“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” -Gal. 2:20
I spent what should have been a relaxing day of Sabbath rest, instead- cleaning and scrubbing the house after a long, full, messy week of life in a place where it looks like 6 bodies have done their darndest to litter carpets, deflate pillows, stain furniture, smudge walls and windows, and clutter any and every available surface with stuff. There’s trash mixed with food mixed with homeschooling supplies and art projects, clothing and dishes. Where to even begin? I’m grumbling inside because I hate the sorting of it all. I feel like dumping the dining room table on end and shoving the entire mess into a giant garbage bag.
I’m just weary of the mess. The ongoing, never-ending, always there, MESS.
And the stress of having to see it, sort it, deal with it, live in it, and be the primary one responsible for cleaning it, is sometimes more than a mama can bear.
And there’s this funny thing how the house feels like a mirror image of my insides. I’m one giant mess most days too. Pulled in a million directions, trying to juggle too much, to keep life sorted out and feeling like I’m failing over and over again.
An old friend wrote the other day–a particularly rough day– to say she was encouraged by an old post I had written, and thanks for being obedient.
I about fell off my chair.
Obedient? Oh, that email couldn’t have been intended for this wreck-of-a-woman.
No way, uh uh.
I can’t even type it without tears flowing because I’m really and truly just such a failure at life these days (weeks, months…).
You believe me, right? Because it’s hard to share the hard things here…or anywhere, really. And why is it that? Why is it that we are afraid to admit our struggles? That we think we ought to always only be upbeat and encouraging and filled with joy? To never speak of our spiritual trials, unless it’s in past tense?
I don’t like admitting it any more than the next person.
So most times, when the goin’s rough, I stay quiet and I choose joy and I believe tomorrow will be a better day.
But really, behind the smile and seemingly confident attitude, there’s a person who’s a whole lot like you, a gal struggling through life too, only most days, I’m pretty sure I’m doing a way worse job of it.
Cuz the real story is this: I am a mess.
At least, I feel I’m a mess in all the ways that count.
Self control? Pitiful. Patient? On a rare day. Kind? Only if you’re referring to people other than my kids and husband.
Ever come to a place where you can hardly stand yourself, but you just can’t seem to change, try as you may?
And you really start asking–
What does a Proverbs 31 woman look like again, and how on earth is this mundane life of mine actually a holy work?
And you for-real wonder–
Am I even filled with the Holy Spirit and if so, why am I living so powerlessly, struggling with the same garbage over and over? Where is my joy hiding under all this self-pity, and why can’t I think of something to give thanks for in this moment?
Daily devotions? FAIL, unless I’m allowed to count reading Bible stories aloud to the kids. Small Group Bible Study? Pshhh. These days, I can barely make it once a month, with my half-finished homework and just-happy-to-be-out-of-the-house-self…and sometimes I wonder, who was that girl who used to live and lead with such passion, and wow, what on earth has happened to her?
But surely, there are some areas where you’re consistent, you say.
On edge? All the time. Exasperated, frustrated, irritated? Hourly. Hot tempered and ready to blow my top? Just about daily. Stubborn and filled with pride? Check and check.
Nagging, complaining, barking? Got ’em down to a miserable science.
Most days, feeling like I am straight-up losing this battle called life? Though I hate to admit it, yes.
What’s sad is that you can just about set your calendar by my all-out mama meltdowns–they usually happen every few days, between the hours of 6-9pm, always after my tired, hard-working husband comes home from a long day at the office, and enters “the war zone” as we like to refer to the house these days.
Last time, you know what set me off? A missing knob. A silly missing knob-right there on the cupboard under the sink. It had been missing for months, removed for whoknowswhatreason, and never replaced, and that night, I was tired of seeing it that way. It was just another thing I felt like I was fighting. Annoyed and stewing, I lashed out at my husband with unkind, blaming words before pushing a chair in front of the fridge and climbing up to remove the knob on the tiny cupboard up there (no one can really even SEE it, so why on earth not remove that one instead?). As I unscrewed it, angry thoughts and an overwhelming wind of despair threatened to topple me right off that kitchen chair.
Yet from where I stood, seething, I could hear my husband around the corner in the hallway, gently talking to our children, preparing to take them upstairs to read a book and get them ready for bed. I listen as he speaks softly. I know he’s holding them tenderly while guiding them up. He whispers his love to them.
I know he’s not perfect. But in that moment, he was like a picture of Christ. And I, this wretched, miserable thing.
I lean my head against the top of the fridge.
I’m just not gonna make it, I think, as the tears begin to pour.
Some heart aches and soul cries can’t be stuffed back down.
My man, half way up the steps, hears the beginning of the sobs and he comes back down and around the corner, to see if I’m ok.
In shame, I bury my head-in-hands deeper against that cold fridge, trying to dam up the ocean pouring out.
Do I even need to put it into words?
I stink at life right now.
I know it. He knows it. God knows it.
But that’s only part of the reason I’m weeping.
Why I really cry is because I just.don’t.know if I can live better…if I can live above the storms of this life.
My heart cries, Change me, Lord Jesus! I don’t want to live like this!
I want to have victory over these struggles. I want to love my children and my husband and my “neighbor” with Your love.
I don’t want to be counted as a success by the world’s temporal standards only to fail in the areas that count spiritually, eternally.
How do you not give up when you only have one forward-day for every 2 days of stepping backward?
My man, he scoops me right up off that chair like I’m the little child, and I wrap my arms around him and cling tight. He lets me cry and this time he whispers gentle, affirming words into my ears, as he kisses away the tears. This is the ministry of grace.
My heart softens…and opens again to hear His voice.
Later with my Bible open, I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s struggles against his flesh, and his words in Romans 7:17-8:4 become my prayer:
God…didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.”
My heart grabs to this truth as He leads me gently back to the cross.
Yes, I nod, always to the cross…
And as I behold it with fresh eyes, I am filled again with hope as I cling to a God who is holy and beautiful and perfect, a Savior who knew no sin, yet who laid HIS life down that I may have life, and life abundantly! I gaze again upon His redemptive love–proven by this: while I was yet a sinner, He died for me.
He did not see me cleaned-up, or at my personal best when He hung upon that tree~He saw a sinner, an enemy, a traitor, a failure, a mess…and yet…He took the shame I was supposed to wear, and bore it upon His shoulders.
Man of Sorrows! What a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
His Word breathes new life into my soul. It seals up the breached places where the enemy has broken through and wounded. His love restores the ugly places and broken pieces. His oil alone heals and soothes and re-lights the fires of love, compassion, kindness and gentleness in my heart of hearts, and in Him, I am invited to shed all condemnation.
A grace that is greater than all our sin says to you and to me, Come, begin again!
Come, you who are battle weary!
Come, you sinners, you failures!
Come, you wounded and fearful.
Come and find rest and peace, hope and healing in me.
Come, Jesus beckons with arms open wide.
Come and exchange your life for Mine.
Gratefully Linking up with:
Hearts for Home @ Graced Simplicity
Proverbs 31 Thursdays @ Raising Mighty Arrows
Deep Roots at Home
Faith Filled Fridays
Womanhood with Purpose