Someone gave me a book about a month ago. In the best of intentions, of course. They read it, loved it…and were sure that I would read it and love it. Not only would I love it, but that it would magically provide words of inspiration that I’ve never heard before, and lift me out of my dark pit.
I get a lot of that.
I read all of them. I mean, you never know, right? One of them really might contain that special ‘a-ha’ sentence that brings light in a way I’ve never thought of, or reference to a scripture verse that will open my eyes (unlike the ones i’ve been reading….alllll the ones i’ve been reading). Most of them are good. They don’t help, but they are good books.
Sometimes though, they just add to the feeling crappy feeling. I’m been mulling over this one for about 3 weeks. The first half of the book was full of pretty….trite (to me) stories. Just…not my cup of tea. That’s okay though.
Then I got to this list. This list of ‘Things that Must Occur for You to be a Person of Grace’. Okay, that’s not the name of the list….but in my head, that’s what it is. I think it’s actually “How to Know Where Grace Lives”. Pretty much saying that it’s not how well you cook, or clean, or decorate, etc….that make you a good mom. It’s THESE things that make you a good mom:
All the neighborhood kids hang out at your house.
You can see people dancing where grace lives.
Sometimes the children just watch from behind their cereal and catch the grace of a ‘silly’ mom.
You can hear all these words of affirmation type phrases like “You are my treasure”.
The children’s eyes light up with joy and anticipation….
The lights are on late where grace lives. Grace stays up late to give extra hugs and wipe away tears.
Those are just a few in the list. You get the picture though, and if you’ve ever been to my house…then you would know that by these definitions…grace doesn’t live here. I mean…I don’t dance. Sure, I did when my children were babies….but I really don’t anymore. I’m not ‘silly’….pretty much….ever. I’m not a words of affirmation type person, and I don’t think I’ve every said to anyone, ever ‘You are my treasure’….nor can I fathom every saying that phrase…to anyone, ever. Sometimes, the neighborhood kids hang out in my yard….but generally not with my permission. I like kids that come over with moms in tow. The lights might be on late here, but it’s usually because I can’t sleep….because the kids are in bed by their bedtimes.
So now, I feel like I don’t get to just struggle with the popular image of ‘Supermom’ that this book tries to dispel (the clean house, healthy meals, got it all together version)….but also the author’s version of supermom being this always happy, knows all the answers sweet, loving, Jesus in the female form version of Supermom.
So now, while I pray for strength to get out of bed each day, cook decently healthy food (because it is important…it’s food the way God designed it…) and do something about getting the house in some kind of order (there’s even scripture on that one) I get to struggle with the guilt that I don’t want the new neighbor’s kids in my yard all hours of the day. I don’t need some book making me feel (like more of) a graceless old shrew because I don’t want to be the neighborhood daycare center…that sometimes…I just want to go out and weed my garden in peace. I get to feel like a bad Christian (or is it so bad that I don’t even qualify anymore?) for not just taking these dirty, rude, and disrespectful children into my home and loving them like my own. I mean, surely that’s what Jesus would do, right?
I feel like I can barely take care of my OWN kids. My house with only the 4 of us in it. I mean, obviously I’m already grace-less in this aspect…and to somehow be ‘grace-full’ I’m magically supposed to be able to accept random extra children at the lunchtable…spending my days gritting my teeth against more mess and broken toys and repeating ‘smile and wave’ in my head? That if I were to just PRAY hard enough, it would just happen???
That because someone around here has to be serious, has to attempt to get things done…that I’m graceless. I mean, have you ever seen anything take the joy or anticipation out of a kid’s eyes faster than “your chores need done”? Or sending them to timeout for disobeying?
So, I stopped reading it. The answer to all my problems might be hidden in the last quarter of this book, but I can’t risk it. Because now instead of just feeling guilt for feeding the kids leftover cheese dogs for the past 3 days (hey, they are grilled. because i prefer my nitrate laden quasi meat with an extra side of carcinogens) I get cast of of Christiandom for not just giving them all away to the neighbors (because surely, if I was a good enough Christian, and had enough faith…if i gave all our hog dogs away, then God would just provide more hot dogs, like some processed meat version of 1 Kings….or something….which then sends me into a tailspin of faith regarding all the little children that have the faith of a mountain but still go to bed hungry every night).