Monday, October 14, 2013

Pedestals and Jelly Faces

I had a conversation this week with a mom of twins, a frayed, worn-out, stumped, hard loving mama. She has a boy and girl, about six. 

My oldest went to school with them and now my youngest go to school with them.

This mama has always adored my Eldest. She has made no bones that in her eyes, the sun rises and sets on her--she is perfect. Oh if she only knew...

Pedestals are dangerous things...

Her boy is challenging, being a boy, learning the art of boundaries.

I tell her my Eldest did the same--in fact still does--tests, challenges, manipulates, negotiates.

She tells me of course my Eldest doesn't do these things because she is perfect.

My eyes are saucers in a face of disbelief.

This heart worn mama continues: She has to be perfect. If she's not perfect, I have no hope.

Oh. Wow.

What is it about our mama's hearts that feel we have to compare and compete and calculate? What is it that makes us feel that if we aren't perfect then we aren't good? What is 'perfect' anyway? Because to be honest, what is perfect today probably won't work perfectly tomorrow.

I. am. baffled.

I would like this dear mama to come home and see our messy, our struggling through homework and spelling words and washing hands with soap AND water, our dirty faces and cluttered rooms, our laundry piles and book piles and piles on piles, our words, our playing nice or not playing, our temper tantrums, our lazy humdrum, and our ugly beautiful. There are no pedestals in my house. We'd fall right off.

I have only grace.

But for the grace of God I go, I live, I breathe.

Just Sunday, a woman from church smiled and hugged and said, "I just don't know how you do it."

To be honest, there are days I don't how I do it either.

But for the grace of God I go, I live, I breathe.

I find breathing is very important. When breathing stops, we have a big problem. If I can just breathe, then I can go on. One more breath, one more moment.

My life begins and ends there. It has to. What I have is because of Him and what I need is more of Him and what I want is to want Him more.

My kids are not perfect. They are kids. They are beautiful, laughing, messy, jelly-faced kids. And they are deeply loved, jelly faced and all.

I certainly won't win any mother of the year awards. I am broken just like we all are. And like a cracked pot, Jesus still shines through me because of grace. Admittedly, some days He shines brighter than others.

There are no gold stars, extra brownie points, retirement bonuses at the end of our mama-roads (do they really ever end?). There is only grace. There is only satisfaction of having done the best we could at the moment we could with what we had. There is only resting in the knowledge that tomorrow is a new day and His mercies are new every morning. There is only trust that God's forgiveness covers my transgressions, my impatience, my harsh words, my brokenness. That God's grace is made perfect in my weakness.

The last time I checked, I had no superpowers and my sparkly spandex superhero suit had gone missing (what a relief).

We can only be mamas together, bumping and stumbling and bumbling down this mama road together, as sisters. God fashioned us to be better together, in community. We women are peculiar though. What one day is a beautiful display of community and compassion can turn into a hurtful competition of one up-man-ship. Noone wins and we break each other because we don't want to see our own brokenness.

When our brokenness competes in an attempt to be whole, we only end up more broken.

There is no quicker end to genuine community than comparing and competing. We can't be heart true when our hearts aren't grateful. And isn't that the crux of comparing--thinking that the grass is greener, that someone else's road is more than your own, and not living in gratitude for the road you are on. And so we compare ourselves to others and build walls instead of bridges, fearful that we might not be as good or as smart or as patient or as affluent as that other mama with the perfect kids. When really, we are all mamas. And shouldn't that be the thing that binds us as women, as sisters. We all want the best for our children and to be the best for our children. We all want a place where we can be authentic, a soft place to land when we fall short, a gentle hand to grab when we feel like we are drowning in a sea of obligations, a compassionate ear to hear when we are weary-worn and tired, a loving heart to cheer us on when life just seems too hard. And aren't we the best kind of people to offer this to one another because we know...we know.

Perhaps us mamas can stumble humbly towards grace, leaning when we need a boost, holding when we have some extra, crying when our hearts are hurting, laughing when we need to heal. And together we are more than we are apart. And as mamas we know the truth:
                                There are no perfect mamas.
                                There are no perfect  children.
                                There are no perfect roads.
                                There are no perfect solutions.
                                There. is. only. perfect. grace.

Grace always rises,

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