I had an interesting conversation recently one Sunday morning with someone I was leading worship with. I told him something I say to people all the time. I shared that motherhood is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. His response was, “yes, but it’s the most fulfilling.” My response surprised him.
I said, “No. Not yet anyway.”
I didn’t have kids in order to bring fulfillment into my life. I already had that.
I had children because I wanted Ralph and I to stop living for ourselves. I wanted to participate with God in bringing life into this world in order to teach them about Jesus, raise them up to follow Him, and make an impact. I wanted to have a better understanding of who God is and knew that having children would do that.
Singing for Jesus brings forth my greatest feelings of satisfaction. That and acting is what I have loved doing since I was a little girl. It’s what I did before I had children every chance I could. As soon as I turned 18, I joined the choir at church. Two years later I joined the women’s praise team. Not too long after that, I was on the Sunday morning praise team. I was in a kids musical program in elementary school and participated in skits in my twenties. I was serving in this way three to four times a week and I loved just about every minute of it.
(First four images are at The Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville, NY.
The last two photos are from the team I am so grateful to be on now at Discovery Church in Orlando, FL)
When I was younger, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would’ve told you a singer and actress, but not a mother. When I was going into my senior year of high school, even though I still loved to sing and act, it didn’t seem realistic to me. I prayerfully reflected on what else I loved doing, which was photographing. That was what started me on my photography path.
Ralph and I were engaged when I went into photography school at nineteen years old. Though we had talked about having children someday, we were not interested in having any for the foreseeable future. I wanted to be a national wedding photographer and didn’t want children to get in the way of that. Ralph just didn’t want to have kids around because of the work involved.
After I graduated, in addition to all of the singing that I was doing at church, I was photographing. Multiple times a week I was doing portrait sessions and weddings. I absolutely loved meeting new people, traveling to different locations, designing wedding albums, and creating lifelong heirlooms for people (www.courtneycampbell.net).
Whether singing, acting, photographing, or designing, I knew that I loved to produce.
Producing with purpose is what brought satisfaction to me, but I knew that God wanted to do more with me. Two years into our marriage, I began to feel the tug from God to start a family with Ralph, but he was far from feeling that tug (That is a whole different story.). Five years into our marriage, at 26 years old, God answered my prayer in giving us our first son. While we were pregnant, Ralph and I agreed that we wanted to homeschool.
When our first son was born, the life I knew was over, but I hadn’t accepted that yet. I thought I could still do most everything else that I loved. Over time, as two more boys were added, I had to step down from just about all of it. Raising even one child requires a lot of time, commitment, and energy on every level. Homeschooling three is a whole 'nother level of commitment.
The definition of “fulfilling” in the Oxford Dictionary online says that it’s “making someone satisfied or happy because of fully developing their character or abilities.” Key phrase “FULLY developing their character.” My motherhood “character” is still being developed.
Having children refines and molds me to look more like my maker. It forces me to learn how to love, give grace, and forgive over and over and over and over. It challenges me to have a higher level of maturity in Christ because I have three souls under the age of 10 watching me practically non-stop.
Motherhood, paired with having them home and not in a school building, is very challenging for me many days. I am being stretched to my limit almost on a daily basis. I live in a constant tension between the convictions that come from being a mom and breaking free of it to produce something. If I don’t get to spend this desired time producing, I find myself becoming resentful and that’s not what my family needs either.
Whether I like it or not sometimes, my life is not my own anymore. I have chosen to die to many of my own desires, even ones that bring glory to God because what my children need NOW is more important than what I THINK I need. And if I can learn to die to myself, I look more like the one that died for me.
More than any other journey I’ve been on, the journey of motherhood is what has challenged me the most to model Jesus. This constant refining process has caused me at times to want to flee from the constant demands of motherhood and put them in a school building.
It would be a relief,
but it’s not what God has called me to do.
(Photo Credit: Liam Campbell at Santa's Farm, Eustis, FL)
So though it may not sound lovely or sweet to say that motherhood is not fulfilling for me, it’s just me over here being honest. My identity is not in motherhood, photography, leading worship, running an online business, writing, being a wife, or anything else that I do in my lifetime. My identity is in Christ and I was placed on this earth to point PEOPLE to him THROUGH the things I do and have been gifted in.
My main people right now are my children. Period.
The Oxford dictionary won’t say this, but living for your maker is what ultimately brings forth fulfillment. It just might not be through always doing everything that you love to do or feel like doing. Being a mother and choosing to homeschool, despite the constant tension I have to produce, is living for my maker.
Therefore, fulfillment will come.
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