When I make my to-do lists, I precede each item with a little, hollow box. When the task is completed (the letter sent, the laundry folded, the post written) I take great delight in filling in the little box with ink. I like the way my paper looks with a flush-left column of neatly filled-in boxes. Read more at (in)courage…
There will be thirty of them. Many of them don’t know each other. Some are best friends. A couple might not really even like each other all that much. I get it. I was in high school once, too. Girls are funny when we get together. Put a bunch of high school girls in one house over night and out spills the best and the worst of them all. At least, that’s what we hope for.
I’m looking forward to hosting the 2nd annual Good Girl Project (along with my best girl Kendra) this weekend at my house. It’s for the girls in our youth group who are stuck in a private battle with that perfect, invisible good girl. A place for those of us who are caught in the cycle of trying hard to measure up with varying shades of success. A place for those of us who need to be reminded to simply be and receive in the midst of a world telling us to do and achieve. We’re gonna call that good girl out for what she is: a liar and a very bad friend.
And we’re gonna laugh a lot and share our Jesus stories and eat some chocolate because that’s what girls do. I wish I could have come to a weekend like this when I was sixteen. I’d tell myself to trust more, worry less and enjoy that stretch mark free tummy. Is there anything you wish you could tell your high school self?
To receive this day as it is and not as I wish it was seems like an impossible task sometimes, especially as I stand at the grocery store exit with a cart full only to realize it is pouring. down. the rain. Or when I have big plans for a productive day, but the littlest one is running a fever. Or when they come home from school only to fight until bedtime.
I wish for tomorrow a lot. I rarely consider the fact that tomorrow doesn’t really even exist.
Every week in this place, we purpose to receive this day as the only one we’ve got. Some Tuesdays, I am overflowing with gratitude for the beauty and the peace. I pick out gifts and blessings like two blooms in a whole field full of poppies. There is more than enough to go around.
But there are other days when I trip over too much stuff and too little time. I’m clumsy and worried and fragile. And I desperately need a nap. I am slowly learning what it means to embrace those days, too. Because those are the days when I discover my need for relationship, for encouragement, for community and solitude and forgiveness.
So whether you are in the midst of the mess, surrounded by the lovely or interrupted by things unexpected, I encourage you to pause and consider the gift, whatever it might be. Then, if time allows, share it with us.
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“A mother lives with grief every day of her life. Grief that her baby is growing up and won’t need her anymore. Grief over mistakes. Grief that time can’t be bought back.” -Emory Chance from Mary DeMuth’s novel A Slow Burn
Emory Chance called it grief. Some people call it guilt. I couldn’t sleep the other night because I was thinking of all the ways I could be mothering better. My good mom checklist was full of to-do’s and not one of them was checked off. I have a terrible habit of taking on too much responsibility. And of being a tad dramatic.
Shame rolls ’round and ’round my heart and head every day of my life. I would rather call it guilt because it doesn’t sound as embarrassing, but really I think it goes deeper. Guilt can be a good thing, a God-reminder when things aren’t right and an opportunity to change them. Shame is what happens when we let guilt fester and sink deeper and don’t deal with it. Shame seeps into our skin when we aren’t looking and takes our spirit hostage. And then she sits down heavy and masks herself as us so we can’t tell the difference between the two.
Shame waits until my defenses are down on a sleepless night and then begins to whisper doubt: Maybe you’re not doing enough. Maybe you’re not cut out for this. Maybe you’re messing them up.
And in that place, I have a choice. I can believe the dark suggestions that it is up to me to get it right on my own. Or I can trust that I was made in His image for such a time as this, to parent these He has given, and to receive grace and mercy from His hand.
(This post title is from Alan D. Wright’s book, Shame Off You: Overthrowing the Tyrant Within).