I didn’t grow up dreaming of getting married or planning a fairy-tale wedding. Instead, I grew up with dreams of traveling, teaching and writing. I’m not sure when or how, but at some point in my young, formative years, I latched onto the idea that if I got married and had kids, I would lose myself – disappear into a mundane void of housework and keeping track of small children.
And so, I pursued my dreams – the first two anyway. Writing was something very personal to me. It was how I explored my world and expressed myself. Unlike when I spoke, I had no filter when I wrote, and so I kept this passion carefully guarded, unseen except through class assignments and later through newsletters. The first two dreams, however, I pursued with every ounce of energy I possessed. God was with me and opened enough doors to allow me to get a teaching position in China. However, even though I was following and seeking after God as much as I knew how, looking back I can see that I never really let go. My dreams, my passions were mine; they were me, and they couldn’t be trusted to anyone else, even God.
It wasn’t until one day that worn down from pursuing life on my own, I relented and told God I was ready and willing to let him really, truly, fully lead me. If he wanted to bring a man into my life now was the time, because I had no strength left to run away.
Fast-forward a month and through a series of circumstances that I can only now describe as God-driven, I met a guy – a really good guy. We were engaged within six months and married within a year. Yet that fear of losing myself was still present. Could I be a good wife and mother while still maintaining the interests and passions that made me – me?
I shared this fear with my husband. We discussed it on more than one occasion, and still I struggled. I was reluctant to do housework, hesitant in my cooking skills. I continued teaching, even after our first daughter was born and I continued to write. I even branched out enough with my writing to risk posting stories. Rather than balk at my “extracurricular activities,” my husband encouraged me. Bit by bit, my thinking began to change. I began to see that maybe these interests weren’t strictly mine, but were things that had been given to me by God. Maybe God and my husband, weren’t out to take them away from me, but to show me how to use them in an all-encompassing way. Maybe these passions weren’t just something I did, but were an intrinsic part of who God made me to be. And if they were a part of who I was, maybe they could be applied to my life and my roles in the home as much as they were in settings outside of the home.
I love to travel. I’m curious and interested in life, in learning new things. I realized I could learn more about cooking. I could help my daughter develop an equal interest in our world. I could invest in making our home the kind of place any traveler would feel comfortable stopping in for a rest.
I love to teach. Teachers are also learners. We enjoy the challenges of developing new skills as much as we love teaching new skills to others. I began to see how I could also apply this part of myself to my home.
I love to write. I’m a storyteller – a communicator. Our homes tell a story; they tell people who we are, what is important to us. Children have great imaginations. There is so much you can foster in a child by encouraging this part of them.
As my perspective on my God-given passions changed, so too did my perspective on housework and staying home with my kids. Being a wife and a mother does not define who I am, but who God made me to be defines the type of wife and mother I am.
These days, I work out my passions from home. I take care of my two (soon to be three) young daughters, serve as teacher to the oldest and manage my home far better than I ever have before (even though it is far from spotless). As far as my writing goes, rather than being stifled by home life, it has already expanded far beyond what I thought was possible when I was single. I have written entertainment articles for a news and media website, travel articles for an online travel magazine, and was even hired to write a youth fantasy series – the first book of which has already been published.
In letting go of my fear of losing myself, I have actually discovered so much more of who it is God made me to be. When I stopped seeing my passions as something I did and started seeing them as a part of who I had been created to be, I realized how much more valuable and all-encompassing they were. Wherever I am, I take myself with me, and the person God made me to be will be expressed in its own, unique way.
Jenny Fulton is a writer, educator, wife and mother with a passion for communicating truth through stories. She is currently working as a free-lance writer and is a collaborative author for the youth fantasy series, Invisible Battles (www.invisiblebattles.com). You can find more of her work at https://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=37392 and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook/writerJennyFulton.