I am oh-so-thankful that I did.
If you are the mother of a little one, or plan to become one some day, I implore you to read "Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches" by Rachel Jankovic (find it here). I have devoured it over the last two days, and am almost finished.
There have been several parts that have spoken directly to me, but I was reading today during my lunch hour and my heart strings were pulled so tightly that I had to share with you, my two very loyal readers :) (forgive the length, but I felt it needed to be shared in its entirety...)
The world has a very muddled perception of "self." They think and tell us to think that we are all little separate entities who might need to go off somewhere to get to know "ourselves," or that a mother needs to get back to her corporate job to be herself again. Marriages break up because people don't know who they are anymore. They need to find themselves.
But the Christian view of self is very different, and you need to make sure that it is the one you have. We are like characters in a story. Our essential self is not back in the intro, waiting to be rediscovered. Who you are is where you are. When you are married, your essential self is married. As the story grows, so does your character. Your children change you into a different person. If you suddenly panic because it all happened so fast and now you don't recognize yourself, what you need is not time alone. What you need is your people. Look out -- look at the people who made you what you are -- your husband and your children. Study them. They are you. If you want to know yourself, concentrate on them.
Those women who try to find themselves by stripping away the "others" will find that they are a very broken little thing. This will lead them to resent the people who they think made them that way. She may say, "I used to be so energetic, but all these people take, take, take from me and now I have no time to just be me!" And the world gathers around and comforts her and says she needs some time to follow her dreams.
But the Christian woman needs to see, "I used to be so boring! Now my character has some depth, some people to love, some hardships to bear. Now I have some material to work with." A Christian woman's view is always forward and never back. Your identity is to be found and resting in other people.
This was so profound to me. I never thought about the fact that as we grow and change, our true selves do too. We don't each have a previous, better version of ourselves that somehow gets forgotten in all the mess of living. That person no longer exists, and I for one am very thankful for that truth.
I am honored to be Lance's wife and Andrew's mother. Those roles make me my true self. The person I was before was fine and dandy -- but God knew this time and place would come, and that I would be fully me by being full in them (and in Him). I hope and pray that I will have the honor to be the mother to more children someday, and when that happens I will become an even greater version of myself because I will get to know myself as their mother too.
I am so grateful for this book, and can't wait to see what other lessons God will reveal to me through its pages.