Sometimes, I look at my family and think, “I want to give you so much more. I want to love you more. I want to be there for you more.”
I have this longing, but then the action seems far from me. I grew up believing that you just work harder, you try harder and you push harder to do the right thing. You simply give your best effort and then God will love you, then you might be good enough, then you might make it through those pearly gates of glory.
But, striving only ends up producing in an overworked blown-out child.
Striving gives us the false belief salvation is on our shoulders and not God’s.
Striving pushes the need for love far and the will of self first and foremost.
Amidst all this striving, it is almost impossible to let the love of Christ’s sacrifice pour over you? Just think, there is no sitting with working. No relying with striving. No space for grace. It is called captive service.
You serve and do and be for God–or you don’t get in!
This makes me think, where is the love?
Even more, no matter how amazing our parents were, no matter how fantastic their love – the plain ‘ole fashioned truth is that they can never love us like Jesus did. They have flaws. And because of their inadequacies and flaws, we learn an inadequately flawed love too. We walk receiving, knowing and giving partial love.
So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child,
God has made you also an heir. Gal 4:7
Even God gets this point. This is why he tells us we are not a slave: a captive striver, an excessive worker, a ruled-over peon, an owned tool or a beaten serf. No. God tells us rather, that we sit in the full glory of who he is.
We are fully loved by the only one who created the definition of love. We are God’s child.
We get the glorious inheritance that is only stored away for God’s own. We are heirs.
We have the same love line as Christ running through us. His DNA is power. We are God’s child.
We are secure in what our father wants to bestow on us; our laziness can’t push it away. We are heirs.
We are new creations, being reformed into the full image of Jesus Christ. We are God’s child.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,
if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Ro. 8:17
May your sufferings not be seen as agony,
but as gifts that confirm your destiny.
May your pain not be run away from,
but held as the ticket that shows how loved you are.
May your agony not be lived in agony,
for it is simply a precursor to the glory that will shine on you.
Because your whole self is sealed in a way that can never be torn apart. The Spirit lives in you. You can never eliminate his presence or the temple in you, as a child of God.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” Eph 1:13
The Spirit confirms your belonging.
The Spirit speaks to your very heart.
The Spirit leads you in all truth.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Ro. 8:16
No matter what turn we make, as a child of God, we are united with the Spirit that confirms our Father’s love. It holds us in all love, safety and significance. This eternal kingdom, belonging to “the children”, cannot be undone. Or erased. It is finished, on our behalf, by Jesus Christ.
Now, we can walk love. We can be love. Real love. Not from a place of doing, but simply from a place of being. Being a son or daughter of the most high king.
We stood at the toll being reprimanded by the officer, “You deserve a ticket!”
Just like I deserve a good whacking for yelling at my kids. Just like I deserve a talking to on how to do things right with my family. Just like I deserve to be punished for how my jealous heart of comparing surfaces.
Just as I, apparently, deserve two points for this offense. Man, I messed up again. Why can’t I just get things right?
“Pull on up and pull over to the side of the road. I will be with you in a minute.” We did. We pulled up and waited and prayed and hoped that the worst case scenario wouldn’t come true.
Our hearts pumping, our minds plotting, our hands rubbing, anxiety filled the car. The policeman sauntered up to our window, looked at us and said, “Go ahead. Move along.”
We got no ticket. We were freed.
What we deserved was passed off. The hand slap that should have come down on us was caught.
The frustration at our mistake, quickly dissipated. The weight of anxiety on our shoulders, was exchanged for praise – we were saved.
Grace saves every time. Not just to push us, deviants, into heaven, but to push us, deviants, into God’s hands moment by moment, interaction by interaction and thought by thought.Not embraced just on bad days, but also on good days. Not just according to repentance, but according to our daily living.
Knowing that no word spoken against you can overpower the truth
that you’re “blameless.”
Extending kindness to yourself because there is not one time Jesus wouldn’t.
Telling your children, “We all make mistakes. Mommy does too.”
Not tossing out that coloring drawing you did in front of your son
because you think it is ugly.
Speaking “peace” to a heart that is guilt-laden with the overwhelming feeling
it can’t do right.
Finding a way to condone a good action, rather than to condemn a bad one.
Letting your heart be encouraged by the idea that you are a work in progress,
not a work of failure.
