Years ago I worked at a Women’s Center writing protection orders for victims of domestic violence. My primary job was to interview women who claimed to have been abused, detailing the violent acts they had witnessed and advocate on their behalf to the judge, asking for a restraining order to be issued against their perpetrators. Some mornings I would have as many as four women waiting for me, because we were the only place for three counties that could do this work for free. It was a dark time for me, constantly hearing stories of torture, rape and manipulation by loved ones, and trying to calm scared, panicked women and offer them resources.
After working in this environment, I can understand why nurses are known for having a wicked sense of humor and police can get very cynical over time when dealing with the public; you can’t help but become calloused to the pain and misery people are in. I can remember leaving my office at lunchtime with two more protection orders to write and saying out loud to a co-worker, “If it wasn’t for all these women I could get my job done!” Ouch. I was overwhelmed and under supported, but those women didn’t deserve to have someone with my attitude advocating for them that day.
How many times do you find yourself in a similar position?
As a stay at home mom a few years later, I sometimes felt this same way:
If it wasn’t for all these kids….
When my marriage doesn’t feel like the fairy tale I had envisioned:
If it wasn’t for this man….
The irony is that those women I was working to protect? They were my main priority at the time. And those sweet treasures I got to hang out with? They defined me for years. And that wonderful man God gave just to me? Way better than anything I could have ever imagined for myself. I have found that often the thing I am most passionate about can also be the thing I am most burdened by. I guess it makes sense on the human level, but I want to someday reach the point of just being grateful.
If it wasn’t for these women, I wouldn’t have a job.
If it wasn’t for these kids, I wouldn’t be a Mom.
If it wasn’t for this man, I wouldn’t be complete.
I call this the “Get To” life vs. the “Have To” life. I don’t have to go to work. I don’t have to workout, or go to church, or help with the chores, thanks to the Lord! I GET to do all of those things and more. I have a job that provides for my family and a body that is physically capable of working out and a faith that encourages community and a home that is a comfort for me. Yes, there are challenges in life, but the only reason I HAVE to face challenges is because I am choosing that over GETTING to face challenges. Thank you Lord for giving us a world in which the choice is ours in what we get to do vs. what we have to do.