I’ll Find My Niche Someday {The Grove}

Young and single. That was my first phase of life overseas. I remember sitting under a thatched roof, looking out over my misty little village in the Andes mountains. I was just a few months into my new life here. I was making friends, but there was this lonely ache in me like I had never known. “No one here really knows me…”

“Life overseas would be better if I had a partner,” I told myself, “a husband to do this with.” And then I went off to tube down the Amazon River, to hike volcanoes, to soak in hot springs, to throw my heart into street children, to live large and free.

For phase two, I was back overseas, this time with that partner. Together we figured out how to make a home and a life. Now when the hard days hit, I had a shoulder to cry on. I poured myself into my students, going on more outings than I could count, having all kinds of beautiful carpe diem moments with them. But when finals week rolled around and I had to sit behind that grading stack, I would think, “ I can’t wait until I can stay home and have babies.”

Phase three: the babies came, three big, roly-poly healthy babies within four and a half years. I’d lift the milk-drunk bundle to my shoulder, nuzzling creamy cheeks, breathing in baby scent and think, “This, this is what I’ve been waiting for.”

Mothering is the best… and the absolute worst. There were days I didn’t know how I could make it through one more sleepless night, one more spit-up soaked shirt, one more dinner made from scratch with a baby strapped to my chest and a toddler crying round my knees.

Making a difference outside the walls of my home felt laughable when I couldn’t even make a dent in the laundry pile. “Things will be better when they are a little older, when they can sleep through the night and wipe their own butts,” I told myself.

And now, lo and behold, we’re there. Or almost there. I’m still wiping one butt, but I’m sleeping through most nights. I’d say I’m officially in stage four, the one where I’ve got slightly older kids, the one where I’ve got a part-time ministry in addition to mothering.

So now I can find my niche, get in my groove. Right?

Except this homeschooling thing is crazy harder than I thought and I just lugged groceries home, how are we out of food already? And sorry, buddy, but Mommy is terrible at building Lego. And stop, get off your brother now. And no. more. arguing!

What I wouldn’t give for some alone time…

A few more years… that’s what I need.

Or not.

Because I’m not buying that lie anymore. (Women ahead of me in years nod their heads, because they know.)

Every phase of life is hard.

And every phase is beautiful.

Finding your niche is about learning to live in both, with feet in the hard and eyes on the beautiful.

My niche is not a mirage ever dangling in the distance. It’s here, today, right where I am in the messy middle of my beautiful hard.

It’s a heart thankful for the good that is there, all around.

It’s a recognition of how God has uniquely made me.

It’s an acceptance of my purposes for this season.

It’s a fulfillment in the completeness He has given me.

It’s the contentment that flows from all of this.

This is my niche.

 

When have you bought into the “someday” lie?

Where is your heart at in finding your niche?

*****

This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions.


Photo Source : Unsplash

36 Comments

  1. Melissa Toews January 15, 2015

    This describes me so perfectly I could have written it… except that I’m still in the “waking up at night with babies” stage. I think this is the number one thing that finally sank in last year and that I want to learn to walk in this year – contentment and learning to thrive right where I’m at. Even when it’s really hard!

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 15, 2015

      Melissa, this has been one of those sleep relapse weeks for my youngest, so I’m feeling again!  Here’s to thankfulness even/especially in the hard – something to learn again and again.

  2. Amy Young January 15, 2015

    Yes, this :). I don’t know how I got the idea that I’d arrive and missed the memo that life is a process of arriving. My new metaphor / paradigm is that life is a series of transitions. I have arrived and I am arriving. I grateful I’ve been able to find niches at each stage and location in life — some took more effort and creativity than others, but each helped me belong to a place and to myself 🙂

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 15, 2015

      Exactly!  The process of arriving.  There and not yet there. 😉

      And yes, some seasons require more effort and more creativity.  Some seasons are not as hard, and that’s good, something to receive and not feel guilty about.

      And I like that angle, that finding your niche is about belonging to a place and to yourself, who God’s made you to be.  Good definition.

    2. Elizabeth January 16, 2015

      Last week at A Life Overseas, Alece Ronzino talked about “Never arriving. Always becoming.” Hit me hard. So hard I wrote it in my journal. How I wish I could arrive. But no. And this year I am almost overwhelmed by all the areas of my life that need more becoming. And I welcome it, because I’m tired of being stuck in certain areas. But I also know that at the end of this year, I will still not have arrived. I will only have undergone what He wants for this season, with much more becoming planned and needed in the future.