Remembering that all beginnings of beauty,
have a starting point that is treasured by God.
Abiding through the bad, because, with Jesus,
you are always on the brink of his great.
Believing in God’s ability to save in the same way you tell others they should.
Being okay with not winning, because Jesus already has.
Understanding that Christ has won, this moment, right here, right now, for you.
Keeping your mouth shut, in the assurance that your sovereign God
will take care of things.
Speaking love when your first thought is to speak fire, annoyance,
frustration, criticism and condemnation.
Walking towards one that you desperately want to walk away from.
Embracing the one who has historically battle-wounded you
to the point where you feel crippled.
Believing God could actually love one who fails as much as you –
and as much as others have failed you.
Letting go of lingering shame and walking into the idea that grace fully “counts.” Forgiving your own heart even when it did the worst.
Finding hope in situations that appears hopeless.
Finding Jesus no matter what.
Finding praise as a result.
Breathing in love.
This is amazing grace. It is the weight of all the bad that everyone deserves, everyone earned and everyone should confined to. It is weight that sits dense, heavy, burdening. It is the weight, we love to sling around, hitting ourselves and others.
Yet, grace is the due burden that God decides should no longer be our burden.
So, I wonder, why do we walk around carrying it?
Take a moment, remember your most recent mess up. One that you really came down hard on yourself for. Can you see it?
Jesus also sees what you did.
He hands you the ticket envelope.
You look at it. You feel it. You hate it.
You messed up.
You did wrong.
You almost tuck it away, not wanting to really see what God has for you.
But, you don’t.
You open it.
Inside the envelope, you see it… Nothing.
There is no ticket there.
While you thought you were convicted,
Christ leaves you unafflicted.
While you figured you were done,
Jesus says you have only yet begun.
You walk with your fine, but Jesus says,
with me, you’re just fine.
Do you live this way? I often don’t.
But, I should because:
One who is uncharged, is unchained to shame. One who is unchained to shame, is the greatest player in God’s game. One who is in God’s game, is giving fame to his name.
One who gives all fame to his name, is the greatest threat to the devil.
They are kingdom-makers on earth.
They are peace-forgers in war-torn lands.
They are shame-healers to other’s pains.
They are heavenly-visionaries of Christ’s love.
They are the wonder, the awe and the thrill of all the grace always falling from the cross.
They are the magnets that draw in the bleeding, gasping and dying hearts just barely surviving the world.
They are looking to see how we handle what we call – amazing.
Are we capsules of his amazing grace,
ready to pour out his medicine,
or do we allow shame to close down the effectiveness of God’s grace?
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:9
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The busy highway turned into a parking lot. I gripped the steering wheel and willed the cars ahead of me to move. Not one budged. I was going to be very late picking up my daughter from preschool and I worried that she was feeling sad and scared as she waited for me. When I finally arrived at her school, I found her sitting alone at her table. She was wearing her pink coat with a matching hat; her princess themed back pack was resting over her slumped shoulders. When I called out her name, her little head popped up like a gopher emerging from its tunnel.
“Mommy,” she exclaimed!
Reaching out for my embrace, she turned her head slightly toward her teacher and confidently said, “I just knowed my mommy would never leave me.”
Do you hold such confidence in your heavenly Father?
Do you know that He’ll never leave you?
I ask because deep down in my soul, I didn’t always believe this truth. I believed it in part, but not in whole. I believed that God, the creator of the universe, was always present in His creation. I believed that if I were oppressed, victimized, or sick, He would be with me in those dark hours. I also believed that He celebrated each milestone and victory in my life.
What I had trouble believing is that God
would stay by my side during the times I failed.
When people or the stuff of this world hurt me, I found my strength in knowing that I was a child of God and that He would not forsake me. Yet, when I was the promise-breaker, liar and the selfish hoarder, I felt not only shame and sorrow for my actions, I felt alone. That perceived desolation, which was stationed on a lie and wrapped with guilt, often kept me from crying out to my Savior.
I took God’s promises from John 3:16-17 and added the word “unless.”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”Unless you mess up in a big way.
With the added unless, I completely ignored John 3:17
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
I rewrote the meaning of grace and lived as if it didn’t apply to me. But Grace is without limits. Grace blatantly steps over our human-made boundaries and says I haven’t left you. I will never leave you. Rest in me. Trust me. Live for Me, because I will never let you go.
