I got up 15 minutes past when I said I wanted to the night before. I took longer to decide on what to wear than needed, especially for a day when the only humans I would see beyond my own family were the other basketball parents lined up awkwardly on the middle school floor during my son’s basketball practice later that evening. Pairing a sweater and scarf with comfortable pants and yesterday’s makeup was the best I came up with even after standing in the closet far too long.
I headed out my bedroom door with Jesus on my heart. My target, the little brown chair in our front living room where I sit for morning quiet time. The last few days during this special time were sweet. On this morning I woke with God on my mind first thing. Time with Him to start off the day fills me up and centers me. I long for His voice, His thoughts, His gentle whispers when the house is still sleeping and it feels for a moment as though He and I are the only thing that matters.
I was tired and hit snooze though. I wanted Jesus and I wanted sleep.
The moose’s fault.
I was up too late writing the night before. When I finally decided to walk away from the computer, I remembered Monty. Around Christmas time when other families pull out the little mischievous elf on the shelf, our family dusts off Monty the moose. Why Monty instead of the clever fellow in red tights? Basically because I am cheap.
Years ago I looked into the elf and was shocked at how much the silly guy or his female counterpart cost, so I decided to use a christmas looking moose stuffed animal we already owned at home. Thus Monty the Mischievous Moose was born. I admit, I started the moose shenanigans naively. Somehow I did not realize I was signing up for a another Christmas tradition.
I jovially scrolled through one of my social media feeds noting the cute pranks a scrawny looking red suited elf boy played on my former youth pastor’s children. “How adorable,” I thought. “I should do that.” What I did not consider was how I now added trying to figure out another act of trickery for Monty to transact each night to the already long list of holiday traditions and duties.
My holiday activity to-do list often wears me out. By Christmas afternoon all I want is a nap, not presents. Baking, parties, shopping, gift wrapping, and now I foolishly added Christmas frolicking with a moose, usually at 11:30 at night because Monty duty often slips my mind until my eyeballs are burning and screaming, “Please freaking shut me!” Rather than obeying, I find myself tying a stuffed animal moose to our family tree with toilet paper.
I do this because I love my children, and as a thoughtful mom I want to create special memories for them to cherish forever. But sometimes I feel more tired than nostalgic. Sometimes I need a time out. Therefore, the temptation to hit the snooze comes hard at 6 am. I caved in that morning and even after waking, I was still walking around in a fog, not moving fast enough to get downstairs to the brown chair and Jesus patiently waiting for me.
Off to the races?
I exited my room at 6:40. This was actually the second exit. The first came at 6:10 when I made my morning rounds to rouse the slumbering high schoolers. I never know if the oldest will actually get his 16 year old rumpus out of bed, but the 14 year old is faithful and sure as the rising of the sun. She never oversleeps, unless she is sick.
Her room was still dark though at 6:40. “Is she ill?” I wondered. After a quick investigation I discovered the 16 year old was strangely ready for the bus while the 14 year old over-slept and missed it. I should have realized right then and there the morning may be a little wonky. Now, the brown chair would have to wait…a drive to school took precedence.
I was encouraged by one momentary thought. I will still have time when I return before the littles need to get up to squeeze in prayer and study. All was not lost. When I returned, one of the three had already woken up and dressed. Of course, the information was concealed from me until the moment I settled into my chair. I hadn’t even picked up my bible yet.
Instead of soaking up the encouragement God had stored up for me today, I was face to face with a distraught nine year old brandishing a quivering lip and tear-filled eyes to boot. Apparently the hand-me-down pants he chose for the days outfit required a belt. In his sweet but alarmingly militant and unyielding childhood mind, he needed the belt immediately.
Just keep them moving.
I perhaps insensitively shooed him into the kitchen towards breakfast with a promise to sort out the belt dilemma in a bit, when I noted the time. The other children needed to get up. Back upstairs I went, greeted by two sleepy and reluctant children. We soon discovered one was still missing her hairbrush since yesterday and the other peed the bed.
The brush was found under the bed. Then off to the laundry room I go with wet bed clothes in hand. After emerging from the laundry room a few moments later, I hear a horrible screech coming from the kitchen resembling my six year old little girl. Down the stairs I quickly dashed to play mediator for whatever squabble had sprung up in the short time it took to load sheets in the washing machine.
Rounding the corner from the stairs to the kitchen hallway I was met with two children arguing over whether the present Monty left them last night was the new Peanuts Movie or the older 1965 version. “Really, that was what the screaming was about? Good thing I did not hurt myself barreling down the stairwell because it sure sounded like someone was dying.”
Praise God that sentence only came to my mind not my lips. I am growing! But before I could pat myself on the back of my stretched out, pelted, pink sweater, I noticed my belt boy still crying at the table without even a hint of a breakfast crumb before him. Is he seriously still crying about the dumb belt? I told him I would help him find one after breakfast.
Can’t we all just get along?
