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Thursday, March 17, 2011

i don't have it all together.

this post is decorated with pictures of me keeping it real. what our house looks like in the midst of unpacking all our seattle boxes. i'm up to my eyes in boxes, so the kids are doing a LOT of playing. 

This past weekend, someone gave me one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever been given. I’m not a good compliment taker, probably like the other 93% of womankind, but this one I rubbed in and I immediately said thank you.

Let me back up.
What do you look like at church? Let me tell you, I’ve looked all different kinds of ways. There was a time, a majillion years ago, when I had no kids and no husband, and I was on staff at a church – I’d get meticulously dressed, take my purposely worn Bible with my purposely worn clothes, and march myself into the church I was on staff at. I loved Jesus, but I loved being who I was too. Maybe too much. No, definitely too much. I liked being on staff, being respected, and having my hair done. I liked thinking I had it all together, because I believed that it caused God to get more glory.

Fast forward a few years and a few years later and a woman once told me, “you look different to me {I know I’ve gained weight, lady}, but I knew it was you because you look so frazzled!”. That was not the best compliment I’ve ever received. I did look frazzled. I was frazzled. I had three kids under three and I mostly came to church only to escape to the nursing room, for the one time a week that I only had one child in my arms. I was a sweaty, frazzled mess. 

Rewind a few months ago from today, in the very beginning of my admittance of “the D word”, and I laid out in the back row at church and cried my eyes out by myself. I was exhausted, confused, depressed, anxious, and desperate to feel the Lord’s presence. I didn't even care that I was laid out prostrate on some pews. A few older women came and prayed over me and asked me if I was having “man problems”. I chuckled.  And then cried some more. Then Nick came back from the bathroom and I think he was understandably terrified to find a blubbering wife with some well-meaning lady saints trying to counsel me to break up with anyone that would make me feel that way - since I couldn't stop crying long enough to tell them I didn't have "man problems". 

But there has been healing recently and I’ve been so interested to see what going to church is like during healing. Because being around the body is such a good litmus test to see how we’re doing, you know? I certainly don’t have it all together, but I’m not collapsed on the back aisle anymore. I still need to be ministered to, to hear the preaching of the Word, to be held accountable – I’m not above any of those ministries and I really hope that pride in my heart never causes me to feel so. But at the same time, the Lord is burdening my heart to minister to others. To share the gospel again. On the internet, through muffins for friends, by cleaning my house before Nick gets home, with words, and of course - directly with my children and the small sphere of people I get to do life with. So presently - I’ve felt the tension of the two worlds I’ve lived in, in the past. Above being ministered to, having it all together OR being a big weapy mess on the back row. I think this is such a tension for me because I know the pressure that’s coming as a pastor’s wife, and here is what the Lord has kind of been pre-teaching me.

Wait, wait. Skip back to the compliment. Long story short, the woman I met this weekend told me that she’d seen me at church and she was really encouraged. That at first, she thought I had it all together and was frustrated and then saw me in action, saw me with my kids and saw how crazy they can be. She saw me get flustered and lived through me forgetting meeting her because of the flusterization. She saw me try to lead a meeting at a church, and stop mid-sentence a few times because Glory was tackling someone. And she was encouraged. Because I didn’t have it all together, and she could see God’s grace. Not mine, not my elegance or my cleverness, just God’s grace making something sweet of an unprofessional mom trying to relinquish control.

When you get a compliment like that, how do you deflect it? “Oh no – ma’am – God’s grace isn’t good! You’re mistaken! That’s all me, pulling myself up by the bootstraps!” (um, lies. False gospel, gross!) Or do you go the opposite way and get offended that she just said you didn’t have it all together? Heck no, you don’t! You don’t do either. You rub that compliment in and praise God for His grace. Praise God for progress. Praise God for confidence in Christ.

Because that’s the answer I feel like He’s teaching me as a woman and a mom, and a wife of someone signing up for lifelong vocational ministry. It isn’t extra godliness or extra righteousness that qualifies you for ministering to anyone. Please reread that sentence if you’re anything like me. (I know a few friends who are sighing deeply that I finally understand that sentence.) It isn’t extra godliness or extra righteousness that qualifies you for ministering to anyone. It’s grace that sustains. Grace that awakes you. Grace that enables you. Grace that saves you. Grace that equips and calls you. And confidence in Christ alone that moves you forward, by grace through faith, to ever minister to anyone. And if you’ve been broken before, or are now – there is no shame. No condemnation. If you’ll be broken again (me!), there is no shame. There’s only grace that comes from relationship with Christ crucified, raised again, welcoming us into God’s family.

This morning I was reading a Francis Chan book and he was telling story after story of people who just wasted their life on the gospel. Gave it ALL AWAY to know, love, and share Christ with others. And I was flabbergasted at the confident brokenness that was running out my eyes in the forms of sobs. Because maybe for the first time, I read stories like that – and wasn’t stuck in the shame of feeling not enough to live extravagantly for Him. All I could do was praise Him and thank Him for this high-calling of grace. To know my own sin (in part), and to find confidence in Christ (in full). To know we are called to Boston, I am called to the women on the internet who read my blog, and most essentially – we’re called to this family, to minister to them, speak truth to them, encourage them, walk in humility before them. And He’s equipped us.

We don’t have it all together.
Praise God. 

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