I do not recall wearing many different hats ever. I only used them while travelling in some hot countries. Of course, I couldn’t survive without one during our Missions Discipleship Training in South Africa. Not just to protect myself against the sun in the desert, but also to cover my hair on bad-hair-days during long outreaches without comfortable showers.
These days I only count one hat in my wardrobe. Nevertheless I have the feeling that I am changing hats all the time. My different roles make me do so.
Of course our roles change and increase as we grow up. Back home I had different roles, but it seems they were separated more clearly, while now they overlap a lot.
Let me picture my life before coming to the field…
Without thinking about it I would have my ‘wife-hat’ and ‘mom-hat’ ready next to my bed. As Mark was at work the ‘wife-hat’ would be less visible while the ‘mom-hat’ would merge together with my ‘housewife-hat’. Both of these would be jumping up and down as the children’s music echoed in the living room. They would fly away to be picked up by the boys while doing the shopping by bike. They would have spots of paint on them during times of art. I would grasp my ‘friend-hat’ as my friend came with her kids to play and drink tea. The days I went to work I took my ‘good-colleague-hat’, the hours I went to volleyball I had my ‘sports-hat’, but as soon I was home my ‘mom-and-wife-hat’ were there again. Of course it is never as black and white…but times were more structured for sure.
Today it is different. Although I count only one hat in my wardrobe these days, I actually have a whole collection of another nature. Here a selection of the many:
‘wife-hat’, ‘mom-of-teens-hat’, ‘mom-of-a-preteen-hat’, ‘primary-school-teacher-hat’, ‘school-coach-hat’, ‘mentor-hat’, ‘friend-hat’, ‘teammate-hat’, ‘reaching-out-to-people-hat’, ‘youth-group-leader-hat’, ‘part-of-the-field-leadership-team-hat’, ‘jump-in-the-gap-hat’ and many more…
Seeing all the colours can make you want to dress up. You try one, take it off and take a new one.
In my life, changing hats happens often and quick. Times are not clearly set and are not always known beforehand. Almost every hat asks for a different approach; a different tone and way of speaking—sometimes even a different language. Sometimes it is fun. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes it works well, other times I fail. To be more aware of my different roles, and how they can change over the day, makes a huge difference in if, and how, I succeed.
I have experienced that as the amount of hats increase, some basic rules are important:
I need to be more conscious with setting times.
Some of my roles may overlap for a while or even merge together. But at times I need to stick to one hat and keep myself from taking another one at the same time.
Sometimes my hat needs to be seen by people/my children, other times it is okay when it is just me who knows.
I need to remind myself that I am created by God and built for a purpose.
These guidelines help me to be more focused, to say ‘no’ if needed, experience peace and keep enjoying the different hats.
As I started this new season, with my known hats and some new ones, God gave me this verse:
“…that you may walk worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, for all endurance and perseverance with joy;” – Colossians 1:10-11 (World English Bible) (emphasis mine)
I feel encouraged. It is not me doing it, God will strengthen me with His power, to all patience and perseverance. And this with joy! Yes, I want to dress myself with different hats and I want to enjoy them.
Loïs and Mark dreamt about travelling the world in a VW-van, but God asked them if they were willing to go to “the ones who will not hear if nobody goes.” They, with their three sons, live among the Turks.