Fifteen years ago, I was living in Brazil. I had moved there for missions and was serving Pastor Lester Hughes and his wife, Mary Grace, with their Bible School and starts of a church plant.
I had met the Hughes in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1998. My family and I were attending a Missionary Training School at the same time as they were, and I happened to be the youngest of the class.
Our paths crossed once again in Italy in 1999 - while my family and I were living there. And four years later - in 2003 - I packed two 25-gallon Rubbermaid storage totes and moved to Brazil to work alongside the Hughes.
I loved Pastor Lester and Mary Grace dearly and felt privileged to be in a foreign nation - helping kick their vision a little further down the road.
While there, a youth group from Colorado arrived on a mission’s trip. I got connected with them and ended up staying in their same hotel for the week - bunking with one of the youth girls.
We traveled to schools, performed dramas, met students, shared our testimonies, and held a huge concert in the park - where we proclaimed the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
I was learning Portuguese quickly and it came in handy when there weren’t enough interpreters to go around. I was asked to help emcee and translate conversations between the American and Brazilian youth.
It was a whirlwind of an experience and when it was time to say Goodbye…it was a tearful one.
I had been given one week off from my responsibilities with the Hughes. Unfortunately, the day that I was to return to the office was the same day the youth were traveling to Rio de Janeiro - to do some sight-seeing, souvenir shopping, and anticipated beach time.
Needless to say, I felt disappointedly jaded to be having to return to the office.
I’m quite certain I cried myself to sleep that afternoon - partly due to the exhaustion that comes from the pace of a mission’s trip; and partly due to another wave of loneliness that had hit me.
I had worked hard that week, and it didn’t seem fair.
As the youth flew back home to America, I took the bus back up the mountains of Juiz de Fora. And the higher up the mountains I went, the deeper my loneliness and disappointment settled around me.
Days passed and my loneliness and disappointment were still there. In fact, the chip that I had been carrying on my shoulder had turned into a big ole’ block.
And I’ll never forget one particular conversation I ended up having in the weeks that followed…
If you would have asked me what I was doing the week before the team arrived, I would have told you that I was having the best time of my life. I was loving my life in Brazil - learning Portuguese, building relationships with the Brazilians, and serving the Hughes in whatever capacity they needed me.
And then the mission’s trip had come and gone and I found myself doing my same work - mostly from inside an office of a very large, quiet house - up in the mountains of a bustling city.
My disappointment of missing out on the Rio Day nursed my “feeling gypped” - which festered into a joy-robbing attitude. And it apparently showed as I was called into the “office” one afternoon.
It was there in the kitchen where Pastor Lester took the time to help me articulate what had gone sour in my heart.
Now, Pastor Lester (nearly 60 at the time) was a 6’3” tall black man, with a voice an octave lower than anyone I had ever met. His twinkling eyes, gentle spirit, and genuine love for people was attractive and disarming to an insecure girl of 14 when we had first met. His magnetic smile pulled out one’s own, and his laugh was not only music - but contagious to one’s soul.
And that day - sitting next to me at the kitchen table - Pastor Lester allowed me the courtesy to shed the emotional tears I had been bottling up inside.
I confessed that I missed the friends that I had made… I felt gypped that I missed out on Rio Day… I felt wanted and needed with the team that week…
I felt like Brazil knew I was there.
And then life went back to normal, and I went back to working inside an office - up in the mountains of a city of more than half a million people.
I was once again, anonymous - except this time I felt lost in the quiet and wrestled with the feeling that no one knew I was there.
My once-exciting tasks after spending a week with the team, now seemed insignificant and mundane.
After spilling the remainder of my frustrated tears and feelings, Pastor Lester sat there quietly and allowed me a moment to breathe and regain my composure. I found the silence reassuring and raised my head to catch his gaze. His kind and sincere eyes assured me that what he was about to say would be worth it if I simply leaned in.
And in a very gentle and loving tone he said, “Honey, I know you’re here. And more than that, God does too.”
He went on to assure me that we all go through seasons where God works out our own intentions, motives, and pride. We talked about how little things - even my current office work - were big deals to God.
He spoke to the heart of why I had come to Brazil in the first place; and then asked if I could commit to do that again - with the right heart and attitude.
I agreed and apologized for my attitude. And as we prayed, I asked God to forgive me of my pride. I also asked Him to fill me with a fresh excitement for what I had set out to do in the first place - help kick their vision a little further down the road.
That kitchen-table conversation in Brazil become a turning-point in my life. And out of it birthed a conviction that Motherhood continues to enforce:
When we lose sight of the mission, the marvelous quickly becomes mundane.
And, Friend, it’s easy for Motherhood’s marvelous Wash-Rinse-and-Repeat cycles to quickly become mundane!
It’s easy to lose sight of the mission when you find yourself deep inside the trenches.
It’s easy to think, “What I do doesn’t matter."
It’s easy to believe the lie, “No one knows I’m here.”
It’s easy to feel jaded when Motherhood causes you to miss out on the fun Rio Trips of life - all because you opted to be an advocate of rhythm and routine.
And since Motherhood comes with extended stays in Anonymity - much like being in an office, in a very large, quiet house up in the mountains of a foreign land - it’s easy to forget what the mission was in the first place!
Motherhood doesn’t always get the standing ovations that our pride craves and our entitlement believes it deserves.
And when we struggle with this fact, we need to take a look at Jesus,
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
There is greatness in your work, and what you do matters.
So, if you’re feeling jaded because Motherhood has caused you to “miss out,” and your marvelous is feeling mundane, I’d dare say that you’ve simply lost sight of your mission.
And if you’re unsure of what your mission was in the first place, start with this:
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
So wipe your eyes and blow your nose and ask God to help you fall in love with the mission all over again.
And get back to work - mothering on purpose - with purpose - because, Honey, He knows you’re here.