I walked into the country club dining room clinging tightly to my husband's arm. I had agonized over what to wear and was thankful I had chosen very dressy over sort-of dressy as I scanned the sea of men and women wearing expensive formal wear.
What in the world was I doing here?
I didn't know anyone. I didn't have a highfalutin career and I had purchased nearly everything I was wearing at a thrift store.
"I'm just a mom," I kept thinking over and over.
I had been in this position before as the wife of a husband in corporate America. I had seen the blank stares when I said I stayed at home with our 6 children. I had shut down entire conversations with the words, "I homeschool." I was an anomaly and I would spend entire evenings trying to figure out how to convince people staying at home with my children hadn't dissolved my brain to mush. I even thought, "If I could just slip in the fact that I'm a writer and a conference speaker or that I have a degree in English, then I would gain a legitimate place in this gathering."
But, even when I did manage to mention my outside-the-home status, I didn't feel any better. I told myself I just didn't belong here. I was a second-class citizen in a first-class world and I would never fit in.
So, I gave up. I would sit there quietly and listen to office gossip, corporate politics, and a host of other things outside my realm of influence, never considering that I was sitting smack dab in the middle of my realm of influence.
You see, every time I say, "I stay at home with my 6 children," I hear some form of disparaging remarks about children being awful and irritating and how I must be a saint or super woman. Usually I just smile and move on.
But what does that say?
It says only the most amazingly patient and organized woman could ever do this job. Letting others believe a lie like that is doing a tremendous disservice to myself and the women around me. Worst of all, it ignores God's mercy and grace in my life.
So, as I sat at that beautifully decorated country club table amongst women who had never stayed home with their children fielding questions about being organized and patient, I took a leap of faith. Instead of my customary embarrassed smile, I said,
"Many people assume I am super patient and highly organized and that's the only reason I can do this, but I'm not any more patient than anyone else. I do this by God's grace. I couldn't do it any other way."
The truth is I don't belong here.
No Christian truly belongs here. I live this life as a testimony to the Lord. Rather than wondering whether or not I fit in, I should be wondering if I am being the hands and feet of Christ. I should be wondering if my words and actions match my faith. I should be wondering if people see God's perfect peace and unfailing mercy being lived out daily in the life of "just a mom."