I had just gotten the kids to sleep when I walked downtstairs into the kitchen. Dishes were scattered and stacked on the counter. A half-eaten hamburger was on one of the plates. Ketchup had dried on my son’s highchair tray. And sippy cups and bottles and a box of Lucky Charms.
Maybe if the day was a little easier, or my daughter didn’t cry for the last hour that we weren’t having movie night tonight (because we went to Daddy’s softball game instead), and I hadn’t just bathed the kids while she blubbered in the tub on and on, and if her baby brother could just be still during his diaper change, and not kick like a wild man, and turn the evening into a wrestling cage-match whence I try to attach a diaper on his naked wild bum–I would have had the strength. I would have had the joy.
But I didn’t.
It’s moments like this, with my messy kitchen when I start thinking about other moms. They must not have to deal with “this.” They must have it together. Tidy Mom probably has a system that she effortlessly brushes through her house and it’s always clean. (And I’m barely keeping up with the “Fly Lady’s” emails.) Or, Minimalist Mom, who I really aspire to be, and watched her webinar, probably only has like 3 dishes, so she never even has a stack of dishes, and when she does, she only has 3.
Fitness Mom probably has boundless energy from her work-outs and protein shakes, while I’m here wondering why my stomach is still squishy after 18 months post-partum. (Must be that darn ab separation.)
Have you ever tried parenting from the tread-mill? I tried today. I ran one full mile. Barely. Because my daughter kept diving on the excercise ball and crashing into the piano or the window, and I quickly learned yelling + running= instant cramps. So, about those abs.
As I stared at my messy kitchen tonight, just wanting to hide from it, I remembered a message I got from my Dad-in-law today. He said he was praying for me. And he said that he was proud of me. And he said, he was praying that whenever I felt stressed or scared–that I would remember to pray about it. And when I prayed, that my worries and fears wouldn’t steal my heart and mind anymore.
And so, I did. Right there in the kitchen tonight.
I just invited Jesus into my actual mess.
I asked Him for help. For strength. For love.
Because some days, like today, I run out of it. I’m bone dry.
And I’m reallizing, it’s not about perfection, it’s actually about imperfection.
And my plans and my goals and the woman I aspire to be–gets wildly wrecked every day.
But this makes me, it forces me, to lean harder into His grace.
And when I’m weak–He shows me how strong He is.
And tonight He helped me do the dishes, and wipe the counters, sweep the floors. In Him, I found the strength I didn’t have.
(And I also found the Triple Chocolate Geradelli brownies in the pantry. And this too, is grace.)
I thought I would be better at motherhood by now. I still run around like a mad woman. I still yell. I still cry. I still am bad at a lot of things. I still have to apologize to my husband for saying rude things. And to my kids. I get angry. I get grumpy. I have to start over a lot.
But for some reason, He loves me. Right here, right now.
He delights in me. And He is here. In my actual house.
In my actual life.
And He’s in yours.
He’s not waiting for you to achieve something, or be better than you are right now.
He’s not waiting for the Pinterest-you to emerge from the shadows and finish all the to-do lists you’ve ever written, and fulfill all the dreams of who you wanted to be.
He loves the real you.
(Something Satan does not want you to believe.)
It’s okay to struggle.
Because when we struggle we just have to lean harder into His grace.
And it’s our weakness that drives us to His strength.
There’s a story in the gospels where a Pharisee thanks God that he is not like “that sinner.” And talk about how great they are, how successful they are. (Something we hear a lot of on Social Media, right?)
But then, there is this other man. Completely broken before God. And he’s desperate. He prays a simple prayer, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Which man does God delight in more?
The broken one. A broken and contrite heart is what He delights in.
Isn’t this encouraging? I think so.
Because this is a prayer I can pray. And this prayer moves the heart of God.
You can keep chasing the “perfect” unattainable life. But your heart will become hard like a stone.
Or, you can love your actual life. Because it’s the one God gave you.
Love your actual energy level. Because it’s the energy God gave you.
Love your actual house. Because it’s the home God gave you.
Love your actual husband. Because it’s the man God gave you.
Love your actual kids. Because they are who God gave you.
You can love your actual body. Even your squishy belly. Because God made you. And you birthed out miracles through that belly. And would you trade them for the world?
See how Jesus wants to be invited into your actual life?
The one with dishes on the counters and crumbs in the highchair? And arms not big enough to hold all the laundry? And energy not big enough to pin down the toddler during the diaper change?
And a heart not big enough to hold all the love?
Because look around at the beautiful life He has given you.
Your actual life.
With cups on the counter and crumbs on the floor. Crumbs that stick to your bare feet.
Invite Him there. Right in the mess of it.
Jesus has walked through more than a trail of crumbs to get to you. He steps on serpents heads–and crushes them–to come close to you. He moves toward you, right there in your kitchen. When your heart is tempted to go a million miles away–because you want to be different than you are. And you think you need to be different than you are for Him to love you. When really, He invites to come right there in your brokeness, and just pray, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”
And you look up, and it’s like He’s standing with you barefoot in the crumbs.
Because He’s real, you know. And so are you.