  3. Kay Bruner January 15, 2015

    Just completely in love with this post!!!  <3

  4. Patty Stallings January 15, 2015

    So much wisdom packed into a few hundred words.

    This quote is going on my Facebook post today:

    Finding your niche is about learning to live in both, with feet in the hard and eyes on the beautiful.

    My niche is not a mirage ever dangling in the distance. It’s here, today, right where I am in the messy middle of my beautiful hard.

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 17, 2015

      Thanks, Patty.  I had a really rough night last night with my youngest.  In the way too early morning, I stumbled bleary eyed into the bathroom and stepped right in a puddle of pee on the ground.  (Someone hadn’t quite made it to the toilet in time during the night.) Sigh… but then I started laughing.  I was literally standing with my feet in the hard.  Somehow the irony of it was my beautiful.  🙂

      1. Patty Stallings January 17, 2015

        Big smile here!

  5. Monica January 15, 2015

    This is such a great post… describes so many of us!  I love how you said, “It’s an acceptance of my purposes for this season..”  Embracing where we are at can make all the difference!

     

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 17, 2015

      Yes!  It bring freedom to say this is for now, not for always.  And also not falling into comparison.  Just because it’s someone else’s purpose right now, doesn’t mean it should be mine.

      And “embrace” was my One Word last year, so I smile every time I see it. 🙂

  6. Elizabeth January 16, 2015

    Danielle, I so relate to the crazy hard of homeschooling. And of course, you’re writing for and managing Velvet Ashes as well. I have often told myself that I am not in “full time ministry” like my husband, because I am at home with the kids. I am not “paid” to do what I do. Only this week did I have this epiphany that I DO have a full time ministry — in both homeschooling and in writing. And that maybe I should be less hard on myself than I am. And that maybe my daily “hooks” of personal recharge time are not enough. And that maybe when my husband offers to watch the kids on a Saturday afternoon so I can go out somewhere and read, or write, or think, or whatnot, that maybe, just maybe, I should take him up on it. That I shouldn’t expect myself to be ok without that.

    My husband has taken “personal retreat days” for years. Not always monthly, but he tries to make it regular enough that he can refill his tank on several levels. I have always thought that was a privilege only for a full-timer, not for me, a wife at home who shouldn’t need that. (<———-do you see what I did there, placing unnecessary expectations on myself, expectations that I myself created??) And I only realized this while reading the book “Leading on Empty” (which was recommended to me by a friend recently, and which I also highly recommend). I couldn’t take my own husband’s advice! I had to read it in a book! I know, a bit slow on the uptake! LOL.

    I am not sure where this comment came from, or even how I got started on this thread in relation to your post, but I guess once I got going I just couldn’t stop the train of thought. I really do feel my niche is overseas, doing what I am doing. I don’t doubt that. I just have all these internal battles to fight regarding that niche. And that’s something I wouldn’t have expected. Also, sending you a private message now, regarding something else 🙂

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 17, 2015

      Elizabeth, so glad I’m not alone in finding homeschooling crazy hard.  And I have to say this: TAKE YOUR HUSBAND’S OFFER!!  Whew, sorry, didn’t mean to yell…  🙂  I can just so relate to your struggle, and to this line: “I shouldn’t expect myself to be ok without that.”

      Where did we (and I do mean “we”) buy into the line that we’re above needing rest, that rest and a break are a luxuries not necessities?  I used to feel guilty for resting, for getting a break from the kids.  And when I would take a break, my mind would just go into overdrive with all the things the I needed to do.

      Finally, my husband sort of forced me into it.  He said “this is what we’re doing.”  So now I take the kids for a half day, and he takes the kids for the other half.  Once a week this is our Sabbath.  It is SO life-giving.  (I’m not saying this is the formula for you.  Every family will have their own way.)  But now that this a part of my life I don’t know how I ever managed without it.  And on the weeks when it doesn’t happen, I don’t manage very well. 😉

      Girl, the work you do is the true hard work of ministry.  Here’s to giving our hard- working, homeschooling, mothering, writer souls a break!

