Friday, March 22, 2013

Perfecting imperfection

Lately God has just been showing up with his grace and pouring love on me just when I need it.  The last 6 months have been really hard at times. It has exposed my ugliness and failure as a mom each day. I have been bone tired, worn out, from sleepless nights and full days.  As I tell John, they are not necessarily all bad days, just long and full ones. I think adding on the factor of adoption in our family, Satan has whispered lies to me even more so that I need to be the perfect mom.  That I need to make up with love and affection where they have missed out. That I need to provide these fun experiences and great memories to offset the trauma they have encountered.  That my parenting has to be 100% on target, packed with Biblical truths, grace, wisdom and compassion.  Every day I am far from that. 
However, it has made my prayers and dependency increase. It has made me stop relying on me and lean hard into Him. I ask God a lot what to do in situations and confess a LOT when I fall short hour by hour. But that is where God has been showering me with grace and his pleasure far more than in the easier chapters of my parenting. He has really shown me he cannot use a "perfect mom".  There is much more use in his kingdom for the broken vessel, the harlot, and the failure. Because that is where he shows up. 
I've realized over the last six months, even the last weeks in particular, that I do my kids an injustice to be, or appear to be, the perfect mom. You usually can't learn from a perfect person (aside from Jesus himself). It is at best frustrating at what you won't attain.  Good thing is that I am far from perfect.  So I need to acknowledge daily the brokenness of my vessel and point to the treasure I hold.  I need to live comfortably in my weakness and point my kids to how I tap into the surpassing power of Jesus in my failures.  This may be my greatest lesson I can teach them.  Confessing daily in front of them when I miss it, mess up, and fail epically.  It takes a great deal of self-awareness, vulnerability and intentionality in front of them to go back after a situation and apologize for getting frustrated. To pray in front of them asking God to forgive me and fill me with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.  In doing this in front of them, I can teach them how to fail and fall into the arms of Jesus. I fail every day, several times a day. I will never be the perfect mom. I will not create the perfect children.  But I know that when God looks at me he sees the perfection of Jesus. My record is perfect. My past is covered in righteousness. Not because of my worth or success as a woman, wife or mom, but because Jesus became sin for me and took my place. 
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:32
This has especially played out lately for my perfectionist first born.  I was with a friend one night and she was telling me about how we need to communicate to our kids that they are perfect in the eyes of God even in the midst of their failure because they are covered by His righteousness. This has made a big difference in my discussions with Reese. Especially being a single mother of three the last 8 days while John and Wheeler are in Kenya, there have been times we have both wronged each other. It has been such a great teaching moment to say, even when we mess up we don't have to sit in it for hours and days. We have the perfection and righteousness of Christ. So even if we don't get all checks on our math work, or even if you don't get that sticker for good behavior today at school, in Christ you did. You did receive those checks, that 100, those stickers, that pat on the back for perfect behavior. This isn't to encourage laziness and contentment with failure, but instead to let the pressure off for perfection because it has already been achieved and we don't have to. There is much more obedience in freedom instead of under pressure. Obedience comes more freely and with actual joy instead of with obligation and duty when we can grasp the grace of God. 
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
I do not have this all down or have it all together. But I guess I am perfecting my imperfection...I am moving towards being content at the way I was created and not always doubting his handiwork and comparing myself to someone else doing it "better". 
1 Peter 4:13- But  rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
When it comes down to it, our kids, adopted or not, don't need perfection. They don't need all smiles and perfect cheerful memories and unrealistic visions of what life looks likes. Because there has been suffering for them and it will only come more and more. It is how we respond and teach them to respond in that suffering that will bring a reaction of joy. 

This translates as well to our marriage. There will never be a perfect husband or perfect wife. It is loving each other in our failures is what Christ has set the example for. Christ will not leave us because we continually mess up. He will not give up on us when it gets hard. We cannot expect perfection out of someone who is not Christ, and we cannot expect to be perfect in a relationship here on earth.  We will mess up. They will mess up. Daily. But isn't that the beauty of the freedom in love that comes from Christ? We are here to show the tangible love of God to our spouse despite their failures. Such is the picture of Christ and the church.
So I know it comes as a shock to none that I am not the perfect mom or the perfect wife, none of us are. But thankfully there is beauty in ashes and strength in brokenness.

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