We’re right in the middle of my list – and I got nostalgic as I was writing this, which equals all the feels and lots of words, so thanks for sticking with me! This set includes thoughts about relationships, mommyhood (I became a mom at age 33), and important God-lessons learned – including a little bit about why my blog focuses on God’s goodness (see #20). And if you missed it, you can read numbers 1-10 here.
11. People won’t tell you what they need.
People often struggle alone, or are in such shock they are unable to verbalize their own needs, or they tell you in cryptic ways that they are hurting or anxious or stressed. I am admittedly horrible at reading people and sensing their needs (discernment is not my gift, y’all). But I know in my times of deepest need, people stepped in and did things. Sometimes those things were practical, like cleaning our house or bringing us food. Sometimes it meant coming over to watch a movie with me while I healed from surgery – a must for this extrovert who needs people time.
So even if people tell you they’re “fine” or doing ok, just do something. Don’t overstep your bounds, but it’s ok to be a little pushy. Deliver a coffee, a gift card, a clean bathroom, an hour of baby-sitting, or a well-timed cryfest and impromptu prayer meeting. You cannot be everything to everybody, but with one small gift of your time, people will remember that you showed up.
12. You (often) don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
My mom passed away unexpectedly at the age of fifty-seven. We lived 1,000 miles apart – and while we loved each other, we weren’t the type to talk every day or even every week. We’d make up for it with marathon phone calls once or twice a month. But, oh, how I wish I would’ve called more, visited more, and cherished each moment we had while we were in the moment. I’d love to watch “White Christmas” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” with her just one more time. Hold on tight, friends, life is but a vapor.
13. I was a great mom…until I became one.
I had no idea that this child that I begged God for would test my patience like no other human on the planet. I love being a mom, but it is work. Constant, prayful, asking-for-forgiveness work. The long list of “I’d nevers” that I’d developed during my four years of infertility quickly vanished. (Cue Netflix for mama to get a minute, ok?) I’m sorry for all the judging I did; I get it now – solidarity, sisters!
14. Motherhood has taught me so much about God.
God has given me glimpses into His character that I somehow missed before becoming a mom. Wow, His longsuffering and patience with me is supernatural, gracious, and loving! He allows me to try again and again when I don’t get it right. And so often God bestows that patience to me when I’m dealing with my son. There are (too) many times I lose my cool, but other times I’m inexplicably patient and understanding (explained only by God’s grace on me). So many “mom moments” turn into “God moments” – I’m so glad He’s still working on me!
15. Being a Mom is awesome.
Parenthood is not all doom and gloom and “Am I going to mess this kid up for life?!” moments. It’s fun. It’s silly. It’s sweetness. It’s letting them help you cook and dust, even if it’s imperfect and a little nerve-wracking at times. It’s seeing your kitchen and living room turn into Lego-topia. It’s watching your preschooler with pride as he recites a very difficult Scripture passage during the Christmas program, then proceeds to do robot moves on stage. (No lie!) It’s humbling and rewarding.
16. Kids will mess up your plans.
They will come too soon. They will come too late. They will throw up right as you’re heading out the door – or in their car seat. They will throw a tantrum literally right before you’re getting ready to give a testimony at a Bible study. Yep. Be flexible. Give grace. Laugh. Slow down and take time with your kids because sometimes the difficult, inconvenient things are the most important.
17. “Work Erica” and “Mommy Erica” are Totally Different
When I worked in the PR field, I think my co-workers would’ve defined me as Type A. I was very organized, black and white, and task-oriented. I expected others to be the same – while allowing for some fun when duties were done, of course. Now that I’m a full-time mom, Laidback Erica has taken over. I’m pretty relaxed on schedules (breakfast on the couch anyone?) and chill when it comes to Reed’s activities. I don’t know if it’s boy-mom mentality – he has ALL of the wiggles and sometimes I just have to let him climb, jump, explore, take a risk. Or if it’s a little of my mom’s parenting seeping in – she was pretty laid back when it came to certain things.
OR if it’s God’s grace via the way motherhood began for me – I had zero control over things because of my health (that story comes another day), including Reed’s outfits, his whereabouts, and feeding or sleeping schedules for several months. I wonder if God was graciously loosening my grip to teach me that I cannot be a control freak without worrying myself to death and being detrimental to my son. Of course, there are boundaries, standards, and things we teach him as his parents. But I’m afraid the only-child-helicopter-mom would’ve been in full force if these lessons wouldn’t have been learned early on.
18. Getting to know God is a life-long journey.
There are so many things I’ve missed about God’s character because I was too self-involved, too worried, or too distracted to see it. I’m thankful that He continues to patiently call me to Himself and that His Word is full of deep, rich truths that I can read 100 times and find something new.
19. God is compassionate.
Somehow in my first three decades of life, I missed this (see point #18). I grew up in a loving home with parents who, while not perfect, took us to church and practiced what they preached. But I never really understood God’s compassion until my 30s brought some unimaginable pain – infertility, the unexpected loss of my mom, my own crazy health journey. I needed God’s compassion above all else. God isn’t there just to “teach us a lesson” and make us better Christians. He is there to catch us when we fall. To lovingly comfort us in our sorrow. To make us more Christ-like because He loves us. And in God’s compassion, His timing is perfect. For example, the verse that was sitting at the check-out desk at the fertility clinic right after I learned I had an ectopic pregnancy, meaning we would lose the baby was this: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) Yes – compassion.
20. God is good.This is another lesson I grew up hearing at church and home, but it took some deep waters to bury this truth deep in my soul – this very idea that I’ve centered my entire blog around and intend to spend the rest of my days proclaiming and exploring. In my 39th year of life, I was facing two more aneurysm surgeries. I was nervous. I prayed and cried and muddled through the possible outcomes. Finally, after much wrestling, I concluded, “But if not, God is still good.” Some of the hardest words to utter.
These words are based off the Bible passage where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown in a fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar for refusing to bow down to an idol. They knew God could rescue them, but concluded in Daniel 3:18, “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” God’s goodness transcends my understanding; He knows the end of the story. If I take everything else that I know about God and trace it back to His goodness, I can endure the painful and uncertain parts of my story.
If you’ve got it in you, you can read the final 10 lessons I learned in my 30s! Or come back after your eyes have rested!