Her hands form dough, which she rolls into flatbread. She makes tea, every single day, with a sprinkle of cardamom or fennel.
That was not always the case. Once, a very long time ago, she was a teacher. And a writer. Once, many years ago, she won an award from a BBC writing contest.
But life’s circumstances brought a move across an ocean, to another continent. She had a one-year-old holding her hand while getting off the plane. One month later, another infant was born.
My mother did not speak English when she walked off that plane, holding my hand. She came to a country not knowing the language, knowing no one, completely dropping into a new culture and lifestyle.
She learned English by watching “I Love Lucy” on television in a small, sparsely furnished apartment in New Jersey. But, she did learn. I am not sure at what point one becomes assimilated into a culture, but at some point that also did happen.
If we must define ourselves by our work, then we are all left to an arbitrary definition of “work”, and the risk of a warped sense of worth.
All work is work, after all.
Work is valuable.
Work is honorable.
Work is meant to be.
Work is honest.
Work is dignity.
Work is good.
God meant us to work, whether it be pulling weeds, or pulling teeth, or pulling out tangles from a daughter’s long hair, as my mother used to do for me.
Learning a new language and a new culture took work. Learning to cook with different ingredients took work. Learning to survive in a new culture took work. Learning how to raise children in a new country took work.
She did not stop working. Her work simply changed. She did not return to teaching, although she did volunteer in school occasionally. She continues her writing, though it remains unpublished and unseen.
Who can say any of this is a less useful destiny than that of a CEO, or that of a teacher, or that of a doctor?
Some of us may continue in a particular type of work for most of our lives. For others of us, the work we do may change and vary. Our destiny to work, however, does not change. We all have that in common.
We find part of God’s purpose for us through that work. We worship Him through our work. We glorify Him through our work. He expands His kingdom through the work we humbly offer, as paltry as it may seem if assessed among worldly standards.
Rolling out flatbread is unlikely to win accolades from the world. Neither is making tea, or combing a child’s hair.
But it is honorable work. It is a destiny. And it is good.
Also sharing with Jennifer Dukes Lee for the #TellHisStory linkup.