Mentoring, Mothering, and Multiplicity…
I heard this word this week. In a church service.
One pastor, encouraging another pastor not to be afraid of the multiplicity of things God had for him to do. It was a lovely, challenging, mentoring moment, and I thought about…
Of course I did.
We all have so many things to do. Modern society is full of roles to take and hats to change in and out of. For men and women. Young and old. (I even remember reading about preschool stress syndrome once). Now we get work emails on our phones, nights and weekends, too. But when it comes to multi-tasking, no one has the strain young mothers do. (And I’ve been through med school AND residency, just for comparison). Maybe my oldest, during boot camp and then Special Forces training, approached this level of unforgiving intensity. But it was limited to 2 or 3 months.
But, Dr. Karen, you say, you had 5 children. All at once. Surely it isn’t that hard for mothers with 1 or 2.
One child rocked my world. Some people never recover.
And two? Two is where I went quietly insane.
Just kidding, but some days it felt like it. And it cured me of perfectionism. Forever.
After the second child, numbers 3, 4 and 5 were cake. But maybe it was me that had changed.
(I’m told it goes to another level at the sixth; I never felt led to try it out.)
And, I know that some of you reading still long for a marriage or a child. Don’t despair. You are not forgotten. And this article is for you, too.
Because God stretches us all.
This senior pastor, ministering to a pastor from another nation, quietly said, “Don’t be afraid of the multiplicity of things God has for you do.”
Such a simple statement.
And it struck me to my core.
Because I’m entering another busy season.
With Christian yoga workshops, teaching womens’ conferences, out-of-town women’s classes, ESL outreaches, and regular weekly ministry to young urban women. While also working full time. Oh, yeah, and I’m writing a book on the side. And, just to make it fun, in April I am due to retake my Boards. It’s been 10 years. And the American Board of Family Medicine sent me a lovely newsletter yesterday. They’re probably getting rid of the test. In 2017. Sigh. This year, those who are scheduled get to take it. Smile. They politely recommended studying 10-15 hours per week, graciously admitting that the test doesn’t match real-life practice very well. (Some years, 1/3 of practicing, experienced docs don’t pass.)
So I’m busy.
And I know I’m following the Lord in these things. Not just busy because I didn’t pay attention and took on too much. (Been there. I don’t like it.) This is a holy busy.
This happened to me once before. When I first came to Eagle mountain Church, I was a new-to-practice doctor. With five active, involved teens. And the Lord had me show up nearly every time the doors opened, because I needed it. And others …needed me. I joined the choir. Our choir director at the time was raised in the golden era of Black Gospel music in Chicago. And it was nothing like the “spirituals” I had learned from a very white high school choir director. This was a lovely, multi-racial church, and my fellow choir members didn’t have my Methodist/Baptist background. They were raised COGIC. (Pronounced “Kojik”)
I thought COGIC was a cop with a lollipop. (Kojak, anyone?) It isn’t. It stands for Church of God in Christ, and people from this church know Gospel music.
And COGIC people sing by ear. And I’m an alto. That means I was singing harmony. By ear. And I had to listen to the women around me for my part, watch the director, and try to keep my heart focused on the Lord. It was tough, but I could do it. And then, one day, in rehearsals, the director politely informed us that he wanted us to sway. In time. Together.
And, silly as it sounds, this is the point where I had to make a decision. I could’ve said, “This is too hard. I can’t do it.” I could have said, “I’m too busy”. “This isn’t my style of music.” I could have walked away from a team I was called to be part of, out of fear or embarrassment, or, even worse, a sense of inadequacy.
Or I could respond in faith. If I know I’m called to be here, and the director asks something of me, I can reach out to God for ability. Even if I don’t have it.
And I did. And, in those years, I learned to have a lot of fun worshipping God with music I had been unfamiliar with, swaying, smiling, singing and worshiping. In tune, while watching the director. And we made good music.
And, as I said above, I was involved in So. Many. Things. In those years. At home. In our schools. At work. In the community. At the church. And, one day, while we were rehearsing, and I was enjoying the musical challenges, the Lord spoke to me.
“This is not an accident. That you’re here, in choir, being stretched.” And He went on. “I want you to take this as a life lesson. Right now you have a lot of things to keep your mind on. But always watch me, like you would a choir director. I’ll cue you. And use your faith when it seems like too much to do.” So I did.
And I loved my life.
There have been other seasons. Seasons of rest. Seasons of healing.
The Bible says,
Psalm 31:14-15 But I trusted in thee, O Lord:I said, Thou art my God.
My times are in thy hand.
There are a seasons for everything. And I enjoyed them. Especially rest.
But now, I have come full circle , again. To a seasons of busy, varied productivity.
A season of multiplicity.
And I realized something.
The same God who made Adam and Eve, who Blessed them, who commanded them to be fruitful, said,
It’s a commandment.
And, just maybe…
MULTIPLICITY= MULTIPLY, in the CITY
So, in the years, when He challenges me with a multiplicity of things to do, in the city I’m currently called to serve in, I’m being very Scriptural.