What I Am Today

“Sometimes I wonder about my life.

I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder,

do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave?”

– You’ve Got Mail

There are fears and there are failures and frailty.

And there are tears.

There are also the arms of a man who has loved me for nearly thirteen years.

And his words, they spur me on.

He speaks truth; Not what I want to hear — his words do not validate how I feel.

Honesty can hurt, but it can also heal.

And that man has taught me more about the love of Jesus than anyone I’ve known, and just like his Savior, can make me squirm in light of his humility and grace.

Sometimes God brings two very different people together to show them more of Himself, to minister to the deep parts … the shame … what we try to keep hidden.

My brokenness causes me to feel like I’m so close to greatness, but more often the brokenness is a two way street, and I know I can never be anything great at all; How everything that others perceive about me is a sham. That I am a fraud.

No one sees the bits of Cheerios or goldfish all over the floor or the pile of laundry that I allowed to take over the corner of the kitchen — the days when not much schooling occurred or the nights when I am just too exhausted to make dinner and resort to peanut butter and jelly for the kiddos, nursing for the baby, leftovers for my husband, and me choking on my tears and disappointment.

I’ve fooled myself into thinking that I would just be better than this. That I could — would be great.

Is it discontentment with motherhood, with not being the wife I thought I’d be, or just with my whole self?

I voice it and he hears and he doesn’t let me get away with it and then — he teaches me with my own words.  Words from a time past, when there were just us two; when he needed to lean on me.

“You know you once told me that people who are great, didn’t set out to be great.  They were just faithful in the little things.

***

But what if I don’t want to bloom where I’m planted?

What if I just want to give up — to do and be something else?

What if going back to work is easier than cultivating beauty and training minds and leading the young to His father heart for them?

But that’s when he encourages me to just take it one minute at a time; He tells me that I am doing better than I think, and that where I am growing, grace abounds.

It’s maddening to lose permission to wallow in self-pity, and nothing combats self-centeredness more than giving to others …

When he leaves for work, I am left with four precious children who need someone to pour love and grace into them, and it’s then that I realize that no matter what I choose to do in life, before I took my first breath I was created for this. To raise these little hearts; to remain close to the Father so that when they look at me, when I talk to them, when I choose to respond instead of react, they see a little bit of His love for them. That by the time they decide to make this faith I’ve taught them their own, they have been bathed in mercy and grace in their shortcomings, championed in their wins, comforted in their heartbreak, soothed in their fears. What they know of Him, they will learn first from me, and so I must keep close to His side.

“Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me” (John 15:4-5).

***

When I sat down this morning I noticed how many drafts I have unpublished and began reading through them. I stumbled upon this post, and was reminded of a difficult season that I couldn’t see an end to, but I was also flooded with memories of God’s faithfulness during that time.

Over six years ago I went on maternity leave and decided to take a break from teaching. Two years later, I found myself homeschooling a five year old and a seven year old, while potty training a two year old and breastfeeding an infant. So often He draws us to His side, in less than ideal situations, as our own neediness threatens to suffocate us.

But not being enough isn’t easy …

What I want to be is my final draft self and to only let others into the parts that I am proud of. So I delete or file away my drafts, my musings … I don’t call a friend when I’m discouraged, hoping that tomorrow or next week or in a year, I might be good enough, but He reminds me

“… this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11, MSG

I’d like to say that I have grown so much from that day four years ago — that I no longer wish that I was great, but even tonight, I find myself trapped in a game of comparison. If you’re like me, you look at your inner story and compare it to someone else’s outer life — the friends for whom everything always seems to work out perfectly, but when we play that game, we lose. We become blind to the blessings around us — our prayers that He has answered and “comparison is the thief of joy” (Theodore Roosevelt).

But He calls me to live authentically; to bring what I am today, and allow Him to pour grace into me … To live bravely, though imperfectly. To be real.  And I’m learning that my kids need to see the ups and downs of life; to experience reconciliation and restoration, to understand that who they are today — whether it’s a good day or it’s a bad day — is not the end of their story.

God is constantly working in each of our hearts, gently shaping us into His greater design. My rough draft is not His final draft. There is hope.