Scripture does not read, He will never leave you or forsake you unless you take the Lord’s name in vain, or unless you commit adultery, or unless you yell at your kids, or unless covet your neighbor’s house.
Yes, our actions have consequences. No, God does not want us to chose our sinful desires over His perfect gifts. But once we’re His, he won’t leave us. He never longs for us to self destruct. Instead, He hears our cries and invites us into His open arms.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long;we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8: 35-38.
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Angela Nazworth is a flawed and forgiven recovering perfection who writes mostly about the beauty of grace, faith, friendship, vulnerability and community at angelanazworth.com. She is a wife and a mother of two, who manages philanthropic communications for a nonprofit, national healthcare association. Angela’s also an encourager, a lover of good books, coffee, girl’s night out, sunshine, and waterfalls. She believes the creator of the universe is both the author of and lead character in her life story. With every experience she learns more about who she is in Him … and takes another step on her journey to love others better. You can also chat with Angela via Twitter.
I have been noticing a red-flag pattern lately. It’s ugly. It’s injuring. It’s hard to admit. And when I take a long hard look at it, I think it might say a lot more about me than it does about anyone else.
People are letting me down.
Saying no when they’re supposed to say yes.
Not following through on what they said they would do.
Acting not nice and making me pay the price.
Lying, thinking I don’t know.
Hurting, then walking away.
Promising and not delivering.
People are letting me down.
When I look at these five words, I see so much expectation. I see the words, “Please, be nice, don’t hurt me and give me what I need,” but what I also see, upon stepping back, is a small air of demand shining. In a way I’m saying: “People, get lifting me up!” Then: “God, why do you allow this to happen?”
God, though. God, he doesn’t answer yelling demands with a cowering spirit. He doesn’t bow down to our attacks for more to let our feelings establish his. He doesn’t retaliate based on questions. Instead, he compels our hearts to realize he is far less concerned about “should have’s” because Jesus “already has.” He already died to make us worthy. He has given us all we need. We are more than enough. Sturdy. Steady. Unwavering in hope.
In this, he doesn’t promise we “will have”
the best people can offer,
because we already have
the best he could
(which is more than enough).
Jesus never said:
People will always say yes, when they are supposed to say yes.
They will follow through on what they say they will do.
They will act nice and you will feel great.
No one will hurt you.
They won’t ever take from you.
So, perhaps it is time that I stop letting people, injuries and insults dethrone my God. Perhaps it is time that when they come, I let his Word reign. Perhaps it is time, I stand steady in truth, love and hope when I am inclined to move like a tossing punching bag.
I no longer want to take my eyes off of Jesus and place it on insults. Because when I do I move my hearts from the station that fills peace to one that sucks life. I drive to a mindset that will hurt me every time.
If I keep my eyes on God’s ways, he will give me the energy to move forward in them. To love the unlovable with them.
God knows, this is why he says: Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. Mt. 7:1 Take the log out of your own eye to see clearly the speck in your neighbor’s. Mt. 7 Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 3:12 Do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Mic. 6:8 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Mt. 11:28
A heart locked into the hole of God’s love and mercy will not fall down as easily. It will stay steady. It will remain effective. It will hold in hard times. It will open the door to his more, even when people treat us as less.
It hits me with a sledgehammer a lot. Normally, it concentrates it’s whacks in one place. For me, it is in my mothering. So often, I ask myself: Am I fun enough? Caring enough? Playful enough? Instructional enough? I walk around trying my hardest, while, all at the same time, feeling at my neediest, my guiltiest.
Just the other day, my 4-year old son looked at me and said, “Mommy, I love daddy a little bit more than you.”
HUH? After all I do for you! (then the tsunami rushed over me sweeping away all value I have as a mother).
Do you, son?
Yes, but not a ton, just a little bit more.
May I ask you why?
Well, you look a little strange, mom. I mean, your body is more odd than mine. If you were like daddy and me, then I would love you the same.
And there you have it. While I was walking around defeated, hunched over and breathless at the thought of piles and mounds and landfills of failing, my son was just being a 4-year old in his 4-year old world. He was simply saying, it’s not you mommy, it’s just a phase.
