I am a go-getter. I love making goals and reaching goals. When I focus and set my mind to something, I am really good at getting things done.
My kids, on the other hand, are really good at getting things undone.
I make a list, I check tiny boxes, I feel accomplished.
They see a box, empty it, and scatter the contents. All over the place. Anytime. Anywhere.
I change a wet diaper and while I fasten the tabs on the new one, Mr. Cute smiles, looking me in the eyes while he poops yet again. (yes, I know, somehow poop invades every time I write. I can’t help it. It’s where I’m at.)
I buy organized plates with sections for the main meals and sides, fill with healthy foods, and serve lunch.
My daughter picks up a utensil, eats half a spoonful, and initiates competition with her brother for who can throw peas the farthest. And who can land them in the most obscure place. (How did he aim for the barely open cabinet and land the mushed green legume between two stacked pans? And why did I freak out thinking I stuck my finger in a smushy bug when I eventually found it?)
I once tried to keep the playroom clean while they were playing in it. Ridiculous. Don’t do this; it’s an unattainable goal(duh!). I don’t recommend it. At. ALL. (I also don’t recommend giving rice for dinner after you have swept and mopped the kitchen floor.)
I do laundry. Loads and loads of tiny clothes. ONCE since I had kids I thought I had ALL the laundry completed at the same time. NO DIRTY CLOTHES anywhere in the house! Finally caught up for once!. I dance a silly happy dance to myself to celebrate till I remember the pile of muddy miniature clothes next to the bathtub.
FORGET IT. WHO NEEDS CLEAN CLOTHES ANYWAY.?!
For those of you reading this saying “Why is having all the laundry finished at the same time a big deal?”- You may be one of the Laid Back Ones. You may not struggle with this or any of my other hangups, and you are my twinkling little stars. I truly wonder HOW you are! I know there are strengths and weaknesses that everyone has, but I really envy you who can let go so easily! (I bet you laid back people are reading this saying “What is wrong with this type-A person?” Actually, I bet if you are laid back, you probably aren’t even worried about what type of person I am, so ha, even more things to envy you for!)
I am not a Laid Back One. I constantly have a list of goals in my mind. And keeping up with it all is tiring. I am good at it, but it is tiring.
I find myself SO. Tired.
I find myself forgetting to play with my kids because I am so concerned with picking up after them.
I find myself living somewhere between chores rather than the present.
I distract myself from finding the beauty in the mess because I am worried about meeting whatever standard I have mentally decided I need to keep up with.
I rob myself of the satisfaction of winning pea throwing contests. Cuz I would totally win
I think when I truly dig down to the real issue, it’s really my identity related to how much I control. If I can accomplish my goals then I feel like my world has a sense of order and it feels peaceful. I feel like I can allow myself to rest because I have worked hard. I feel good about myself. This isn’t always bad.
But, it’s not always good.
Each day my beautiful children give me a gift; they show me myself. They show me what I actually believe is important and when my priorities are wrong.
They show me my immaturity- sometimes I chase goals that don’t prioritize relationships over tasks. Sometimes I care more about a clean house than connecting with my kids.
They show me my insecurity- I feel varying levels of emotional distress based on how happy or sad they are. This is very unrealistic and I am working towards emotional health as I relate to and set boundaries for my children
Honestly, goals are good; having a clean home and happy kids is good too, but there is a problem if I need those things to be happy and peaceful throughout the day. Keeping up with goals isn’t the answer. Trying harder isn’t the answer.
And grace isn’t doing. It’s undoing.
It’s backwards. It’s not in the doing that brings value and worthiness and enjoyment. Grace says you, my beloved child, are enjoyable even when you throw your peas. Grace says you, my loved one, are valuable even when the house is a mess. In doing or undoing, grace says you are worthy.
My kids show me myself. They show me where I need to grow. My emotions are pushed to the limit as I realize that I can not keep them 100% happy 100% of the time. Like a personal trainer, my kids point out these weak areas and (figuratively) say “Hey, I’ll help you exercise this area so you can get stronger.” They also teach me about grace. They give me a truly astounding level of unmerited favor. No matter how many times I get my priorities wrong and get upset about thrown peas or messy playrooms, I’m still their favorite. I’m their go-to. They absolutely LOVE me. It’s ingrained into their very being. They think I’m the best mom ever. They don’t want a different mom. Sometimes they don’t even want their awesome dad. They want ME.
God’s grace is even more amazing. His grace, built into His very being, redefines my identity. I am not my failures or what I lack or where I am weak. Yes, Jesus sees the weakness in me and shows me where I need to grow, but just like my kids, completely adores me.
He doesn’t use grace to manipulate me emotionally, or hold it over my head as if I owe Him something. No- He does this while thinking I’m the best me ever. He absolutely LOVES me. He wants ME.
The same goes for you, no matter where you are in life. He wants you.
Grace is refinement of movement- a graceful person is someone who can navigate effortlessly through a situation that would otherwise appear very difficult. When grace, not accomplishment, defines us, we am free to navigate through difficult situations without tiring from my own efforts.
The only way I know to do this is to daily invite God’s grace to infuse my life. This is the gospel. It redefines how I identify and place value on myself. It refocuses my goals and priorities on what truly matters. It helps me let go of my need to accomplish the things that make me feel like I am ok.
Grace also tears my eyes away from the cage of introspection. It frees me to accomplish the things that matter out of a strong sense of identity and value and self-worth, something that I never could achieve by checking off my lists.
It frees me to experience the present (no matter the state of my house or the emotional state of my children) and begin to find happiness, rest and peace.
I am slowly becoming undone. Like a newborn, I find my soul unsure of the freedom, my identity not used to such freedom of movement, more secure in the dark close confinement found in checked boxes and accomplished goals.
The beautiful truth is that true peace and happiness are not found in doing, but in the undoing grace God has freely given to us.
So consider this your invitation to throw peas. I’ll join you. Let’s allow ourselves to enjoy it. We will laugh and then pick them up together. We may make a mess, and find a few smushed ones that need cleaning up later on, but we will enjoy the present.
Let’s cling to grace, our undoing.