It has been five years and I am just now learning to embrace the beautiful mess that accompanies motherhood. Before kids, things were just so… Magazines and clever books sprawled across the coffee table with the most intentional haphazard tidiness. Glass jars brimmed with crisp white cotton balls on the bathroom vanity. Festive bowls of holiday candy were strategically placed around the home and decorative pillows were plump and perfectly placed.
Today, the magazines are in a pile on the floor next to my nightstand. The cotton balls are in a zip-lock bag in the locked linen closet with the medicine, feminine products, band-aids (stickers), Q-tips, and all other toddler bathroom hazards. The toilet roll is turned backward to mitigate the wild abandon of the “toddler toilet roll experience” and the tissue box is, likewise, now on the top shelf. The holiday candy, also in the bedroom (hidden) under tank-tops in a top drawer. Decorative pillows? What’s left of the flat squares with dried yogurt stains always end up on the floor. They are often used in conjunction with all other linens from around the home for jumping piles or fort-building.
So how am I finally embracing this imperfect home, you ask? Well, it is certainly not easy for me.
My personality thrives on organization and a sanctuary feeling in my home. But I don’t think it’s really easy for any of us, and if we are honest with ourselves, social media can be our greatest enemy: the writhing organism that can suck the joy out of a day in two seconds flat, making a woman feel like the most incompetent and incapable mother on the planet.
The scenario goes something like this: morning coffee. Kids playing happily. All is right with the world! I think I’ll take a quick trip to visit my friends on Facebook. Then I see it — the post. The post that starts the emotional tailspin. My dear Facebook friend shares a series of beautiful photos at 9 a.m. depicting how she and her family are celebrating Groundhog Day. And the stream-of-consciousness spiraling downward in my head, "Aww, her kids are so cute! It’s Groundhog day? Oh, neat! I hope the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow… or is it the other way around? What’s his name again? P… Pot… Patt… Pax… Oh dear, we aren’t doing anything for Groundhog Day. How could I forget to celebrate Groundhog Day with my kids! I’m such a bad mom. I need to go to Pinterest and find all the necessities to decorate and celebrate!"
This momentary experience is followed by spending half the day on Pinterest (the black hole of Ball jar innovations and Essie nail tutorials), eating peanut butter out of the jar with a butter knife, ignoring my kids, and feeling like a miserable excuse for a mom because I didn’t celebrate Groundhog Day.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe with all of life pressing in and looking down its nose, or so it feels, at your inadequacies as mother and homemaker, you wonder how you ever find the strength to get out of those yoga pants.
But I did say at the beginning of this article that I am learning to embrace imperfection. I am learning to be content in all things (Philippians 4:11) and the Lord has led me on this journey to mortify my sin of desire for temporal perfection. I am eager to share. The journey is not over. Praise God, I pray it will never be.
I once heard a female Bible teacher warn not to share testimony and “victory” too soon. The implication being, if you share testimony before the trial is over you risk an incomplete testimony unmarked by true “victory”. Thus, you heap judgment upon yourself and risk falling back into sin. This heresy (and it is heresy) I took to heart and, for a long time, to the Deceiver’s pleasure I am sure, avoided the public sharing of personal testimony. But here is the Truth: we will never have complete victory until we are one with Christ in Heaven. We are all sinners like Paul who did what he hated (Romans 7:15). It is critical to our sanctification that we understand this. For if we are duped into a false sense of the security of “victory,” we risk becoming prideful and ignorant to our sin.
One day may be victorious—praise God. The next day, the next moment, I might fail in my flesh and fall flat on my face—praise God, that’s where He wants us most of the time anyway. So I want to share this testimony with you not because I have victory once and for all, but because God is prodding my heart. He is teaching me, disciplining me, giving me opportunity to share my experience. By his grace, my desire is to glorify Him.
So, you want me to get on with it? You want me to share the HOW? Well, it’s not Six Easy Steps to Becoming Practically Imperfect In Every Way. If it were only that simple. See, perfection is an idol in my heart. My home and its creature comfort is an idol. Facebook and Pinterest are also idols. These seemingly smaller idols feed my overarching idol of perfection. Suddenly, I have one scary looking monster idol with a #fakefriedlyface, super-mom cape flapping in the wind, and a big white letter “P” on her red shirt. She’s twitching a little and drinking #Good-Girl Moonshine out of a Ball jar (recipe on Pinterest). Her hair is frizzy and strung out but, man, her nails are gorgeous!
DO NOT SKIM THIS NEXT SECTION. I must kill this idol. I must mortify my sin. It starts here:
“Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first prepared for him a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation these are simply ‘things.’ They were made for man’s use, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.
But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul.
Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and things were allowed to enter. Within the human heart things have taken over. Men have now, by nature, no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer; but there, in the moral dusk, stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.”
It rings in my ears. It knocks me to my knees. It breaks me…
I’ve allowed things in, multiple things, that battle for first place on the throne and I’ve forced God out of the shrine altogether. We think we know better than God, don’t we? I mean we would never admit it out loud but, when we feel down, when we feel less than best, where do we turn? Do we turn to social-media? Do we turn to food? Or do we turn to God? That’s when you know.
He has me right where He wants me now — broken and contrite, flat on my face before the throne of grace. Thank you, Lord.
I go to the cross:
“Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of thy sin. His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in this, and thou wilt die a conqueror; yea, thou wilt, through the good providence of God, live to see thy lust dead at thy feet."
“Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shall Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ name. Amen”
And I repent:
Repentance is change of mind for the purpose of changing direction. . . a heart-change.
“To mortify a sin is not utterly to kill, root it out, and destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in our hearts. It is true this is that which is aimed at; but this is not in this life to be accomplished”4
Just as we will never see complete victory on this Earth, we will likewise never fully mortify our sin until we are one with God. We can trust God that He gives us the strength we need (Isaiah 40:31), and He always provides a way of escape for us when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Here are a few practical ways I’ve worked to kill this sin of desire for temporal perfection:
1. Replacing negative thoughts and lies with positive thoughts and Truth. This is a moment-by-moment exercise, replacing bad habits with good habits. I have done this through memorizing Scripture; plastering index cards with Scripture all over my house (and reading them); carrying Scripture with me (and reading it); listening to worship music; ministering to myself by singing hymns and reciting Scripture (even if it is choppy); Bible study, prayer and meditation; and listening to online sermons and podcasts.
—See Ephesians 4:22-24; Deuteronomy 6; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Colossians 3:2.
—Hymns: Take My Life and Let it Be (I Love Thee Lord Jesus)
2. Taking a technology fast. I have periodically abandoned Facebook and other social media sites during specific seasons. In fact, this topic is another whole article in and of itself regarding the navigation of the minefields of social media. But seek the Lord on this. Pray hard. Unfollow people. Protect your heart.
—See Psalm 101:3; Matthew 5:30; Proverbs 4:23; 1 Corinthians 9:27
3. Don’t give up. Read Romans 8.
So, as I sip from my DIY dollar store coffee mug, Sharpie-scribbled with the phrase World’s Okayest Mom (tutorial found on Pinterest), I recite, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:3). My imperfect toddler-proof home may not be pin-worthy, but it is joy-worthy. It is a home where peace reigns.
And by the grace of God, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, it is a sanctifying place. A safe place. A nurturing place. A learning place. A loving place. A place where we say “sorry.” And we forgive.
Our home is a place of grace.
“Yet, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
This article was previously published at BeautifulThing146.com.