How often do we look at things that have nothing to do with us
and immediately feelings of guilt?
In a way, we load up all the bad things about ourselves into a huge offering of inadequacy and put it before the feet of Jesus and say, “I stink. What are you going to do about it?”
Certainly we don’t want to do the opposite and act like this: “This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’” Prov. 30:20
One unable to see their wrongs is one
unable to allow Jesus to make them right.
Yet, we have no need for this: When anyone is unfaithful to the LORD by sinning unintentionally in regard to any of the LORD’s holy things, they are to bring to the LORD as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect…It is a guilt offering. Lev. 5:15
Sacrificing our own animal instincts, unloved emotions and bad feelings upon an altar of guilt is not a standard that God upholds anymore.
So, why do we keep doing it?
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:21
The one without defect is not found in our self.
The one without defect is not admonished of guilts
through a continuous offering of side effects.
The one without defect never has been and never will be us.
The one without defect is the one sledgehammered to a cross to abolish us from the painful rendering of guilt-laced feelings so long ago.
If we feel unsure. His blood says, “Do your best and trust me with the rest.”
If we reside in shame, his blood says, “Don’t hang out with lowly feelings, let me clean you through my healing.”
If we sin, his blood says, “Confess and know that I have covered that.”
What cause to celebrate! What need to rejoice! What once noosed us has no rope. What held us back is no longer the starting gate we can’t leap out of. What cripples us is let go in the free grace of Jesus’ love.
A love that says, “Live free. I will take you to where you need to go, trust me in the process. I don’t demand no flaws, just full trust.”
As I look at my Savior, I see full acceptance. And I see that what grips me so often is gripping his life out of me.
Do you live by the pulse of your feelings
or do you live by the pulse of God’s great heart beating only for you?
Lord, may our conscience align with your truth. Not the truth of our feelings, but only truth as only outlined by your Word. May we live full of the fact that you are not demanding perfection, but are aware of our imperfection until the day that you make it complete in Christ Jesus. More and more we are growing into you. Until then, we have all we need to live complete. Give us a fresh outpouring of your grace, so that we can know it and live it. Amen.
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For a long time, I believed a lie which is threatening the very heartbeat of our church. It sneaks in like a slow poison and its symptoms are often loss of joy, endless business and little time for meaningful relationships.
It doesn’t announce itself with brazen warning signs or even seem evident in the sanctuary on Sunday morning. But it’s there, and it’s threatening the gospel message Christ was crucified to bring to the lost and weary.
It pollutes the hope of our Redeemer and plants the seed of doubt. It says we can never do enough, be enough or work enough. Our salvation is not free, but is bought with a price.
It’s the message of striving.
Most of the time it’s presented with splashes of so-called grace along with it, but at the core it’s the same.
Because grace cannot be watered down. The gospel doesn’t say it is by grace plus works that you are saved through faith. No, God doesn’t need us, but through his love he chooses to use us.
I had it all wrong. I always thought family was this ship you had to keep moving in the right direction. One that all crew members needed to approach in tandem, knowing their role and pushing through to the next destination. With this, I figured, it was my job as mom to run a tight ship.
Efficiency was key: Get those shoes on and be in the car by the time I get out of the bathroom. Rules were paramount: I set the guidelines, you follow them. My authority reigned: Don’t question, just obey or else! My voice counted: Don’t express opinions, just express a head nod and move that dish to the dishwasher.
I don’t know when I turned into such a jerk. In the moment, there is always a way to justify it (how else are you going to get things done, the kids won’t respect you, the house will be a mess, perfection will sink into oblivion). Somehow family, for me, turned into a model-toy that I was carefully constructing according to instructions, schedules and guidelines. All parts were required to fit within my needs. I moved them according to my desires.
With this knowledge, my heart has been on a journey to change course; it is pursuing a redirect. Just the other day, my son looked at me to say, “Mom, that’s a mean voice.” My initial response was to say, “Son, that is not mean. If you want to hear mean, I could really show you mean.”
But, if I am going a new path that means I have to try new things. I looked at him and said, “You thought that was mean?” His head nodded.
What he thought was mean, I thought was on level 2 of my stern-voice scale, but still, I was trying and trying counts for something, so I tried some more.