      P.S. That book sounds so good. Will have to check that out.

    2. Monica January 17, 2015

      Elizabeth, I really appreciate your honesty in this post.  I remember when I first started homeschooling, 10 years ago, and I felt if I should stay on pace with my husband, and just keep going with all the other ministry stuff I was involved in.  I felt guilty accepting the whole idea of ‘just’ homeschooling my kids while overseas, and pulling away from other ‘important-Kingdom-work’ activities.  Oh what I would tell the younger version of myself now.  Three kids later, while piling on loads of ministry activities, while homeschooling (AND having kids in part-time local school), and taking on an organization role that required me to travel to teams in other parts of the country—NOT a good idea.  It led to one burnt out mama.  How I wish I would have embraced those earlier years with joy and no guilt.  I have eliminated the ‘JUST’ out of my vocabulary when it comes to being a mama, homeschooling kids, and doing life overseas. It is hard work and the biggest assignment we’ve been given as moms.  I have lots of regrets, but have turned those regrets into a catalyst for being a more present mom now…  I pray for balance and an un-rushed rhythm of life for our family now- I truly believe the Father can give us that when we prioritize well, and create margin in our lives.  I pray that for you too!

  7. Brittany January 16, 2015

    Me too!

    Yes, I’ve bought in to the lie of “someday”.  Nothing to add, I just stand in agreement with you, and thank you for the reminder.

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 17, 2015

      Thanks, Brittany.  Here’s to standing against the lie together!

  8. Leigha January 16, 2015

    I loved this. I am in a transition right in the middle of a move, and likewise with 3 littles in 4 years – but the youngest may soon be out of diapers so parenting is starting to look and feel much different than those earlier days. I’m desperate to enter that new stage and see what will become my niche in our new house and neighborhood! Yet this was a good reminder that God is working and I need to be present in these in-between phases too. I have a habit of looking past the now and wondering and waiting for what’s next. Thank you for this.

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 17, 2015

      Sounds like our kiddos are pretty close in age.  So looking forward to being done with diapers!  But not enough that I’ve actually starting potty-training. Ha!

      And oh, man.  When I am in the “in between” stage of transition, it is so hard!  I only feel in “my niche” when I’m settled, so when I’m not, I can’t wait to get there!  Patty Stallings told me years ago, that transition is like a river, we just want to keep our heads above water, and get across to the other side.  But God has something for us in the middle of the river.  It’s often in the middle, when our hearts are vulnerable that God does something in us.  And it’s been so true.

      Blessings on your move!

  9. Grace L January 16, 2015

    Only since being on the field have I been able to see and appreciate the many seasons of my life. Some years ago we developed a very close relationship with a young woman in the country where we serve. She became like a daughter to us, working in our business, living in our house, sharing meals. Oh how we all loved being together. But I knew that she would not stay with us forever. She was in her early 20’s and I knew that someday she would get married and have babies and move on in her life. It was a special season and I could treasure it knowing that this time we had with her was a season.

    I found myself looking back at other seasons in my life and being able to treasure them, knowing they were for a time. When I was in my 20’s or 30’s or 40’s, I don’t think I could see they as “seasons”. They were life with all the challenges and delights. But now at age 70 I can see them all in a different light, both the seasons of the past and the season I am in now. It is helping me to treasure the season I am in now, not knowing what the next one will be like, but trusting God for His plan.

     

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 17, 2015

      Grace, I just have to say I am so glad you are here, giving us the perspective of your 70 years!  So thankful for that, and for the reminder that we’ll never know what the next season will be like, that it always comes down to trusting God and His plan.

  10. Ashley Felder January 16, 2015

    I just started the newborn stage all over again. Love and dislike jumble together every moment. I’m doing my best to enjoy every moment this time, but when she hasn’t really slept for 7 hours and it’s already 2am, it’s hard. Dislike reigns. As this season rolls on, I’m curious what my ministry role will be as we move back to China. I have a feeling this semester will pass in a blur and my “ministry” will be making sure everyone stays alive…fed and semi-clean, and maybe learn something along the way. Kindergarten isn’t that important, right?! I hope to remember this post during those days of desperately wanting to do more, yet knowing I have 3 littles that need all of me, too. I do know, though, when the time comes that the littlest doesn’t need me every 3 hours, I’ll welcome the opportunity to serve and love outside my home. For now, may I embrace the diapers and endless cleaning! 🙂

    1. Grace L January 16, 2015

      Ashley, it seems to me that caring for little ones IS a ministry. I encourage you to let go of any thoughts of ministering outside your home and just dwell on the little ones that God has given you. In His time, He will show you the next steps. Enjoy the present as you are able and persevere through the difficulties with His help and grace. God loves you just where you are.

