I used the following post as a devotional for my monthly MOPs group this month. (Mothers of Preschoolers) It went over so well, and so many moms approached me afterward, I felt it needed to be shared here. I hope this post touches you and helps you realize you are loved, no matter who you really are.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the Casting Crowns concert with one of my very best friends. After we left the concert, and had some ice cream, we got into some pretty deep discussion. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this topic. I think this is something all moms need to hear, I’m just praying I can bring it across in a way that points to Jesus.
Tonight, I want us to get real. I mean really really real. Like, spill-our-guts-and-show-the-world-who-we-really-are real.
I start thinking about what Mark Hall said at the concert that night when he said, “As Christians, we feel this overwhelming need to always look good so that we can make Jesus look good.”
Whoa. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I am SO guilty. I feel this need, and it is absolutely overwhelming, to make sure *I* always look good, and therefore Jesus will always look good.
Why do we do that? Why can’t we just be real? As a mom of 8, I often feel like everyone is looking at me. Scrutinizing every move I make, and just waiting for me to fail. And so, I try, with all my might, to NOT fail. To give this perfect appearance of a perfect life all the time.
Oh, what a fake I am. I am not perfect. Nor, should I ever pretend to be, because I am so far from perfect, it’s ridiculous. I have done things that would make you gasp in disbelief and cause you to think little of me. It’s true. I have a past so tattered, that I would do anything to hide it from all of you.
Let me tell you a little secret, and please don’t think less of me because I say this, I just want to be real – to be honest, and to tell it like it is.
The first time I attended my local MOPs group, about 8 years ago, I felt oddly out of place. It was like everyone in the room was so much better than me. Everyone was gorgeous, put together, and so outgoing. There I was, like a bump on a log — a frumpy, overweight, stressed out, exhausted mom of 4, pregnant with her 5th. I had to be better. I had to do better. I had to fit in with everyone around me. (Let me just interject here, if this is how you feel about coming to MOPs, please know that is the exact opposite of what we want you to feel! We want you to walk into MOPs, just as you are, even if it means you show up in your pajamas, and know that you are loved regardless of how much money you have, how stressed out you are, or how long it’s been since you got to take a shower that lasted longer than 3 minutes.)
Back to what I was saying. I felt so out of place, like I could never fit in with these gorgeous ladies. So, I put on a mask. Every time I walked into MOPs, I made sure my makeup was perfect, every hair in place, even made sure my legs were shaved and my eye brows were plucked. I’ve done this for years. Why? Because that’s what I thought I needed to do to give off the appearance of being a good Christian mom that would always make Jesus look good. I had to give off that “perfect life” vibe.
But, you know what? Here’s the thing. It’s not my job to make Jesus look good. He IS good. He radiates good. And if I’m trying to show HIS good by lying? Well, that ain’t doin’ nobody no good! (My high school English teacher is wagging her finger at me right now!) But, it’s true. How can I radiate the love of Christ, if I’m not willing to be REAL and let Him use me in whatever way he chooses?
I have been told that I give off a vibe that I am very difficult to approach, a holier-than-thou vibe, if you will. You have no idea how much hearing this hurts my heart, but it is very much my own fault. It’s all due to the fact that I feel the need to give off that “perfect” appearance. Instead of perfect, though, I am making myself appear stand-offish, and completely unapproachable. Oh, how I hate it! (I have also been told – by the same friend that was willing to give me the brutal truth – that once you get to know me, you see how far off the initial appearance is, but I fear that many people won’t take the time to get to know me simply because of that initial vibe. It hurts my heart so badly to think of all the friendships I may have missed out on because of my overwhelming desire to
be look perfect.)
So, my sweet friends, let me confess to you how real I am, and how perfect I am not:
– I yell. A lot. And loud. There are times when my kids make me so angry, I will literally turn into She-Hulk and can only grunt commands. “GO!” “EAT!” “CLEAN!” “QUIIIIEEEETTTT!!!!” Seriously, it’s not pretty.
– I am not Super Mom. I cannot do it all, even if my Facebook posts show otherwise. I am simply a stressed out mama who needs a super God to get me though my day. Every day.
– I am not patient. Sometimes, I’m certain God gave me children to teach me patience. And He gave me so many kids because I need a LOT MORE practice in patience than most women.
– Laundry is my nemesis. I have 15 (yes, 15) tubs of clothes stacked on my back porch. They are not clean and sorted by season. Oh no. They are dirty clothes from before our move. IN NOVEMBER. I still haven’t touched them. And at this point, I’m thinking I should just burn them so that I can have the 15 storage tubs for other junk.
– Every day is not perfect. Facebook is only one part of my life. There is so much more that goes on behind the scenes that no one even knows about. I fight with my husband, who is wonderful, but still a man. I can barely make ends meet with one income and 10 people in our household. Some days, I don’t know where dinner that night is coming from. Sometimes, I don’t want to be a mom. I want a day off to myself, and I want to SLEEP.
After I had written out this devotional before my meeting, I started to get ready for church. Standing in front of the mirror, I had had enough with my bangs. They were too long and too straggly, and they needed a change. So, I grabbed the scissors and…. oh, shoot! Too short. Oh my gosh. Way too short. So much for the perfect representation of my non-existent perfect life. I sure took care of that, didn’t I? I guess I really needed to keep it real. As I’m standing in the bathroom, tears streaming down my face, my 11 year old puts an arm around my shoulders and says, “It’s not so bad! Look! Now we have the same hairdo!” Just what I always wanted… the same hairdo as my 11 year old… SON. Sigh. I’m just keepin’ it real here, ladies. Really real.
I could go on for hours, there is just so much more I could share. But, I think you get the point. I’m a frazzled, crazy mom, who hates laundry, her hair, and can turn into She-Hulk on a whim. And I am definitely not holier than you!
Before I close, though, I want to leave you with this verse: Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Do you get that? We are his workmanship – created in Christ Jesus. God made me this way. God made you that way. He knew I was going to be a mess, and yet He loves me anyway. Even when I yell. Even when I have a bad day. He’s still there, still loving me, still wanting me to serve Him in whatever capacity I can. He wants us to walk in good works, but it doesn’t mean we have to do it perfectly every moment of every day. In fact, we don’t have to do it perfectly at all!
So, ladies, can we make a pact with each other? Can we promise to just be real from here on out? Really real?
Let’s just do our best, and if we have a bad day, don’t hide it. Embrace it, and discover what the Lord is trying to teach you through it. Your bad day might be a blessing to another mom who is trying to hold it together when it seems like her whole world is falling apart.
Always remember, YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made!