I was the kid in the mushroom cut and head-gear who would knock timidly at her Dad’s closed office door—because he was a pastor who worked from home—and even though he always responded, he often sounded annoyed and I carried that feeling with me far into adulthood.
The feeling of getting in the way of something — or someone — more important.
I was the girl who wished her Dad would stay home at night and visit his own kids instead of doing church calls and eventually I became the girl who didn’t care anymore. Who starved herself nearly to death by the age of 13.
And the other day I realized I was the girl who’d grown into a woman who was just like her Dad.
In many ways I’m proud to be like him — my father is one of the kindest, most selfless people I know. He gives until he’s spent, and then he gives some more, and there is no one I respect more except for my husband.
Yet I’ve become like my Dad in that I too often define myself by my work, versus by the gifts God has given me. Because it’s easier to accept something you’ve done yourself than something you haven’t earned.
I have an office at home. I write books, blog and speak to those who are hurting, and recently I founded a non-profit.
These are all good things, but they mean nothing — absolutely nothing — if my family suffers because of it.
The other day I returned home from a conference determined to change.
I told my husband I was committing to spending evenings with him again; I’d rise early in the morning to get work done if need be. I resolved to not check my email before a certain hour each day and spend intentional, quality moments with my two and four-year-old because time is writing her verse all over their skin and I’m desperate to know my sons before it’s too late.
But then, a couple of days after making these commitments I received some discouraging news regarding my work. I did not take it well. I walked around the house, morose and glum; I cried; I felt a heaviness I couldn’t shake and when my husband tried to hug me I shrugged him off. Then, I went on a bike ride.
And on the way home (because it always happens on the way home, doesn’t it?) I heard God say, “You have a choice, Emily. You can choose family over work right now, too — in how you deal emotionally with this. Putting family first is not just a physical effort, Emily, but one you make with all of your heart, soul and mind. Will you choose to put family first, in everything?”
I whispered Yes. My emotions completely shifted, even as I rode and I felt a joy surging through me. Gratitude does this — it washes your eyes clean so you can focus on the gift. The gift of love, that is right in front of you.
I’m choosing love. Because at the end of the day, if I haven’t served my family well—if I haven’t shown them Jesus — then all of my other offerings, they’re like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
I am excited to give away a copy of my new memoir, ATLAS GIRL, today. Just follow these instructions to enter:
I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl, today. Just order HERE, and then go HERE, and you’ll receive The House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing the Story in Your Soul (which the above post was taken from) — an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.
All proceeds from Atlas Girl will go toward The Lulu Tree ~ preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, founder of the non-profit, The Lulu Tree, as well as the author of five books including the newly-released memoir Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). All proceeds from Atlas Girl will benefit The Lulu Tree. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.