“I am sorry. I will speak nicer, son.”
The day progressed and so did my heart. A heart just trying – trying to be calm, to be present, to be aware, to be humble, to be eager to love, and quick to let go of to-do’s. By days end, I felt shipwrecked, but what happened next brought buoyancy back.
At story time, this 4-year old outer-space pajama clad kid looked up at me to say, “Mommy, I am sorry too for all the mean things I have been speaking to you.”
And, there it was, what seemed like galaxy of distance, came together in a meteor crash of sense. He is just the same as me. He feels the same too. We are in this together.
Family united, rather than divided.
What I build in myself, I build in him. What I forge around me, will be forged around him too. What I lay down, he will have permission to lay down as well. What is hard to do, we can try to do as one.
At days end, I don’t want to give him me as I am today. I want to give him full of grace, sailing with mercy, loaded with compassion, flying with patience. I want him to have all of that. I want more for that beauty. And, in a way, in this day, I gave him a small ride towards this. And, one day – counts. It counts for something; I will take that and own that and relish in that.
Small beginnings matter.
When I simply understand, when I take a minute, when I sit down, when I listen, when I confess, when I become humble, the family makes strides towards godliness. Together we move ahead, not to my pre-set plans, but to God’s pre-set sanctification. We move towards what is greatest, rather than what I deem as great.
Jesus relates to me when I am weak. He sympathizes with that kind of thing. He says, that testing you are going through, me too Kelly, me too.
We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.
He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.
So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
Heb. 4:15 MSG
What will we choose in the rapid-fire moments of “family”?
Will we choose to to take a stand in our ways or
will we choose to stand in God’s mercy?
Will we accept his help or will we drive the helpers?
Will we chart a course or will we enjoy the ride?
The second we set down the burden of pride set upon our shoulders of despair is the second we rise up in the freedom of surrender that finds itself in the shadow of the eagles wing. Work falls to the wayside and we see things from new heights, with new vision and new hope. We soar. We let go. We glide. We ride.
“What a relief,” we say,
“We never knew it could be this easy!”
And we sail.
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Is. 40:31
Love sees a wrong and rights it.
Love walks into a heart to open it.
Love loves when it doesn’t feel like it.
Love climbs over tall walls that stand before it.
Love crushes the obstacles surrounding it.
Love sets down swords to bring bouquets of flowers. Love beats out pain over time,
to touch the most callous heart.
Love doesn’t count the cost.
Love doesn’t add up the damages.
Love doesn’t dwell in the days of old, but sees to the dreams of new.
Love doesn’t lose its pumping arms of endurance.
Love doesn’t move away from always-there, glimmer-of-light hope.
Love doesn’t part from passionate perseverance.
Love doesn’t see eye-constricting anger, but ever-flowing grace.
Love doesn’t forgive once, but 1000 times.
Love doesn’t always feel happy, but finds smiles through prayer. Love doesn’t always have answers, but seeks God’s solutions.
Love lets the definers and originators
of the word make it come alive.
When our arms fall down and our back falls back,
Father God, the Son and the Holy Spirit step up.
They teach us the real meaning of the word.
Then we see how love wins even when it feels like it is losing.
Love isn’t easy and Jesus proves that to us.
Love sometimes mean being seemingly nailed and beaten by those we love. Love still remains.
It still works out. Love knows the alternative to love is hate and hate is the quick funnel to all pain, agony and despair. So love continues on…
Love never fails.
Love seeks truth.
Love fights for itself.
Love continues to die to self, and live to Christ.
Love brings life. Love wins in the end.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Cor. 13:4-8
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Occasionally you meet a person you know is an instant friend. Location doesn’t matter, distance doesn’t care and methods of communication aren’t valid – what you know is that this one counts for something. This is how I feel about Rachel Macy Stafford. She shines all things pure and beautiful and it is my delight to know and love her.
In other exciting news, Rachel’s latest book, HANDS FREE LIFE, has permanently marked my heart with awe-inspiring and heartfelt life change. I feel my life going from bouncy ball crazy, to focused and intentional. I feel my attention moving from scattered to attentive. I feel my heart charging from empty to full again. I feel grace speaking, rather than condemnation. This book has reserved a permanent spot on my bookshelf of “keepers;” I will be referencing her words for my whole life, I know that. Thank you Rachel, just thank you. I feel your love in this book.
