My husband and I drive vehicles built in 2004. We’re still living in our 5-year starter home–18 years and counting. We work hard and dream big and pay our bills on time. But those bills have never included brand new cars or Paris vacations or an inground pool. (I really want an inground pool.)
Let’s just say between the Dollar Tree and Saks Fifth Ave, we’re more of a Target kind of family. Yet I've never felt richer.
This morning I drove my 14-year-old daughter to school after an orthodontist appointment. She flashed her sparkly new, no-braces smile, and I caught a glimpse of this same beautiful girl at age 7. The sweet younger face inside a now lovely teen, this maturing daughter companion of mine who loves to shop and sip Starbucks as much as I do. She is so stunning, my heart aches.
Nine weeks from now she will graduate from the school she has known since age 4. For me, it’s been a 10-year process of raising her up and letting her go slowly, steadily, ever since preschool, kindergarten, middle school locker territory, her first youth group retreats, and summer camps. Always growing, changing, learning, becoming more of the person God designed, foreknew, fashioned from the beginning of time.
Oh, I’m talking about me—and her, too, I suppose. It’s been a growing up process for both of us. And now high school looms. And I wonder, how much of her childhood have I spent worrying, wondering what’s coming next, trying to build a business and a brand and a family at the same time. Working, working, always working so hard—my husband and me both—to provide for our children, to ensure Christmas and birthday presents were plentiful, to give our girls everything they need and a whole lot of what they want (within reason, of course). All the while sacrificing for them. Praying for them. Fretting over them. Driving our outdated cars and painting over last decade’s kitchen colors here in this house that still does not love me some granite countertops.
And can I tell you what I realized today? What I’ve known all along but I finally saw face to face in the car on this morning’s drive to school?
My wealth is not in my possessions. It’s in my people.
Because I’ve got my paycheck right here. In the passenger seat. In the glow of a ginger ponytail, the laughter and heart and soul of a daughter I’ve had the privilege to see transformed before my eyes—from a wailing infant, sassy toddler, year after year of school art projects and math tests and field trips—into this young woman who now wears my shoe size and borrows my best jeans. And I get to experience this phenomenon in double doses because a little sister is coming up right behind, my now 11-year-old science wiz who wants to know how the universe runs and is memorizing Latin names for every mammal in North America.
These children aren’t just precious. they’re holy. They were created by and for a loving God who designed them for me, their mother, a flawed human so undeserving of a daughter’s love. Yet so grateful for its bounty.
Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” My children. Their love for me. Their love for Jesus. Their unique personalities and potential. It’s all a gift I get to experience.
And the same is true for you.
Your children—they’re holy, too—regardless of the challenges they present. (Oh yes! My family has challenges! All sinners do.)
But do you see I’m choosing not to focus on the flaws or frustrations today? On what it costs to raise a child and send her off to high school and club sports and college? I’m not thinking about the rolling eyeballs or the emotional drama or the messed-up world our kids are walking toward.
Because the beauty of the gift outshines it all. I saw it in the car today. I saw it. My relationship with my child. Who she is and who she is becoming. And it’s so much more valuable than any worldly measure.
So, if it’s been a hard season in your household. If you’re wondering what happens next, how will God provide, when will you break through, or how will the business grow. You’re already so much richer than you realize. The measure of a mother’s wealth is not in what she does or where she works or who knows her name. It’s in the depth of God’s love poured out on us every single stinking day—through His Spirit, and through the children, He entrusted us to raise.
Go and hug yours today. It’s paycheck time.