Finding God in the Mommy Mess

Tonight I stood in the kitchen in the house where I grew up and made salmon patties and thought about my mom. After I called my mom to ask her about her salmon patties. ‘Cause 32 year old mothers of five definitely still do that. Motherhood has been on my heart, not really because of the upcoming holiday, but because of where my heart has been. You know how babies go through growth spurts where they eat and eat and sleep and sleep as they take on inches or pounds in a short period of time? I feel I am there as a mother right now. I am craving more growth, more gentleness, more consistency, more follow-through, and, oh Father, more grace. I am running from formulas and seeking out Spirit-led mentoring, I am sensing that my years are flying and that, like those short nights of sleep, I will not feel they have been long enough. I am desperately looking for more ways to simply mirror Christ to my children because while I might question their diet, habits, learning, involvement, or any other number of pieces in their little puzzles, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that what they need is more Christ.

As I was reading and praying this morning something really struck my spirit and I began to think. Since the beginning of time, the enemy has been deceiving mankind with the same, old lie. I can’t believe we haven’t wised up and made him get a new one, but we haven’t. And he does it to mothers too. And even in our heart’s cry to be better mothers, we buy into tiny bits and pieces of his story. We begin listening to those whispers that if we will just pant after that forbidden fruit, which is anything except constantly walking with God, where He has placed us, then we will be wiser, better, more like God. He turns and twists the very desire God placed into our heart into something that distracts us from the Creator of that desire! We believe that if we can just “get it right,” or “have it together,” or be happy, fun, beautiful, rested, decorated, gourmet, etc. then we will be the mothers God wants us to be. We will be more like Him. So as I sat there, right before my one year old started screaming and then I fed my kids too late after everyone was already ravenously hungry, I thought to myself that I wanted to whisper a few things to you this week. This is probably being said in many places since I haven’t read a blog in a while, but God laid it on my heart to say it again to you here.

Don’t believe it. You will not be more like God when you finally reach that fruit of perfection that you can’t seem to grasp. When you finally arrive at that goal that you can’t seem to achieve. You, sweet mother, are like God when you do these things:

You’ve just lowered your weary self into bed and prepared to snatch some sleep while your mind keeps racing to all the things you didn’t get done today. Right as your head hits the pillow, you hear the cries of your baby. You think, “You are kidding me!” and then you get up, walk to that bed, pick up that sweet one and show her that mommy is right there. It is not because you have all the answers to sleep training and rest for your family that you are showing God to your babies, it is simply because you are there, training those hearts that God is available when they cry out, even in the night. –Psalm 121

You know that a kitchen full of dirty dishes is waiting for you once everyone is in bed. Not time to yourself but a to-do list the size of the Empire State Building. Your eyes are blurry, but that’s okay because you have this mentally stimulating book completely memorized…but you still read Green Eggs and Ham one. more. time. Because he loves it and you love him. You are not showing God to your babies because the book chosen will develop an Einstein brain, a Spurgeon zeal, and an Aylward heart. No, you are showing God because that small one isn’t really hearing, “I am Sam. Sam I am.” over and over. He is hearing, “I am loved. Loved I am.” – Psalm 16

You bathe the vomiting little one, take all the appropriate precautions to protect other children, prepare yourself for a tough night, place the big bowl by the bed covered in a towel, rub the sweet face, do your best to soothe the upset tummy, start the laundry, lay there until the tiny, suffering one is resting, stumble your weary, smelly self down the hall…and then go outside to clean puke out of the car seat. Because you are not showing God to your babies because your diet is so perfect and your health precautions so strategic that no illness ever dares to show its face in your home. No, you are showing God because is He not the beautiful Redeemer of messes, the Cleaner of our vomit, the Healer of our mistakes? Precious, Loving One. – Psalm 103

You put another load of laundry in the washer, in the dryer, you bless the person who invited the washing machine and curse Adam and Eve for shutting down nakedness as an option. You fold, and fold, and fold, and imagine that someday we will throw clothes in a hamper and they will somehow get clean and back in their drawers. You pretend that the pile of ironing is not taller than your toddler and wonder if body odor on clothing is really quite as bad as we act like it is. You wish that there was one job in all of mothering that stayed done for, I don’t know, fifteen minutes. You are not showing God to your family because it is all done and perfect. Because they never have to hunt for clean underwear or wonder if they still own that button-down that is probably outgrown at the bottom of Mount Wrinkled. You are showing God to them because they see you in the process of serving. Because sometimes we wash the feet and sometimes we launder the socks that go on the feet 9,878 times. – John 13:12-17

You wash another dish, kiss another face, bandage another knee, dry another tear, answer another question, walk another mile, and wonder why you can’t “succeed” when the success is happening right inside your heart and right inside of theirs. You know how I stood in the kitchen and made salmon patties while I thought about my mom? I can’t remember what she said to me on those particular days. What happened specifically. I know she was there. I know she cooked food for me. I know she was my mother. Success. Win. Enough. Why do we let the tempting hiss of the serpent become louder than the comforting lullaby of the Savior who has declared our efforts ENOUGH through His grace and mercy! And because we are all sitting here doing what mothers do and finding a new reason to beat ourselves up because we’ve been beating ourselves up, hold this verse close to your heart today:

I am the Lord, your Holy One,
Israel’s Creator and King.
16 I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters,
making a dry path through the sea.
17 I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
with all its chariots and horses.
I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned,
their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.

18 “But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
the jackals and owls, too,
for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
so my chosen people can be refreshed.
21 I have made Israel for myself,
and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

Isaiah 43:18-21

Over and over He told Israel all that He would do for them if they would do one, simple thing.

Put Him first.

And we stretch for that dangling fruit of perfection when all the while He waits for us in the vomiting, wrinkled, dirty, unshowered, difficult, endless mess that is life. Beautiful life. I am ready to refuse the stress that will alienate my children from the grace of God and instead accept the grace He offers that will draw their hearts like moths to a lantern. I will always be trying to do better. To schedule, to be healthy, to be more efficient and productive. Always. Because He’s given me a job to do and I will die trying to do it well. But in that trying I will also be resting in the fact that the God they see is not in what I do but in the One I reflect to them.

Happy Mother’s Day, beloved ones. Whether today is Pinterest Mommy or Comic Strip Mommy, just revel in the fact that today is one more opportunity for His strength to be made perfect in our weakness. Let’s watch Him make rivers in the wasteland so that the whole world will honor Him.

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