I've been reading a wonderful book that encourages people, specifically women, to stop apologizing for having dreams and to set goals to be the person they were created to be. We are all uniquely designed to offer something in this life and the author encourages her readers to find the passion that burns inside them and follow it full-heartedly.
I sometimes dream of being on tour and playing concerts every night with a rocking band! I imagine one day being a Worship Arts Pastor on staff at a progressive, countercultural church, nurturing teams of artists, and planning worship experiences for the church people and community. I long to put song sets together that are meaningful: weaving scripture and prayer throughout to provide solace, hope, and reflection for others. I dream about building relationships with people and supporting each other without any children yelling in the background.
But my current status is a stay-at-home mom with three, high energy children, ages 5 through 8. There are few moments of quiet reflection, spare the wee hours of the morning if I get out of bed and go for a brisk walk before 7 am. I can't play a three-minute song without interruption from someone needing a snack, settling a dispute over stolen toys, or putting a bandaid on someone's scraped finger. One of my children usually wants to do what I'm doing and they will start to play and sing along, despite knowing or not knowing the lyrics and notes. Or when I'm writing, they begin to type on the computer. When I'm in my writing zone, they will tell me very long stories or ask me a million questions about who knows what. There are many times my five-year-old little girl requests to sit on my lap and asks me to play lego people with her instead of reading my book, or answer an email/text that I received a few days ago.
With school and workplaces closed due to COVID-19, our family has all been home; my husband working upstairs, my first and second grader doing school online and my preschooler wanting to do all that her brothers are doing. I am barely managing to help my children with their school work, make snacks and meals throughout the day, keeping my preschooler busy and maintaining some kind of "clean, healthy" environment in our home. Oh yes, AND providing ample opportunity for them to burn energy inside and outside, confined to our front and backyard.
Somewhere along the path of adulthood, I started to believe that I was failing. I'm failing to reach my dreams. I'm failing to set goals. I'm not working hard enough to manage my family and professional life. I began a mental loop that said, "I'm not really that talented. I should do music and share in relationships, but only as a hobby and not as a career. I'm not made to work or share this gift."
Who told me that? Who spoke this lie into my life? What other lies have snuck in that have told me I'm not enough, or I need to change, or that what I have to offer to the world is not valuable?
My Creator did not speak these harmful words into my life. Without even noticing, I allowed these words to take root in my mind like a slow poison. Now, I peel away the layers to try and find the woman I was designed to be.
What if my gift to this world is singing and leading others in music and reflection with my children playing legos in the background? What if my gift is playing acoustic versions of songs in my house, allowing others to experience the song in a new way? What if my gift to the world is to show other moms that they matter, too, and that even though most of our free time as moms is spent nurturing and caring for children, we have a voice that is powerful and distinct and makes a difference?
We've been given a chance to live and breathe and sing and dance and create and innovate and stand up for others and love our neighbors and take care of our earth. That is a cause worth showing up for every day. We need everyone's contribution to do it!
I will still daydream of singing to a packed out stadium while playing the piano in my house with my children running wildly around the stair banisters. And that's good. And that's enough. And it's not polished and put together nicely and I'm choosing to be okay with it. This is what's happening in my life today. For now, I'll sing my heart out in my living room and post songs on social media. Music is life and breathe and energy and rest and process and worship for me.
Someday in the future, there will be a day for "bigger" things; but for now, this is my life. I choose it. I love it. I'm thankful for it. It's enough. I'm enough. And you are enough, too.
Leah Wood Harrell is a worship leader, songwriter, and stay-at-home mom with three children: ages five, six, and eight. She loves to go for long walks and play the piano. She is married to her loving husband who has served in the United States Marine Corps for 16+ years. You can download her album “Broken Person” by Leah Wood on iTunes or Spotify or find her on Facebook.