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This weekend, I went to a retreat with about 25 wonderful warrior women. The weekend was bursting with love, laughter, stories and so many desserts. The house we stayed in was massive and could not contain the joy that Jesus put in us all. These were women who were not interested in competition or in one upmanship or in out spiritualizing one another. These were women who were willing to be super honest and share their hearts and stories. I saw strengths and weaknesses and the strengths encouraged and the weaknesses encouraged and it was just plain Messy Beautiful.
I came home wanting more of the Word and the Way and more love and more joy. Today, with the chilly rain pouring and kids home for spring break and fibro jumping up and down in my legs, I curl up in the Chair of Healing and set to reading the Bible.
Nora snatches the Bible out of my hands and rips a page out. The first page of Genesis 27. I fuss at her, she laughs, unfazed and tries to snatch more pages out. I hold it just out of her reach while she squeals in indignation. Kind of hard to read this way.
A fight breaks out over a spot on the couch and it is a fight that must be navigated. Two little girls whose tiny butts certainly do NOT take up the whole couch all of a sudden must BOTH sit in this one good spot. (Sort of like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory.) They are both banished from the spot altogether.
While I deal with that, Nora grabs coffee and dumps it into my purse and all down the Chair of Healing. (For those of you who are new to my blog, the Chair of Healing is my beloved recliner that my friends bought me to recover in after Nora’s Birth.) Coffee covers my journal, the insides of my purse, pill bottles and appointment cards, lipstick and my iPhone. Thanks Nora.
I clean all of that up, take a deep breath and with far less resolve, I get back to it.
“Blessed are the Poor in Spririt”, I read but I realize I still need to drink coffee. The Bible is set aside and I am off to make another cup.
My biggest girl’s car keys are missing and all activities stop while we all help her look. Nora dumps out my second cup.
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” All I’ve read so far.
More coffee to clean up, distractions all over the place and I just feel like a big fat failure.
I feel like the days are so full of diapers and cleaning up messes and tantrums and fights and admonitions and tasks and appointments and driving to preschool that I just can’t see above the water. It feels hopeless because I just can’t get anywhere. Swimming in place.
And I am haunted anew by these feelings of inadequacy. In this raw truth:
I feel like I don’t measure up. I’m just not good enough.
And I feel like too that I have to keep this secret of not being good enough because what if….what if…what if:
Everyone finds out and I am left alone?
Raw truth. I told you it was raw.
I remember when I was a pregnant teenager and I felt like I’d just gotten in the good graces of Jesus by the skin of my teeth.
I remember when I got divorced and I felt like an anomaly among the “good” Christian women.
I remember when I lost custody of my son and the sting of that failure almost took me down.
I remember walking the floor with my screaming fifth baby wondering why in the world I couldn’t figure her out.
I remember about a bajillion times that I’ve compared my precious six with other people’s. Wondering if I’ve ruined them for ever and ever and ever with my inadequate mothering. Oh, comparison, that sneaky thief that makes us all feel like we are no good. Comparing my spiritual life, comparing my writing, comparing my singing, comparing my marriage or my friendships.
And I am swirling. Swirling down, falling to pieces over my failures because I have yet to have a good “quiet time” today. Because I can’t get my baby to stop dumping out my coffee, because my kids are fighting, because there are toys everywhere, because I don’t even know what to read in the Bible.
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” Those words sing out in my heart. He quiets me with His singing. “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.”
I am stopped still. I love those words, treasure them and ponder them in my heart and they are the only words I’ve read all morning. And maybe, just maybe…there is a purpose in it.
My Spirit is weak within me and in the midst of my mess, my Spirit is beautiful. Because I am made in the image of God. Because God has given me gifts to share. Because I am loved and redeemed. Because my six have their issues too but they are messy beautiful and so is my marriage and really my whole crazy life, the glorious chaos that we are is all so beautiful.
Nora smiles her silly smile at me and Lila and Claire are snuggled in the big chair, the couch abandoned…Julia’s keys are still lost but the house seems to hold a precious sort of joy just now. A moment of peace and sweetness and light and I am suddenly so grateful. Julia asks me if I’ll use my mom super powers to help her find those keys, “Please just help me look again?”
Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for ours is the kingdom of heaven. Ours is the kingdom of heaven.
I set the Bible aside and begin the search.