I (Michele) have spent much of my adult life filled with so many dreams and aspirations that I have thought I need several lifetimes to get everything done that I want to accomplish. I’ve dreamed of going back to school for a master’s degree, of learning to play a musical instrument well, of working as a lactation consultant, of devoting more hours to our ministry…the list goes on and on. This doesn’t even touch on the good deeds which I would like to focus on. This past year, with my 8th pregnancy and then time spent with baby Lucas needing to be hospitalized, I’ve actually added a new word to my vocabulary that has revolutionized my dreaming. The word is finite.
I have been coming to realize that to accept that I am finite is a part of humility. It may seem like the humble person is the one always serving, always meeting the needs of others, always doing a good job. But in reality, what can sometimes come across as humble is often a refusal to accept that I am finite. I want to be infinite. I want to be able to do all the good works listed in the Bible. I want to be a great wife and mother while also “making a difference” outside the home. But God is the only one who is infinite. Accepting that I am creature and not Creator means accepting that I am finite, I am limited and I can only do a tiny portion of the good things that are out there to be done.
I spent 37 nights in the hospital with my baby this past year. Finite meant realizing that my other children were in God’s hands while I was away. Baby Lucas has been a pretty tranquil baby, but not at all a good napper. Finite meant realizing that it is okay not to get much done other than caring for him and the family. Finite means looking into my baby’s eyes, enjoying his smile. Finite means being in awe that I was blessed to bring a new person into the world, without looking ahead to all the ways I could be conquering the world.
I have been helping mothers with breastfeeding for much of my time as a mother. I spent 10 years as a La Leche League leader, and eventually became a board certified lactation consultant. In 2016 it was time to renew my certification. After completing something like 69 of the 75 education hours needed for renewal, I made the decision to quit. Helping new mothers has been my passion, and I have invested countless hours studying lactation and working with mothers. I wrestled during this pregnancy with whether to continue with the investment or to recognize that my life has taken a different turn, with living in Uruguay and having an eighth baby. I chose to recognize that I am finite, and that my life is full of many blessings that need the best of my time and energies. A husband, eight children, a new church plant–these are the blessings on my plate. These are what need my attention.
I thought my decision to give up my lactation certification would be more difficult than it was. In fact, it has been nothing but a relief. And as I remind myself in whatever situations and pressures I face that I am finite, I find that I am experiencing freedom rather than loss. There is a lot of freedom in doing less. Putting to death various dreams and expectations has brought new energy to the responsibilities that are before me. Reminding myself that I am finite means that I can enjoy the precious little ones that need my help without worrying too much about the to-do list items that might not get checked off. And I find that when I get that urge to plan for a future master’s degree or to learn a new language I just say no to those dreams, since they are merely a distraction for the beautiful life I am living right now.