after that, then again and again. And I looked up and had four children under the age of six and some days I couldn’t breathe. The likelihood of ever going to Africa as a missionary again looked pretty grim. I finished college only to put my writing career on hold.
Sometime after the birth of my fourth son, a friend posted on social media, defending a woman’s right to choose, especially in dire circumstances, when she might not be able to care for a child, or her health might be at risk. I argued that life should always be preserved and she issued me this challenge: “Boots on the ground: what are you doing to help these women?”
It struck me on some deep level. What was I doing to help? I felt so passionately for the unborn, the orphans, and the fatherless… and yet? I stayed pretty comfortable in the day to day.
So, I signed up and began volunteering for the local pregnancy help center. Mr. Incredible and I started going to classes to get licensed to foster to adopt. But before long, I had bitten off more than I could chew and we slowed down on our fostering plans and I quit my volunteer job.
On top of my quest to save the world, I’m also a mama to four mighty little men, whom I’m responsible for homeschooling and raising up. That in and of itself keeps me busy 24 hours a day (no vacation, + I work nights).
I thought that saving the world meant traveling the world. I thought I had to get my hands dirty like I had when I held the baby in Africa who had no diaper and only stinking rags that had been soiled over and over. I thought I had to meet some arbitrary standard that said “this is what being helpful looks like.”
It turns out that I can help the world by raising good men to be part of the world.
Yesterday, my eight-year-old son got mad at his seven-year-old brother and yelled and spoke harshly to him.
I called him to me and looked him in the eye, unable to contain my emotions, tears welling up. I told him “There are some pretty terrible things happening in our country right now. A lot of people are hurting, and things are pretty bad for some folks. I want to make it better. Don’t you want to make this world a better place?”
He looked at me, shaken, having no clue in his innocence about what has been taking place lately and why I was so upset, and said solemnly, “Yes.”
“It starts with you,” I told him. “It starts in our home, with being kind to each other, so that we can learn to be kind to the world.”
He got it. I got it. I don’t have to travel the world or volunteer or participate in outreach activities of any kind. Those things are great, and maybe someday I’ll be able to do them again, but right now: I’m changing the world.
I’m raising my kids to be kind and loving to each other so they can be kind and loving to the rest of the world.
Ultimately, my mission field is wherever I’m called.
In this season, I’m called to be at home with my boys. I’m honored to be called to be at home with my boys.
I’m honored to raise these four small but mighty men who will one day grow up to stand up for what’s right, treat women with respect, and share a gospel love with the world.
I’m honored to create a legacy of strong family values, because, after all, this country can only be as strong as the families within it.
I’m honored to show my boys that my favorite place to be is with them, teaching them to read, to write, to cook, to play, to create, to love, to give, and to spread their arms wide to a hurting world in need.
I don’t have all the answers.
In fact, I have very few. But I do know this: I can do something. I am doing something.
The importance of motherhood cannot be overstated. We have this enormous responsibility to raise people. People who will change the world.
The children we raise will grow up to vote, create policies, invent new ideas, implement change. They’ll have families of their own someday and those families will shape the direction this country takes. They’ll either change our world for the better… or for the worst.
If motherhood feels like a burden (and I know some days it does), remember, you have the most important job in the whole world. Want to help? Put boots on the ground and help make our world a better place? Raise great kids.
Tell your kids you love them. Every day.
Hug them. Every day.
Insist they treat each other kindly, forgive each other, and show each other compassion.
Refuse to allow division to grow between your children. Teach them that love wins and forgiveness is imperative.
Then insist they show the same kindness to the rest of the world. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to see things change.