I remember sitting in a “Mommy and Me” class with my child, then 1 year old. All the other moms talked about the cute things their child had been doing. They chatted about the latest sale at their favored clothing store. They shared all the fun activities they had enjoyed and places they had visited with their children. Dressed nicely with makeup on and their hair styled, these moms seemed all too perfect.
And then there was me.
I sat there listening to their conversation but never said a thing. What could I contribute? After all, my child seemed to have an allergy to sleeping, he never sat still, and I was too miserable to notice anything cute he might have done. I couldn't remember the last time I wore makeup, and it's quite possible I wore the same shirt two days in a row. And they certainly wouldn't care to hear that I spent most days crying because I was so exhausted from following after a child turned energizer bunny.
Not All Together
Many days as a mom, I feel like a loser. I wonder if I missed out on some key information or skill that other moms have. I don't have things all together. My kids seem to always be at each other's throats, as though they are practicing for some sort of ultimate fighting match. I never seem to be on time, and I can't remember the last time I dusted. My life feels more like a whirlwind than the way life is portrayed on the peaceful baby commercials where the mom spends her day snuggling with her giggling child.
I don't like to be a mess. I prefer my life orderly and under control. I want an organized calendar and a to-do list with black lines drawn through everything. I want children who listen the first time and a house where everything's picked up. I want to leave the house early for every appointment. Being weak and helpless is admitting failure.
Motherhood in America is about doing it all, having our cake and eating it too. But no one can do that. We try and pretend that everything is perfect. We cover up our failures with new purchases and fake smiles. But inside our heart breaks, and we wonder if we'll even make it through the day.
Where I Need to Be
But when I turn away from looking at other people's lives and look to Christ, I find that I am just where I need to be. Jesus said he didn't come to save those whose lives are perfect, but those whose lives are a mess. He came for sinners, for those who know things aren't as they should be. These were the people he dined with, healed, and walked among. He met them right where they were, messes and all.
The gospel is all about grace and receiving something we never earned. And only when I come to him helpless and weak am I ready for his grace. I have to come to Christ empty and broken before he can fill me. I have to admit that I am sick before I can be healed. I have to stop trying to do things in my own strength before he can be strong for me.
All too quickly, the years have passed since that mommy and me class. I've since given up on perfect. I faced the reality that I don't have it all together. Instead of trying to do it all, I've learned to let God manage my days. Rather than mother in my own strength, I parent through my weakness and on my knees. Each day I come before God, broken and helpless. I give him my messy life as a mother and receive in return the grace of the gospel. I've learned to embrace my weakness and messiness, not because my failures are good but because they open the door to God's grace. And I'd rather wear dirty clothes and have my hair a mess than pretend life is perfect. Because then I get to wear the best fashion—the priceless, perfectly white robes of righteousness belonging to my Savior.