Sunday, June 5, 2016


My four-year-old daughter comes running into the house, sobbing. Like, whole-body shaking, wailing cries. Like, actually take notice, something-might-be-broken-or-bleeding crying (unlike my usual, very flat “What happened (now)?” response).
“Maddie, what’s wrong?” I ask, with some alarm.
“Wooka gaaahh daaa saaah faaaahhhhhhh!” she sobs.
“Um… what?” Quick onceover tells me that nothing is broken, nothing is bleeding. We’ve got a stage 5 meltdown on our hands. Best guess is that some bastard has taken her turn. Or she dropped something precious, like a chip.
She wails again, louder, and even less coherently.
“Maddie, I’m gonna need you to take breath. Calm down, little one. Calm down. I can’t understand you when you’re hysterical. Okay. Now – calmly – tell me why you’re upset.”
Ragged breath dramatically drawn, she tells me. “Lucas got the swing first!”
(Inwardly high-five my call.) “That’s… rough, man. Sorry about that?” Pat, pat. “Chip?”
Her eyes get big, her grin gets huge, and she takes the chip to run off and happily play. Crisis forgotten. (Also, she maybe likes chips too much?)
And as I roll my eyes and mutter, “Seriously,” into my kitchen, it occurs to me – I’m her. Lately, I’ve been having a lot of stage 5 meltdowns.  Railing away at my kids for leaving dirty socks in the hallway instead of taking them two feet to the bottom of the stairs FOR THE FIFTEENTH TIME TODAY. Throwing poison dart eyes across the school carnival at the gaggle of perfectly-put-together moms who clearly have never faced a day of adversity in their lives. Driving through the country aimlessly “on my way to get milk” and pulling over every quarter mile to sob into the steering wheel.
I have a flair for the dramatic. Whatever.
Grown-up life has been getting to me, guys. I’m fighting through some very real heartaches. I’m struggling with the grind of parenting, the day-in-day-out monotony of wakeups and cooking and dishes and laundry and homework and sports and DRIVING and the seemingly endless string of arguments and whining and tattling that come with raising four little people. I battle bouts of depression, anxiety, pain, and fatigue that sap me of my energy and motivation and make every day an uphill climb. I struggle to find joy, purpose, meaning, significance, identity.
I hear the enemy’s lies and half-truths like a Greek chorus throughout my day…
“Your kids are so screwed up”
“Your husband doesn’t love you like he used to.”
“When did you become so unlikeable.”
“You deserve better.”
“You deserve more.”
“Why do you bother trying?”
And the loudest, most constant drip-drip-drip from the enemy – “You. Are. Failing.”
And sometimes, I listen. Sometimes I get so tired of the battle – of feeling constantly under attack, constantly having take my thoughts captive and turn them to Jesus. I just want to rest, for crying out loud. So I quit treading water, and I just let myself sink. I listen to those lies and I accept them as truths. And then, I live that way.  Defeated. Discouraged. Hopeless. Helpless.
And of course, I keep it quiet. Because here is another lie the enemy just loves to tell me:
"No one will get it."
I am a sucker for that lie, because I'm so afraid of being misunderstood. I'm afraid that if I tell anyone what I’m really going through, they will only see the failure. They'll smile and pat, pat my head and then turn and roll their eyes and think, "Dude, she is a MESS." They will see the struggle and not the way that I fight through it, how I show up every day and nurture my kids and care for my home and honor my husband and serve my community. Or they’ll only see the beautiful things in my life - and there are plenty of them - and wonder how in the hell I can have anything to complain about. They won't see the ways that I intentionally fix my eyes on Jesus, how I keep turning the worship music louder and keep hiding his word in my heart and the many times a day I pause to thank God for my kids and my husband and my home and the sunset and the music. Or they’ll over-react, and wring their hands and try to have me committed (which, if it involves a spa or a solid 10 hours of sleep, do it).
I want to be seen, really seen, and I'm afraid I can only be seen as perfect or a failure. So I hide behind the “I’m ok” mask and keep going through the motions, while resentment and bitterness and envy and malice grow steadily in my quietly rebellious heart.
God calls to me, “What’s wrong?” And I keep him at arm’s length. I feel so unclean, unwashed, so horribly imperfect and I’m certain that he doesn’t want to see me like this again. He beckons me to open my Bible and I resist, because I’m certain that I’ve found all the treasure I could ever find in his Word and if I open it to search I’ll just come up disappointed and empty. He invites me to talk and listen and I just harden my heart against his… because I pray, and I pray, and I pray for this mountain or that mountain to move, just an inch, and it just does not budge. I shut God’s voice outside, and then I wonder why I just can’t seem to hear him.
So this is where I’ve been for the past week or so. And this morning, as I stood under the hot shower stream and asked Jesus for the strength to do just one more day, I felt it.
The stirring of hope. The hand of the Father.
It’s unmistakable. Nothing else changed. My kids were still fighting and I was still exhausted and my schedule was still packed and my student loans were still unpaid. But I felt him, right there, with me in the shower. I heard him – “Calm down, little one. Calm down.”
I began to cry, again, but with that broken-open softened heart that only God can bring about. I poured out my heart to him, and I offered my sacrifice of praise, and I heard him singing over me. And I felt that sweet prick of hope.
I sat through church with that heart-flutter that tells me that the Holy Spirit wants me to speak, to tell my story to someone who needs to hear it. So here I am, telling you the ugly stuff.
Tomorrow, I will wake up to another Monday of chores, bills, demands, and obligations. I will face the heavy stuff that doesn't go away. I hesitate to say, "Hey, I felt this hope today!" because I know that the battle doesn't end on this side of eternity.
But I feel like someone needs to know that they have a kindred spirit hot mess.
And I know I’m not actually alone. No matter what the enemy tells me, I know I’m not the only mama who feels bone-deep weary in the trenches. I’m not the only wife who wrestles with what love looks like when the shiny and new has long since worn off. I’m not the only grown-up woman who experiences grief, loss, heartache, disappointment, disillusionment, discouragement, anger, and envy. I’m not the only one who feels like I only ever fall short.
If you recognize yourself here, please, can I encourage you?
You. Are. Not. Failing.
You are living. You’re showing up and you’re doing your thing, day after day.
Struggling is not failing. Battling is not failing. Suffering is not failing.
You are covered, from head to unpolished toe, in the gorgeous, unbelievable, perfect grace of Jesus. You are seen, right now, wherever you are, whatever you’re hiding under your pretty face. You are seen, and known, and understood, and you are loved with an everlasting, never failing, enough-for-everything love.

And by the way? You can do it. You can do every single thing you are called to in this season of your life. You are the right wife for your husband, the right woman for your job, the right friend for your neighborhood, the right leader for your ministry.

You are the right mama for your kids.

Whatever it is you are called to do right now, Jesus has every ounce of strength and stamina and energy and patience and grace and LOVE to fill you to overflowing and equip you for the long obedience. Please, dear friend, don't listen to the enemy. Jesus is enough for even you.
And believe me, sweet friend… we get it.
With hope unfolding*,
* I must plug his wonderful new book I can’t seem to put down. Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart by Becky Thompson. It's so, so good.