My friend Annette once said to me that having kids saved her from herself. At the time the only thing I heard in that statement, was that it would take me from myself. I heard the negative of what I would lose for this opaque gain of mothering, or more precisely, of loving. In giving up part of ourselves to another, there is loss. I don’t have a job anymore. I don’t think as deeply. I write less. I read less. I interact less. My days feel mundane sometimes. I feel isolated sometimes. I feel small. I’m tired. I feel simple. And I hate to say it, but on bad days I feel trapped.
I was talking to a friend once about marriage. He was so disinterested in it because it just sounded hard. He rattled off all that seemed difficult, the required selflessness, the loss of independence, all the effort it is to maintain, the 50%. I remember thinking, well ya, that’s all there, but you’re missing the goodness of it. The love. Maybe you don’t know it until you know it, but when you do, all the work is nothing. The love, as I understand it, bears the weight of all the toil.
From Annette I just heard that mothering might keep me from myself, from simple pleasures, from part of my happiness. I didn’t take into account what it would save me into. It’s a bit of a risk, by choice or not, to lose simple goodness for strenuous greatness. It’s an act of “dying into life.”
Maybe our lives are made up of a bunch of tiny deaths that lead to greater life. Everything is reflective of what it is to live. The acts of emptying ourselves in exchange for connection, for purpose, for holiness, brings us closer to heaven on earth. We start to see a pattern, that when we lose part of ourselves to love, what we gain in return is to truly live. It’s inception. It’s a ton of tiny analogies for life inside this life, that even in heart stopping death, we are simply coming to greater life.
It’s better to lose ourselves to love than to own ourselves. It’s a big blaring sign for belief if we see it, by the grace of the cross, death leads to life within this life, and so, it will keep leading to life beyond it.
For those that have the eyes for it, it is the gospel on repeat in our lives. In both big and small ways, loss of parts of ourselves to sacrificial love, whatever the form it takes, truly and completely saves us from ourselves and saves us into life.
Thank God I'm not made for me. Thank God for Colette. Thank God for the cross.