Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When Mothering is Made Ugly

There are days when mothering is the picture of what you dreamed it would be:
Bare toes dangling above the floor, messed hair, sleepy eyes, rosy cheeks that smile at you from behind fork-fulls of pancakes.
A couch full of littles all snuggled up against you, reading stories full of adventure. Listening to their giggles.
Sweet conversations about grace and forgiveness and the fresh snow all over the steam of hot cocoa.

And then there are other days. Days that make you question God's judgement in making you a mother in the first place. Days that feel upside down and inside out.
Days when mothers and children are made ugly by sin.

It's those days that look nothing like what you dreamed it would, you see yourself ugly in sin...
A sharp tongue when milk is spilled.
A harsh word when you've been asked the same question for the millionth time.
A defeated look on a little face as you lose control over the wet towels strewn on the bathroom floor.

Suddenly, that reflection is not who you thought it would be.
You step back and your heart breaks ... again ... because in that moment you lost grace.

And days when you realize your children are just as ugly in sin as you are...
Eyes flashing full of white hot anger, staring you down, screaming at you in ways that you never thought could come from an eight year old.
Flights of markers and paper and pencils as you battle attitudes and heart struggles.
Lies of the enemy poured out from mouths so young and innocent you never imagined they could live there. 
Lies that say, "I'm not good enough," "I'm not perfect," "I can't do it right," "I feel empty inside."   

And you stare in amazement at the little thing of a person and wonder who they are, who this is sitting before you. 
Rampant thoughts of, "this isn't my child!" "we taught her better than this!" "I don't know where this is coming from," run through your mind.
And you whisper in desperation, "Lord, what do I do here? I'm so ... lost."

And your heart breaks for your child.
And you are slapped in the face by the enemy as you realize that the spiritual battle is real.
And it's in your living room.

That sweet picture of what mothering would be like is no where to be found on these days, in these moments. You sit breathless, watching your child helplessly wrestle against an invisible foe and you wonder how you forgot that you're in the middle of a war; that the fight never stops; that when things are going right it's easy to lose sight of exactly who you are fighting against.
Then the battle breaks open in front of you and you are reminded.

These days, these are the trenches
Where you suddenly find yourself digging your way through tunnels of mud and muck and it's hard to move.
It's hard to breathe.
It's hard to see your way out.
Maybe you've found yourself there today; maybe you've been living there for a few years and you're in so deep you've forgotten that there's a life outside of the trenches.

When you look around you and all you see is dirt...
 and then ... look up.
Even if just for a moment, look up.
When we are surrounded by the ugliness of the mud and mire and muck we forget that there is a sun, but when we look up we can catch a glimpse of the One who designed us for these moments. The One who designed us for these children, specifically. The One who shaped their little hearts to be intertwined so perfectly with ours.
When we look up, we always receive a glimpse of His light.  
And in that light you are reminded of Who you are fighting for and just Who is fighting for you. And there is beauty in that moment. Even if you're sitting in the mud.

See, we are all broken by sin. 
We are born into sin, born with sin.
When our moments are full of smiles and snuggles and stories it's so easy to lose the truth that we will all falter, we will all lose control at some point, we will all make a wrong choice in a moment of frustration ... or pain ... or confusion. 
And our children will too. 
Over and over and over again.
These littles, they don't yet have the armor to fight their way through these battles. That's what the trenches are for.
It's in the trenches that strong hearts are forged, quivering knees become sturdy, and weak hands become strong. It's in the trenches that we are able to lose ourselves and surrender to God all that is His. 
These hearts, these knees, these hands ... they are His. 
And through my surrender of control, He comes alongside and covers all my gaps with 
His grace.
This is where sin and ugliness collide with redemption's kiss and beauty is made. 
Beauty from the ugliness.

It is on the worst days that I feel the most defeated, the most unprepared, the most inadequate, the most lost.
I wonder how He thought I would be able to handle this, mother this child, prepare these hearts for life and love and loss and all that is to come ...
But it is also on these days where I see the truth of His grace. 
For me. For my child. 
This is where He reminds me that I'm never enough. 
I will never be enough. 
I will never be prepared enough or have wisdom enough.
It's on these days where I'm driven to my knees and it's there that He meets me in my mess.
And it is in this mess, this brokenness, where I find forgiveness.

He reminds me that in Him, I have innumerable second chances. 
He reminds me that He is sufficient; 
that He will strengthen my weak knees and give me a new grip with my tired hands.  
That when I'm on my knees my children can more clearly see HIM.

And I lean into Him

1 comment:

Sara K. said...

I can identify with everything you wrote. Thank God for His beautiful, cleansing grace! And what's more, He is glad to shower us with it! Oh the joy! Our sin is not a ball and chain we drag around -- we are set free! :)