My thoughts were interrupted by another verbal altercation, this time involving the annoyance of the eleven year old by his sister swinging her dangling legs at the table. Apparently stopping was impossible because as she explained, she had a serious case of the wiggles. My eleven year old was not amused. “Please, just eat your breakfast.” I sighed. “Can we all make better attempts to be nice with each other this morning? Did you all not get enough sleep last night?”
The answer to my question would remain unknown because everyone now was directed to give their full attention to the boy still crying at the table, over what I did not know. “Why are you not eating? You are going to miss the bus! Hurry up. We will sort out your belt in a minute.” I heard my voice raise as the words continued forming in my mouth and spilling out. If compassion had not welled up earlier, it certainly was not rising now. I mean really. “How ridiculous to get this worked up over a belt, for crying out loud,” I thought.
Just then the oldest of the littles sputtered out some snide remark to his little sister who evidently was still engaging her brother in the ongoing argument involving the Peanuts, even after I clearly directed them to drop it. In this moment I don’t remember what was said, but whatever it was pushed a button. The next thing I know, I find my hand whacking the back of his head in a knee jerk response to his saucy remark.
One little gesture in a heated moment I can never take back. It was my job to guide the kids through the morning’s obstacles, my job to stay above the rumblings and morning scuffles, and my job to point them to Jesus. Instead I pointed them to my dirt, my fallen nature still clinging to me like a static charged sock without a match on the sweat shirt I need to fold in the laundry room upstairs. I now wish I had stayed with the poor sock in the laundry room and ignored the screaming that led me to the path ending with my hand slapping the back of my son’s head.
“Who was I? That response is still in me? Yuck! I thought I knew better than that? Sure this morning wasn’t running as smoothly as most. Sure my kids are genuinely kinder and more thoughtful of each other than the events of this particular morning were drawing out of them. Sure much of what going down in the Ross household this particular morning is trivial and petty. Everyone of us is tired, but seriously, I thought I was passed heartless, snapping, responses towards my kids.”
My son looked at me betrayed and demoralized. I don’t blame him. I knew the feeling all too well. I received a swift smack to the back of the head once or twice in my youth. While I turned out ok and I do not hold it against my dad for loosing his cool a few times at a much deserved rude comment from my snotty teen self, I still don’t want to perpetuate the action with my kids.
This is not the legacy I want to pass down to my kids, and I am certain my dad feels the same. Yet, there I was standing looking at my now furious child. Even though I am sure Proverbs is loaded with some pithy piece of advice I needed to adhere to in order to circumvent such behavior, in the moment I did not want to hear about what I should of done.
I felt like a failure, and that feeling would drive down deeper when the other son exclaimed with as much vocal strain as he could muster after a morning of crying. “I feel sick, Mom. My stomach hurts. I have been trying to tell you I wasn’t crying about the belt. I am crying because my stomach hurts.”
Total mom fail. What a mess I made of things. How insensitive I’ve been. To top it all off, now the kids were close to missing the bus. Adding insult to injury, we hadn’t done our advent for the day…come to think of it, I forgot to do it yesterday too. I lost an opportunity to teach my kids about the character of Jesus in the advent lesson and now definitely through my own selfishness. The verdict was in, confirmed by the sad faces of my children…I am the worst mom in the world.
At least, that’s what I told my husband over breakfast that morning. Somehow he managed, with the help of the bedroom fan, to sleep through the entire morning drama. Tears now welled up in my eyes as I recounted each sordid detail while flipping over the bacon we were getting ready to eat. My husband wisely noted, “You’re not the worst mom in the world.”
I countered, “But I am a hypocrite. How can I be telling people about the transforming love of Jesus and still have this junk in my heart towards my own kids!” I felt so pathetic and gross. Then he replied with something that compelled me to write down this story of each failing moment from my morning for others to read. He said, “That is why so many people are turned off to Jesus because Christians project this idea that they are perfect, instead of just being real and honest.”
Struggle magnifies our need.
He was right. The pursuit of right living, holiness, and making choices reflecting God’s nature is met with a whole lot of struggle and failure. The struggle doesn’t diminish the power or even the lure of Jesus. The struggle magnifies our need for Him even after we give Jesus our life. Salvation isn’t a miraculous fix of everything wrong with us and our life. Salvation provides us with relationship with the One who shows us who we really are and how to live it.
We are given tools and the ability to connect with His Spirit now inside us to make choices that bring life not death. We can stay calm and listen to the people around us and not be so caught up in what we want. Ironically, I was far too consumed with spending time with Jesus to see what He was doing in my home. He wasn’t over at my brown chair waiting for me to get my kids out the door. He was right in the kitchen, ready to help me get to the heart of the matter.
He saw my son sick with a fever and was ready to administer comfort and healing. He saw my tired son struggling to be patient with his sister after a restless night and carrying the shame of wetting his bed. He saw my daughter looking for affirmation that her thoughts were valid and important. And He saw me trying to juggle life and still compartmentalizing my relationship with Him, forgetting He is with me always.
