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How to Embrace the Imperfect & Unexpected Journey of Motherhood

How to Embrace the Imperfect & Unexpected Journey of Motherhood

Not long ago I found myself crying in a heap on the floor of my bedroom. The tears wouldn't stop. Its a place I've found myself before, the cold floor and I have come to know one another well, meeting every few months since I moved to New York several years ago. My own capabilities seem to crash into all that is required of me here: raising my children away from all our extended family, adjusting to living in the midst of constant noise and lights and an ambitious culture, and still trying to find a rhythm to nurture friendships and homeschool my crew. I've learned a lot about what I thought I needed, and what I actually need, a lot about my own heart and the entitlements I used to view as necessities. I've asked myself and God so many times:

Is life really supposed to look like this? Is this what motherhood is supposed to be? Because my life today is nothing like I'd ever imagined, or ever expected.

What did you think motherhood would be like? What did you think life would be like? If your reality differs from your expectations, it can be easy to become discontent or stuck in a cycle where you pursue perfection. Maybe today its time to embrace the mess and the beauty of what you have before you!

For most of my life I could only picture a large family on land with a sprawling front porch and a beautiful garden to tend. Now, I am amazed that my building has two elevators and a laundry room in the basement. Six of us live comfortably inside of this 1,000 square-foot haven, squished at times, but so thankful. I sometimes wonder what we used to fit inside our big house and how I would ever furnish one again. I think our place is massive for New York. For goodness sake, I have not one, but two bathrooms...its unheard of.

Perspective will do that. It will bring thanks and peace and new eyes that give understanding. Which is why I'm continually confounded by my sessions of tears that just keep on coming, season after season over the course of my journey here. Have I still not learned contentment? Have I still not learned to trust my Jesus for my bread, to thank him for all my gifts? Am I back at the beginning?

It was through these words that I found myself weeping to my sweet mentor, Sally Clarkson. For the first time aloud, I questioned my faith, my strength, my capabilities, even my mission. I questioned whether I was fit for ministry with such a discontent heart, with such a sadness at times as I surveyed my circumstances. My children were consistently being greeted by too-tired, too- worried, too- stressed out mommy. Surely I had lost my integrity.

Sally's words to me were full of grace and care and they were life changing: "You have to own your life. You have to start building a life that enriches your soul. Your have to own your circumstances, choose joy! Like the wise woman, you must build."

A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands a foolish one tears hers down.- Proverbs 14:1

The wise woman built. Not with brick and mortar, not with nails and wood, but built intentionally into matters of her heart. She cultivated a life that enriched her soul and the souls of those in her care. I was certainly not building. In my passive state, my heart was nurturing the images of the family life I had dreamed of building long ago. Images of a home with land and chickens and grass were seeping in all over my concrete reality like a weed. I longed for my ideal. I cast my affection somewhere "other" and the overflow of my heart represented what I had nurtured.

I was not intentionally cultivating and building into my life, I was tearing down our little haven one small thought at a time. I was chasing the wind striving for perfection and for the life I thought I should be living. Through it all, I neglected what was beautiful, what I enjoyed, what brought life to my very soul, and I became over-run by the mundane. Some days all that my children saw was the wild eyes on a harried mom trying to get everything done. . . Trying to be perfect.

Have you ever found yourself in this place? Ignoring the beauty of creation, of a meal, of flickering candlelight and grinning faces because you are holding on so tightly to trying to be perfect? Have you been Hoodwinked by a myth of motherhood, hanging on to what you assumed this season of your life might look like and becoming discouraged when the myth is not a reality?

If so, then maybe the myth of perfection and unmet expectation are holding you back from joy in this season like they were for me. Its time for us to embrace the mess, embrace the reality of what God has generously given and build with integrity and intention into our own portions, so that He may be glorified and so that we may reap the blessing of his presence today. His presence is the promise and the expectation that will always be met fully. And don't we all want more of Him?!

I'm cheering for you in whatever the reality of your days may be. May you experience joy in the unexpected and the imperfect.



This post is a part of the Better Mom Book Club. Right now we are reading Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need to Knock it Off by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk together. Each week we read, discuss and share together and with the authors here at the blog and over on our private Facebook page. Click the image below to learn more and join us! If you are already joining us for the book club head on over to this past Sunday's reading and questions-->>> {Hoodwinked Book Club Week 1} to share in the comments your response to one or two of the questions that resonated with you for this week.

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