I remember when I was first married. I was so proud of myself when I got dinner on the table. Even if it were just spaghetti with bottled sauce and french bread from the store. I may or may not have had a vegetable to go with the meal. It didn’t matter; I made dinner!
Then we added our first child, Elle. And I would be so proud of myself if I could get out the door by 10:00 AM with both of us dressed and fed. And I felt an extra burst of pride if I were a few minutes early or if the diaper bag was stocked with all the necessities.
Fast forward 15 years and my expectation is different.
Take that same spaghetti dinner. Now I only feel pride if the noodles are 100% whole wheat. If the sauce is canned from my home grown tomatoes. And instead of french bread, I substitute two veggies in the carbs place. Plus I have the meal ready right as dad walks in the door from work and the whole family sits down together to eat.
And last week I was pretty proud of myself when I got out the door by 9:15 AM with myself and 4 kids dressed and ready to go. 4 packed lunches in hand. Homework in backpacks. All beds were made and chores were done. Piano was even practiced and family scriptures were read. The house was tidy and put together. A homemade healthy breakfast was served and dishes were cleaned up too. A load of laundry was started. Zones were checked. And I never even raised my voice.
That morning I reflected on how much my capacity has grown over the years from a newlywed or first time mom. I could do things now that I never could have pulled off before. I wondered if I were expecting too much of myself now and I should go back to the days when a noodles and meat were enough or just getting out of the house excited me. Maybe I should cut myself some slack?
I decided no, I shouldn’t go back. Where much is given much is expected.
I have been blessed with time and energy and an inquiring mind over the years and with those blessings I am expected to increase my capacity. Not only does God help me to grow and stretch and learn as wife and mother, but He expects it. To be less, do less, or expect less would be shrinking to a smaller time.
And when you know your capacity and you achieve under it, you can’t fake the feeling of satisfaction no matter what you tell yourself.
I don’t think God wants us to beat ourselves up if we are less than perfect and I don’t think he wants us to run ourselves into the ground trying to keep up with someone else’s capacity. All of us have different volumes on different days. But I do think he wants us to meet OUR fullest potential. I think he wants us to increase OUR capacity — so we can see what we are really capable of — so we can have those moments of pride in where we have been and where we are now. He wants to help us get there- baby steps at a time.
Growth is the point after all.
And this idea of increased capacity gives me hope. Maybe the things I struggle with now will one day be easy– like fasting, exercise or my new calling.
I just got asked to work with the teenage girls in our area (Stake Young Women’s 2nd Counselor). My capacity to work with teenagers is small at this point and overwhelming. Right now I am proud of myself if I can just say ‘Hi’ to one of them and the thought of planning Girls Camp for hundreds of girls in less than 3 months puts me in the fetal position. But I am confident that if I do my best and work to learn my responsibilities and include God in my task, my capacity will increase to meet my responsibilities. I will look back and see my growth.
And you will too. Whether it is adding another baby, starting a new job, becoming a single mom, transitioning from processed foods to real food, starting an exercise program, or any other challenges you face, with consistent, diligent effort, you will grow and rise up to handle your load. Your capacity will increase and you will look back and see your growth.