Last weekend, the Holy Spirit revealed a purpose of parenthood for me — reclaiming connection, awareness, stillness, and the glory of God through the outdoors.
Even 5 years ago I didn’t love the outdoors. I DID like the 70-degree-sunny-no-humidity days that exist in San Diego, or Fort Collins. But those days were rare in both Illinois and Minnesota. Most days are super cold, or slushy, or humid, or windy, or rainy. As a working adult, I just didn’t choose to spend an excessive amount of times outdoors apart from the occasional walk, or game of tennis, or bike ride with my husband.
Fast forward several years. We wrestled with God why should we even consider having a child, and then why to have a second child. We waited for His (almost literal) audible voice before saying yes. And it was a constant revelation of “To understand God more. To be more like Jesus. To be less selfish. Because we have more love to give.”
Last week while we were on the kayaks, I continuously noticed the sunlight streaming through the trees on the bank while we floated in the water. Yes, it was the perfect 70-degrees-no-humidity-no-wind, and a few fluffy clouds in the sky. The PERFECT set up for my soul to hear God.
This. This is me. This is another reason you needed children. To notice me in creation. To get you outside. Calm. Stillness. Me.
I almost gasped outloud. The voice was so clear and loud.
I also knew that voice. That voice and sense and sound of it I can’t describe, but it has happened multiple times in the past. And it’s always the Spirit telling me something profound.
It’s true. Without kids, I would never would have been on the lakes as much as I have the last 3 months. I never would have biked miles to libraries and parks and lakes every week. I never would have gotten ice skates to enjoy with our kids. I would not have played in the rain, or sat on a beach in hot muggy weather, or attempt hiking with toddlers to see butterflies and flowers. I would not have had so many sweaty shirts, or messy hair, or bug bites, or burns, or sand stuck in my shoes, or lake-scented shorts.
Parenthood forces constant selfless choices to keep a baby and toddler alive. And while Ethan is probably old enough to finally keep himself alive (almost)…..I still constantly have selfless moments with him. And most of his joy is being outside. And where he is, I am.
Enter God’s tender humor.
The irony in all of this, is some would say parents, especially mothers, reject their own self-care in caring for young children. That we are too selfless. I would agree that is easy to become true. But in this case, in my selfless act in being constantly outside with my children — God actually has used those moments to RECHARGE my spirit and my soul. Because I can hear him. With the outside, you hear leaves crunching under your feet, or the sound of ice skating, or the trees blowing while biking.
Mountains. Lakes. Paths. Stars. Trees. Snow. Rain. Flowers. Leaves. The natural elements have NOTHING to do with us. We have NO CONTROL over these things. Which is why it can makes us feel so small – in a comforting way. Knowing God created it, he controls it. How much more does He abundantly care for me?!
When you are outside in nature, there is very little noise other than the noise God has created. There is something about nature that makes us feel connected, and still.
So there you have it. Another echo that was so loud, I immediately smiled. Knowing God dropped the veil to speak to me, through being a parent, to the renewed beauty and connection of God in the outdoors.