I mean, really real. Not the kind where my “confession” is that I fed my kids just regular chicken breasts from the deli at Bakers instead of the organic, free-range, hormone-free kind from Whole Foods. That doesn’t count.
I want to be really real with you, the kind that makes me squirm with embarrassment, and worry over the backlash and judgment. Not because I like feeling uncomfortable. I really hate it. But I also have learned through the bitter tears and clenched fists and sweaty palms of uncomfortable about the real joy that comes from it. How I’ve grown in those moments. The moments when I tore off my mask, shed my perfectionist desires and rid my face of the plastered smile to reveal the girl underneath. The one that God crafted and loves so. Just as I am. In those moments, a split second after the revelation and the prick of fear about “What will they think???” what comes spilling forth is relief. And relaxation. And the distinct feeling that my God is pleased with His daughter being completely, unabashedly, unreservedly REAL.
So, without further ado, can I lay down for you some truths in my life? Here goes nothing.
- I’ve read in several places that it’s a must to change your bed sheets every single week. That does not happen in my house as often as it should.
- Sometimes I forget to remind my youngest daughter to take a shower. And then I realize with serious shame that it’s been a few days and the girl needs to bathe. Nobody wants to be the stinky kid in class.
- I don’t cook. Not at all. And so, if my husband isn’t around, I’ll order pizza. This is bad on not just one, but two, fronts. First, I’m feeding my kids crap instead of learning to cook something healthy. And then, I pick something that can be delivered because I don’t want to leave the house. That’s bad stewarding of both my body and my money, a double sin. And it’s lazy. La-zy.
- What’s worse, sometimes I don’t even order the pizza. We have a “Fend for Yourself” night. One kid will eat a bowl of cereal, the other will have leftovers and I’ll eat a salad. I rationalize that I’m teaching them to care for themselves, to be self-sufficient. But, come on.
- Some Saturdays, I spend the majority of the day watching tv. Sure, sure—I throw in a few loads of laundry and wash the dishes and make sure my kids eat. But we’re watching tv, make no mistake about it. In a world with limitless possibilities, I chose tv over museums and libraries and parks.
- I am always late. Always. I yell at people when I’m late as if it’s their fault. It’s rude and makes everyone feel rushed.
- I use events as a license to eat like a pig. Like Christmas or my birthday. I figure, well I might as well enjoy this and eat whatever I want. Hey, I’m going to blow it anyway, right?? Let’s really blow it! There’s never a good excuse for consuming 5,000 calories, people.
- Sometimes I hate having school-aged kids. Because they need help with homework and despite my previous college education, I feel like a total idiot when trying to help my kids with math. No, I do not recall how to find integers and I wish I could tell my daughters that there’s a good chance they won’t be using those as adults.
And now for the really, reeeally real stuff…..
- I had post-partum depression. Twice. It was horrific and still haunts the recesses of my mind if I think on it too long. I had dreams about harming myself in the most terrible of ways. I wasn’t and couldn’t be the mother my kids deserved in their first few months of life. In the still of the night, when I am awakened by my old dog needing to empty his tiny bladder, I lay in bed and wonder,”What is the long term effect of those months for them? Will it pop up later in life in unexpected situations? How badly did I fail them? Do they know???”
- Depression isn’t just for the post-partum among us. Even when you are two months, two years, a decade past the push and pain of labor, it hangs on. Like sap on a tree, it sticks to everything in its path. Sometimes I wake up and before I even leave my bed, I just know. That it’s a day the enemy has pegged as a war day. He wants to see how long he can keep me in that bed, in that darkened room, shut off from the light, bright world. And you guys…sometimes he WINS. The lamest, most vile creature to ever exist sometimes wins. And then I feel like I failed my Father in Heaven. Because I know better.
- I’m a hypocrite. Because I will tell my daughters how beautiful they are, what a stunning creation they are and then in the same breath, berate my own reflection. The skin that has held in two babies-in-the-making and the legs that walked me to and fro as I traveled the earth, the hands that have ministered to people and the eyes that have wept a thousand tears collected in bottles by my Father—I berate that body. The vain laws of society seep into a teenage girl’s head and harden like cement, whispering to me what I need to be in order to measure up. And all the mirror shows is less than. My head knows what my Father says. I know what His word says. I know that I’d hate for my daughters to despise their carefully crafted bodies the way I do mine. But still, the disdain remains.
So, what now? What to do with all these truths that stand in direct conflict to the things my God says? How do I reconcile them in my head? How do I change? Friends, I am in good company. Paul wrote to the Romans about this exact struggle. I am not alone. And if you are struggling with keeping it all in line like me, then you aren’t alone either. Isn’t that good news? Refreshingly hopeful news? Because if Paul, a man who heard the voice of the resurrected Jesus and served in the birth of His church, struggled with the massive beast we call everyday living, then I sure do feel better.
I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
~ Romans 7:14-16 (MSG)
Here’s what we can do. Hold our hands and our hearts wide open. God isn’t rocked by our struggles. We can share them with Him, pour our hearts out in utter honesty. And we can expect Him to work in us little by little, claiming victories big and small, then covering over the jagged parts with His grace-filled love. This fight isn’t over yet. You are complete in Christ, even as you are still being transformed. In the end, God remains. He’s enough, sweet friends. He’s more than ENOUGH.
*This piece originally appeared at handiworkofgrace.com