    2. Elizabeth January 16, 2015

      Ashley, I just want to reassure you that “kindergarten isn’t that important.” All your child needs for kindergarten can be condensed into half a year, so don’t worry a bit about your oldest! They catch up and catch on soon enough. And sometimes, delaying the learning just a few months makes it easier and faster anyway. (It is for that reason that I just skip home school preschool anymore.) So on that count, I just want to ease your mind. There is nothing I can do about the middle of the night wakings except say I’m so sorry! It is SO exhausting. But the kindergarten part, that will be just fine 🙂

    3. Monica January 17, 2015

      Enjoy this season… you never get it back again!  The Lord will bring you new opportunities when your heart is ready (even if you wish it was ‘now’ or ‘soon’).  From an ex-rusher:  “there’s no rush” (Smile)!

      1. Ashley Felder January 17, 2015

        Thanks for all the encouragement, ladies! Not rushing should probably be my main focus. I know my heart yearns to do more, and I often feel more alive when I can interact with someone older than 5, but I also know with a nursing baby, opportunities are limited. For the time being, I’ll enjoy the small interactions. 🙂

  11. Denise James January 16, 2015

    “Mothering is the best… and the absolute worst.” Isn’t that the truth! I have days where at the end of the day I think, “wow, I got a lot accomplished” and other days when I feel I barely kept the kids alive.  This is great reminder that I have now.  I’m never promised another day and I can’t stand around waiting.  Now is my appointed time…whether wiping butts, stumbling through another 1st grade reader or sharing the message of truth! 

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 17, 2015

      Oh, I am SO with you in stumbling through those 1st grade readers!  Haha.  But yes, exactly.  This is now.  This is the important, hard, glorious work of mothering.

  12. Phyllis January 17, 2015

    This article it right where I am, too. Kids are older, but homeschooling takes almost all my time and energy.

     

    As I’ve read the posts this week, I had a thought: my current niche (homeschool mom) now “on the field” is probably exactly the same as it would be in my original country. Location doesn’t change it at all for me.

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 17, 2015

      Yes, so on those days when the overseas challenges hit hard, it begs the question, “Why am I doing this HERE?”  And that’s when we have to lean hard in faith to His purposes.  Here to lean with you!

  13. Patty Stallings January 17, 2015

    Hey Moms of Little Ones, I’ve been reading your comments and remembering the days you are in now.  And this is what I know.  Ministry is so much more about who you ARE than what you DO. And who you are becoming is beautiful and so needed in this world.

    Faithfulness is built in doing the little things over and over again. Selflessness grows when no one sees the sacrifice.  Learning to love well happens when we choose to be present though we are tired, spent, bored, restless.  You are learning and living the single most significant aspect of ministry – to lean into His strength and depend on His wisdom and access His grace and patience.  These are not days of passive waiting on the sideline.  You are right in the middle of ministry.

    1. Monica January 17, 2015

      Oh Patty, beautifully said.  Thank you so much for speaking truth in such an encouraging and gentle way.

    2. Danielle Wheeler January 17, 2015

      Patty, your words are gold.  Copying this to my journal to come back to again and again.  Thank you for this.

  14. MaDonna January 20, 2015

    Thanks Danielle for your beautifully written post on the exact thing God has been weaving into my heart for the past few years…10 to be exact. My daughter has special needs, mentally disabled – and there are days that are really rough and overwhelming. I feel like I’m drowning in all her needs, just wishing for the next stage and knowing deep down that the next stage may never come….and fighting the battle of just being content with where God has me at this time in my life. Being content with the ministry that I have, which seems so so small and insignificant – compared to….yep that is what gets me comparing myself.

    Anyway, thanks for the encouragement today to live fully in this day that the Lord has given me. To not worry or be downcast because it is not what I wish it could be – but to be grateful for what it is, because I do have lots to be grateful for.

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