By Joy Wong
In the last few months, our family has been going through a lot of transition, including buying our first home and moving while expecting our next baby, due in July. On top of all this, I’m still finishing up my spiritual direction certification, continuing – albeit, very slowly – in the ordination process, and staying home to care for my daughter who is now close to the age of 2.
My spiritual director recently expressed concern at all that I was trying to accomplish at once, and invited me to reflect on the role that productivity has played in my life. After spending time reflecting, I realized that deep down, what drives me to be productive is a sense that my existence is a burden on others that needs to made up for with contributions.
Furthermore, while there is a part of me that feels compelled to be a stay-at-home mom during this season (and therefore assigns great value to the time spent with my daughter), there is another subconscious part of me that sizes up how my work is adding to my self-worth, and in those calculations, the time and energy I spend as a stay-at-home mom counts for nearly nothing at all. So while I spend the bulk of my time as a full-time parent, it’s only the other add-on projects that I do on the side that actually serve – erroneously, of course — to justify my existence and add to my value as a person.
While other activities and projects in my life can more easily be categorized as “mission” or “service to others,” I’ve clearly not fully integrated my role as a parent into the understanding of my vocation; or at least, only in a very superficial way. Up until now, I tend to think of caring for orphans in third world countries as more noble and spiritually grand; having my own children and staying at home to care for them feels more selfish – like time and money spent on the fulfillment of the American dream, which preachers often denounce as quite opposite to the values of the kingdom of God.
Recently, however, I felt led to meditate on Colossians 1:15-20, and was struck by how much Christ is intertwined with creation. In particular, verse 16 spoke powerfully to me:
for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers — all things have been created through him and for him. (NRSV)
I realized that while subconsciously, I had categorized the time and energy spent having a family and raising my own children as something for my own happiness and gratification, in truth it is not separate from God’s activity in the world. In fact, quite the opposite: whether I realize it or not, Christ has been intimately involved from the beginning and throughout. My children are not just a gift and blessing to my husband and I; more importantly, they have been created through Christ and for Christ.
For the privilege of being able to participate in this God-work, I am humbled and truly grateful.
Joy Wong is a contributing author to Mirrored Reflections: Reframing Biblical Characters, published in September 2010. She has an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, a BA in English from Princeton University, as well as managerial experience in industrial distribution. Joy and her family attend Northland Village Church.