I read a few fantastic articles today. One was from the fabulous Lisa-Jo Baker on dealing with anger as a mom. The other was a hilarious and honest expose’ on the state of a home full of little people from Elizabeth at City Moms Blog.
As I sat in the Chick-Fil-A drive thru for the third…okay fourth time this week, I scrolled through the latter article on my phone and waited for our french fries that I was praying would pacify very ticked off, tired, and hungry children who were sick of being stuck in the back of the house while their daddy finished staining and sealing our new kitchen table. *Disclaimer -That makes us sound way more glamorous than we are. We aren’t a Pioneer Woman household in the least. Yes, he built our table. He also started it two months ago and it has been sitting in our dining room half finished with a tablecloth over it and a gaping hole on one uncompleted end until last night. It’s been fought over quite a bit, and the top has been reconstructed twice. So don’t start thinking we have our shit together – we totally don’t, and that’s the point of this article.*
The blatant honesty of both articles hit me in a very vulnerable place. These are the two biggest insecurities I have about myself as a woman and mother. They are closely followed by my abysmal time management skills and tendency toward overwhelm that causes me to rely on my husband often for things that should be “mom jobs”. I often struggle with things that I am somehow convinced mothers should not struggle with. That good southern, church-going women should not struggle with. Like having a temper, being a terrible housekeeper, having a bit of “mouth”, being oblivious to the clock, and not being able to ‘do-it-all’ or even half of “it all” like a good Christian mother “should”. However, I’m slowly realizing that the shoulds and the facades are all just a great, big fat lie we tell to cover how screwed up and insecure we all are.
I started thinking about a fantastic book I had been reading called Table Life: Embracing the Hospitality of Jesus in Your Home. In it, Joanne Thompson discusses right there in the first chapter how we allow ourselves to be held back from enjoying the joy of sharing our homes with others because we are paralyzed by perfection. She talks about hospitality as an act of faith, not of natural ability. She talks about how we should never allow a messy house, limited culinary skills or awkward social graces to hinder us in inviting our brothers and sisters to share in the gifts of our home and our table.
I know I’m bouncing all over the place here, but I promise all of these converge, and here’s where it happens: Jesus comes to us right in the middle of our mess. He loves us there, He invites us to share our mess with Him. We should do the same for one another. Whether that messiness is in our homes, our hearts, or – most likely – in multiple areas of our lives, we can only come together and lift one another up when we are willing to show others our messiness and love others in theirs. Our vulnerability is a chance for God to showcase His strength and His sufficiency.
While we are at it, let’s just agree to take the judgey pants off once and for all. Let’s stop assuming others always have theirs on. Most of the times, no one is judging you. In fact, when another mom sees you in the middle of your mess, she’s just feeling better knowing that she’s not alone, even if she isn’t willing to say it or show it. Because she hiding behind a mask she’s afraid to take down, just like you are. She’s afraid for you to see her mess. Because deep down, she doesn’t really believe yours is as messy. She doesn’t believe you”ll still look at her the same once you see it.
Deep down, we all fear this. How many times have you take an adorable picture of your kids that you didn’t share on social media because they are standing in front of a mountain of who-knows-what. We all have. But it’s time to be real. It’s time to be genuine. It’s time to peel off the masks and love each other right where we are. Because we need each other, even when we don’t want to admit it. We aren’t islands. We aren’t meant to be.
So from here on out, I’m going to make the most of my mess. I don’t mean I’m going to just quit trying, though there are days I want to throw in the towel before I’m even out of bed. Rather, I’m going to keep doing my best and let the rest go. I’m going to fling my door open wide to whatever friends are brave enough to venture to it and say “You know what? Yes, their is crayon on the walls. Yes, there are dishes in the sink and Lord know where else. Yes, you’ll probably have to kick a few – okay, more than a few – toys out of your way. No, I can’t even tell you the last time I considered the state of my baseboards. I’ve yelled today, I’ve cursed, and I burned the dinner because I got distracted on Facebook. But you know what? You are welcome here. This is my mess. This is my reality. Now let me show you my heart. Let me love you. Let me share the sweetness of my Jesus with you. Because he is here, in this mess, He is the one holding my hand, whispering in my ear that He loves me and that I can rest in His grace when I’m not enough. Because I’ll never be enough. None of us will. And that’s awfully good news that we don’t have to be.
Now, let’s order a pizza and share our mess.”