When Life Feels Sour, Give

We can stop bean-counting the short-term results because we're giving with a long term purpose. http://wp.me/p2UZoK-BK via @blestbutstrestDo you ever feel as if your life consists of a hopeless round of rinse and repeat? A tree full of sour lemons? That no one notices the efforts you invest in other people’s lives? I confess to feeling this way a time or two—especially since I’ve invested myself in two careers that have long-term benefits and not short-term growth.

After teaching for six years, we made the decision that I would stay home with our girls (an infant and a toddler). Nothing can prepare a person for a career change—no matter how much I looked forward to spending quality time with our little ones during their formative years.

It seemed as if my life turned into an endless cycle of diapers (changing them, washing them, folding them, changing them again) and food preparation. I confess to feeling bored. And grumpy at times. After all, what toddler expresses appreciation for the hours of intense labor involved in her care? I often felt drained with nothing left to give my family.

Teaching can also seem unrewarding. Day after day of teaching the same subject to the same students who never gush and say, “Wow, Mrs. Ojeda! Thank you so much for helping me learn something new today!”

Sometimes, I feel like life consists of an endless cycle of explaining the same thing over and over again and students forgetting from day to day what they have learned and how to apply it in a new situation. I give and give and give and nothing seems to make a difference.

How easily I fell fall into the self-pity trap. Just because I don’t feel immediately rewarded for my efforts, I feel that what I do is in vain. But that’s backwards accounting in God’s eyes.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

It’s not about the short-term payoffs (those are like the whipped cream on pumpkin pie—they enhance our experience, but pumpkin pie tastes great without it)—it’s about our long-term purpose in life.

Our purpose in life is to give. And give. And give some more. Giving becomes an act of worship, a way of life that brings satisfaction because we know that our labor is not in vain when it’s in the service of God. We can stop bean-counting the short-term results because we’re giving with a long-term purpose. (tweet this)

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Sometimes, parenting feels like you have nothing left to give, but we always find a little more. Just a little extra and we find it in our love for them. Thank you for the reminder and we are all in this together. They will one day turn to you and say thank you, it’s just that they will be 26 and know how much grace you poured into them.

    • Amen! For awhile, I’m pretty sure my daughters both thought I was as dumb as mud. I’ve gotten a lot smarter and wiser in my (their) old age ;).

  • Giving truly is an act of worship, but how often I forget that. It is too easy to fall into the trap of giving so I can get. Booo! That is so not the way of Christ. Thank you for reminding me to give out of the overflow of what Jesus has done for me. BTW, I love the ‘rinse and repeat’ line. I so get that!
    Leah Adams recently posted…Five Minute Friday ~ GiveMy Profile

  • Donne

    That is a very easy trap to fall into. I try to keep the exhortation to “do all for the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:13) in mind as I go about my day. Thank you for the reminder that, even though we don’t see immediate results, our work will be fruitful in the end.

    • That’s a great companion verse to the one I used :).

      • Donne

        Great minds think alike?

  • I guess every season has cause for praise … and sometimes more than a few reasons that sometimes makes that praise a bit of a sacrifice.

    Thanksgiving blessings, lovely friend.
    Linda@Creekside recently posted…5 Exquisitely Random Late November MusingsMy Profile

  • Thanks for the excellent reminder! It’s not about the short-term payoff, but the long -term purpose. LOVE that!

  • I love that last paragraph. A great reminder of what we’ve already been giving by God. It is so easy to get caught up and feel like we aren’t appreciated. I know I too have sometimes felt that way.
    Tara recently posted…Gift Giving and Receiving (Five Minute Friday)My Profile

    • :)–and it’s so easy to feel unappreciated when one cares for someone who doesn’t feel or act thankful!

  • We have such a similar situation. I took a break from the classroom after seven years to stay home with my two little boys. I never really get a “thank you” from either of my boys (at least not too often) or my “kids” (what I call my students)…but by watching their actions and success is all the thanks I need. Oh, and hugs and kisses from my little guys. 🙂
    Amanda recently posted…Tough Books for Tough Little GuysMy Profile

    • It’s definitely a long-term investment! How wonderful that you get to stay home with your boys :).

  • Thank you! Thank you, thank you. I have been feeling this way, but I just figured I need to change my attitude. I needed to hear this.
    Messy Mom recently posted…Thanksgiving CardMy Profile

  • Lovely post (how do you write such long and well-argued posts in 5 minutes?!?!)….

    • I’ll confess to not finishing this one in five minutes–it took about an hour what with all the interruptions from the men getting reading to go out mountain biking, the neighbors brining their baby over for my daughter to babysit and the dog begging to have someone play with her. I think I actually wrote for about seven minutes…

  • Thank you SO much for going to the place so many fear to go – addressing some of the very true, yet not talked about emotions of the stay-at-home mom. I was in a full-time career before I made the SAHM transition…and I’m STILL adjusting! You hut the nail on the head with this friend! Thank you!
    Bethany Boring recently posted…You Give MeMy Profile

    • I always joked with my husband that I would gladly stay at home with the kids again–but that was only AFTER he was the stay-at-home dad for three years while I worked and he went to school in the evenings ;). Back then I just craved someone understanding just.how.hard.it was to go from seeing short-term results to changing dirty diapers.

  • “How easily I fall into the self-pity trap. Just because I don’t feel immediately rewarded for my efforts, I feel that what I do is in vain. But that’s backwards accounting in God’s eyes.”

    Uummmm, yes, me too…sometimes…not always. But there are times when I cry out for just a glimpse of HOPE that something I’m doing matters.

    Glimpses of Father’s recognition are sweet. My husband and I call them God stickers. He gives stickers more than we recognize and more than we need.

    So let me leave the pity party behind and trust every good work in His Name is an investment into His Kingdom and gives Glory to His Majesty!
    Lisa Brittain recently posted…My Prayer For You*November 30, 2014*My Profile

    • I LOVE that idea! ‘God stickers!’ It really is nice to get a sticker occasionally, isn’t it?!