Welcome to Purposeful Faith as a guest contributor for a day.
Understandably, many people want to talk to me about distraction. More specifically, they want to tell me about the distraction incidents they witness in their neighborhoods, at restaurants, parks, and sporting events. They want to tell me about the texting drivers sitting next to them at stoplights. Many well-intentioned people want to tell me how sad it makes them feel to see distracted people oblivious to their loved ones.
I must admit, these comments make me uncomfortable.
My mission for sharing my Hands Free journey is not to bash the distracted people of the world. My mission for sharing this journey is to bring awareness … namely, self-awareness … the kind of self-awareness I was lacking a few years ago.
Because you see, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about where I came from.
I was that distracted person oblivious to her loved ones.
I was that distracted person texting at stoplights.
I was that distracted person who made excuses as to why I was too busy to spend quality time with my family.
I was that distracted person who couldn’t see my beautiful life slipping right through my busy little fingers.
But I can assure you the judgment was harsh. The judgment was cruel. It was downright unbearable at times. But this condemnation didn’t come from an outside observer, well-meaning friend, or loving companion. Oh no, this ridicule came directly from me.
If you have read my “About Hands Free” page then you know that taking an honest look at the way I was living (or more accurately, not living) was a necessary step in my Hands Free life transformation. In fact, meaningful efforts to let go of distraction would have never happened (or lasted) without honestly evaluating the cost of my distraction.
But despite the fact that assessing my behavior was a vital step in changing my distracted ways, living in regret was not. I’ve come to realize that continually berating myself over what I missed is a waste of precious time. Self-forgiveness and healing have been just as much a part of this journey as my difficult truths.
But every now and then I get waves of remembrance—a taste of “life overwhelmed”, just enough to sting me, just enough to bring tears to my eyes.
It happened the other day. I’d stayed up too late working the night before. I had several deadlines to meet, and I was not as close as I hoped on any of them. I needed to get the kids to a swim meet. We were late. I was tired. The word “Mama” began every single sentence that came from my children’s lips whether I was actually needed or not.
And there I stood in front of the pantry, unable to remember what I came there to get. Part of me wanted to shut the door to that little space, huddle under the boxes of Fiber One cereal, and cry.
That’s when I heard it.
It didn’t use the exact phrase that originated in the years of my highly distracted life, but it came painfully close.
“You are a bad mom”was the token phrase my inner bully liked to hiss during my highly distracted years whenever I felt like I was falling short in the parenting department. I’d almost forgotten I used to say such hurtful things to myself.
But then again, I don’t think I will ever completely forget.
I gave up on whatever it was that I intended to get from the pantry and told my children I needed a moment. I went to my bedroom and turned on my fan for soothing white noise and began reminding myself.
I reminded myself that The One who loves me, The One who took my hand and placed me on this transformative journey, still loves me even when I fail miserably.
I reminded myself that I am not perfect and that even the “best” parents have their moments of self-doubt and frustration.
I reminded myself of how I reacted when a tornado came scarily close to our house. It was the day I realized the fierce love I have for my family outweighs my shortcomings, failures, and imperfections.
I would run through fire to spare them.
I would beg kidnappers to take me in order to free them.
I would offer my plasma, my organs, and every single one of my limbs to save them.
I would sacrifice my life without hesitation, without question, if it meant allowing my loved ones to live.
Even in my most distracted, overtired, stressed-out state, my fierce love for my family is always ready, willing, and able.
Once I was finished reminding myself of these important things, I said a prayer of thanks and released a heavy sigh. I centered my disheveled, puffy-eyed self directly in front of the bathroom mirror and said one word.
As in: Give yourself some, Rachel.
A few minutes later, my children and I were on our way to the swim meet. I turned on one of our favorite songs, which beautifully articulates the value of human scars and imperfections. I felt a slight smile come to my lips as I listened to my children belt out the chorus from the backseat:
“These bruises, Makes for better conversation Loses the vibe that separates
It’s good to let you in again You’re not alone in how you’ve been Everybody loses—we all got bruises.”
I suddenly feel better.
I just needed a moment.|
Don’t we all?
I think we all do—at some point in our day … our week … our life—need a moment.
