Occasionally someone will comment on how well I do everything, or how I seem to be successful at all I do. This is of course makes me blush, laugh hard and also cringe a little too. I certainly try to do all that God desires of me, and I hope this is seen by others to bring glory to Him. However, I hope I never cause discouragement in others because they think I am perfect or have arrived. By no means! There is much I would love to do or that I would like to do better. If I portray perfection, I am not being transparent enough.
It seems everywhere I am turning lately, I hear (read) of another awesome mom who realizes anew that she just can't do it all. And people, these are what I consider great moms! Great women, God-fearing women at that. So it has had me pondering (and praying) quite a bit recently. What is it we're supposed to be doing? What makes us successful? How can I possibly come close to a Proverbs 31 woman? While I certainly don't claim to have it all figured out (please insert a big belly-laugh here) I do want to share some things I believe God's showing me.
We can't do it all. That's a big one, because, let's face it, we try. Really, really hard. And then we're stuck looking at all we have managed to not do. There's a reason Solomon asks in Proverbs 31, who can find this virtuous woman? He proceeds to list off all that counts towards this perfect woman. Well, she doesn't exist. Before the fall, before we began living in a fallen world, God did have a perfect family plan. But that's not the world we live in and the truth is we all have fallen short. No matter what we do to make it all happen, it just won't.
Don't worry, I'm not being Debbie-Downer here, because once again, God has provided a way out. (Phew!) One of my favorite passages is in Romans 12 (MSG) and has continued to edify me in many, many circumstances.
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
I love how simple the grace of God is! I like to complicate things and get overwhelmed with figuring out every little detail so I do (or think) something perfectly. God may be mysterious and more than we can comprehend, but one thing is for sure: He wants how much He loves us to be very clear.
This passage helps narrow my focus. (Sometimes it's good to be narrow-minded.) When I get bogged down with an endless to-do list or all that I am falling short in accomplishing, I remember to narrow my focus to pinpoint exactly what I'm to do next. I re-submit my life (walking, talking, breathing) to God and remember what is most important. He measures my success by how much I love Him and am submitted to Him. He doesn't judge me on how pretty my home is (although He gives us creative spirits) or how clean my kitchen is or how well-folded the laundry is (if it's folded at all). I believe that the Creator of the Universe has within His power to allow us the creativity to get done all that is most important when our lives are laid down before Him.
And what is most important? While I believe the details vary from person to person, it's not what we're generally hearing from the world. We are to be different! Now, I know I'm going out on a limb here, but we are not 'less-than' for not having a career, my fellow stay-at-home-moms. Giving our entire lives over for the raising and nurturing of our children to be strong, confident, secure and morally-rooted adults is an amazing task. And if you work, hear my heart, I'm not judging you. It is between you and God how you best submit and live out your life before Him. My point is, when we take the time for the most important (loving God, loving our families, and loving others) things in our lives, that is when we feel successful. That's when we can lift our eyes to God and feel approval. Sure it's nice to have a clean, picked up home. (Believe me, I love it on the rare occasion every room is such....at least I think I would.) But sitting with my little boys and playing with them because one just has to be in my lap and have mommy-time makes my heart feel full.
I hope God does give me the grace to get many things done. I pray I have the creativity of time to can, clean, launder, cook and most of all, love as much as I desire. But I also focus that in my future I will never sacrifice what has eternal value so that you see a tidy living room. I will strive everyday towards being all that He has for me, but I pray that my occasional disarray will represent right priorities to you and also that we are all in progress as He perfects us through His grace.
Now, to be transparent, and hopefully encouraging, here is a tour of my home at this moment. No holding back, or picking up, I promise! Welcome to my work in progress...