Jesus isn’t just with me and pleased with me when I am doing “spiritual things”. He loves me and is with me in everything. He is wanting to relate with me even when I am struggling to make room for Him. He wants to guide me and let His love influence everything I am engaged in because in His kingdom all things can be spiritual, everything can be worship to Him. There is no divide of secular life and sacred. All of our life can be infused with His presence, even the rocky moments.
The morning’s events could have looked differently if my focus would have been to commune with Him in the squabbles with the kids, the miscommunications, and the struggles to get on with the day. He knew what the needs were of each of us. He wanted to show me, if I would have taken a moment to look through His eyes, not mine. I did not, at least not then. I was too busy looking at results of the roots to think about the causes for the turmoil. I forgot to stop and ask Jesus for help. I was too focused on what was not happening to really take in what was.
I love how The Message fantastically captures God’s heart and His desire to see us learn the rhythms of His grace-filled life. We aren’t meant to categorize or chop up sections of our life with some for Him to be present in and other areas we manage on our own. He is always our ever-present help.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Matthew 11:28
Failure highlights Jesus’ awesomeness.
Later that morning, as I finished buttering the toast for dipping in the over easy eggs my husband and were about to consume, I was struck by this thought. Failure highlights how amazing Jesus is. No wonder the enemy presents us with the idea to keep failures hidden. “Don’t speak of the times you fall short,” he would say. “At least until you over come it,” believing we never will. “No one wants to know how you don’t perfectly apply the things you write and speak about all the time. People want inspiration, and reality is not inspiring.”
Yet, when my need of Him to help me even love my own flesh and blood well is indisputable, my life directs people to Jesus, not to me. Any good in me that people see becomes confirmation that Jesus is alive and at work. In the same way, my sin points to the cross and my need for Jesus to help me become who God intended for me to be when He first came up with the idea of Jennette.
Victory over sin in my life and fruit of God’s Spirit is evidence of His Spirit inside me. His good in me points people to the resurrection victory and the finished work of Jesus manifesting in my life. The residue of sin’s effects on this world that I still allow to smudge the clean white garments Jesus clothed me in, give reference for the world to recognize how amazingly wonderful Jesus is. His perfection held against my failed attempt to live it out, always makes His perfection all the more glorious and appealing.
Come out of hiding.
Instead of hiding when I fall short of God’s glory, the world needs me to bring it to the light. My sin reminds the world of Jesus’ perfection. God did not leave us at the cross telling us to figure things out on our own. He rose, came to find us, and gave us purpose when all seemed lost. His glory in me reminds the world of His goodness, whether that goodness is lived out or still working it’s way out. Both my failures and victories reveal His glory.
When I sin it reminds me and everyone else of my desperate need for Jesus’ death on the cross. On the flip-side, when I live up to the truth of God now in me through Christ, it reminds me and others of Jesus’ resurrection power at work in my life. We short change the beauty and great news of the fullness of the cross when we try to hide our mis-steps in life.
If we say we have no sin refusing to admit that we are sinners, we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. His word does not live in our hearts. If we freely admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just, true to His own nature and promises, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness (our wrongdoing) everything not in conformity with His will and purpose. ~ 1 John 1:9 amp
I never want to convince myself or others that I perfectly walk out everything God intends for me. Jesus is perfect and any perfection in me or through me is because of Him. I will never celebrate or make excuses for my sin, but I will acknowledge places my actions or thoughts are out of touch with God’s perfect love.
Working out perfection.
I chose the name Waking to Glory for the blog because we are all growing in the revelation of God’s perfection in us. Some revelation is quick like the mornings we are startled to wake with a jolt. Some revelation is a slow stirring like a relaxing Saturday morning or vacation day morning where we can sleep in. Other revelation is resisted with repeated swipes of the snooze button, but we eventually stop avoiding it and get up.
Whatever the stage of our journey with God, let’s all aim to be honest. How else can the people around us pray for us and support us? It’s important to surround ourselves with people we can open up with, be vulnerable and real about our struggles with, and who will encourage us in God’s truth. We need people who will not just sympathize but who will remind us to look up into the face of Jesus who is right there with us.
My husband reminded me that I am not my sin. That is not who I am. I am God’s beloved daughter. Jesus took all my sin away when He died on the cross, making me a saint. Jesus empowers me to connect with Him to live from His love when He rose from the grave. He dealt and defeated my sin. Now I am on a journey to discovering what a fully forgiven, fully redeemed, clean slated, pure life looks like.
Sometimes I forget who I am. Sometimes I need people around me to remind me. Sometimes I need Jesus’ forgiveness to come through the mouths of even my own children. Sometimes I need God’s forgiveness to speak to my heart through my own voice relaying forgiveness for forgetting who I am in Christ.
“Thank you Lord for your patience as I walk out your truth. Help me to remember how much you love me and that you are with me always. But when I forget, help me to be honest with you and others.”
Share your story.
Can you relate? What is God reminding of you lately that failure or sin tried to make you forget? Share your journey below. If you could use some encouragement, I would be happy to pray with you too!