And so when I hear someone describing the unbecoming behavior of a distracted person, I cannot join in the condemnation. I once was that person and remain a work-in-progress. And that is okay. That is human.
The other day, someone I love and respect as a parent and human being said something powerful to me. My mother said, “Rachel, even at your most distracted, you were always a good parent.”
With those words, the divine light of forgiveness shined like a beacon for my misdirected soul.
Even on days when I can’t tear myself away from my distractions …
Even on days when I overreact over something trivial …
Even on days that I obsess over bulges and wrinkles and things that don’t matter one bit in the end …
Even on days when I want to lock myself in the pantry and weep …
Even on days when I am at my worst,
I remain that person who would sacrifice her life
to spare her loved ones from pain and tragedy.
Perhaps you know someone who would make the same sacrifice. I bet you do.
So when you see that less-than-perfect woman or man staring back at you in the mirror … or the one at the restaurant who can’t quite seem to put down the phone and see the gifts in front of him or her … I ask that you extend grace, rather than judgment.
Rachel Macy Stafford is the founder of www.handsfreemama.com where she provides simple ways to let go of daily distraction and grasp what matters most in life. She is the New York Times bestselling author of HANDS FREE MAMA. Her highly anticipated book, HANDS FREE LIFE, releases in one week! It is a book about living life, not managing, stressing, screaming, or barely getting through life. Through truthful story-telling and life-giving Habit Builders, Rachel shows us how to live better and love more despite the daily distractions and pressures that try to pull us away.
Those who pre-order HANDS FREE LIFE from now
until September 7 receive the FREE e-book of HANDS FREE MAMA.
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There is one small shiny nugget that will make all the difference in your faith walk if you truly dig down and find it.
Not in a cliched,
I have known this forever,
of course it’s truth,
I say I believe it…kind of way.
But in a real, I seizing it, I am rushing to it, I will never depart from it or let go of it – kind of way.
Moving this foundational truth from background noise to real and present truth, changes it all. Moving it from head to heart will transform your faith.
You’ll more easily move from claimed by the past to claimed by God. From owned by people’s words to owned by the owner of it all. From feeling guilty forever to feeling exalted forever.
The small nugget is: knowing, not just thinking, God loves you.
So many times, I have lost my way without this deep-down heart-felt belief (usually when trials hit me 100-mi/min). Yet, when every morsel of my being, and every part in my heart feels unsure, unsteady and unable, I am starting to tap into God’s unbelievable strength. It stands waiting to become my fall back position, resuscitating my life – if only I give it that chance.
Is God’s real and valid love your fall back position?
Does it catch you from landing in pits of fear, anxiety and depression?
Does it fly you high to new levels of peace and security?
As we fall into this iron clad truth, the lies explode, and combust.
Lies can’t exist amidst the full power of peace.
Knowing this, I want to seek God’s love like a gold rush. I want to go after it. It is that valuable. I need it. I almost can’t live without it; I certainly can’t live joyfully.
May we rush after God’s love as much as we rush after plans to fix and change the things that ail us. Perhaps, then we will find the greater gift.
As we park ourselves in God’s heart of love – as we sit down in it –
we rest under the safe-covering of his hand.
When the burdens of life smother, sit down in his love.
When the feelings of I can’t come at you a mile a minute, sit down in his love.
When the weight of finances crush like a 100-pound gorilla, sit down in his love.
Love that says:
I engraved your name on my hand. Is. 49:16
I know how many hairs are on your head. Mt. 10:30
I love you in an everlasting way. Jer. 31:3
You sinned, I eagerly died for you. Ro. 5:8
I sent my own kid to rescue you. 1 Jo. 4:10
You may fall, but you can’t fall from me. Ro. 8:39
His love is best summarized as this: freeing handcuffs that lock you as forever his, not because of what you did, but because of what he did.
His love can’t be undone. Not when you remember back, not when you feel like you left God, not when you said that thing, not when you did that thing, not when you accept him at the last minute, not when you feel shame, not when regrets hit you, not when problems surface.
It always is. It always is – for you.
God wants you to have it. Nothing can thwart it. It belongs to you.
Life can’t hold you back from it. Trials can’t keep you from it. God defines it. Yet, He waits for you to receive it.
Keep in God’s love.
Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 1:21
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