I need the messy, the gracious, the true and the beautiful

I’m reminded probably every time I read an Ann Voskamp blog post how much I need the combination of the messy and limitless grace, and for this to be infused with truth and beauty. I feel like I’ve heard much that is truthful but shallow of late (and how in the dailyness of motherhood that typifies my own thought and emotional life ). So recently reading Ann Voskamp’s post on birth and on giving up and receiving again and again, I’m reminded in a very practical, down-to-earth way how much I need the beauty of the gospel daily.

The Messy: I’ve learned after nearly 6 years of motherhood that there is beauty in the mundane, and I need the reality of the messiness of this life — the dirt under the fingernails, the pushing through the tantrums and the “hangry” (being hungry which leads to anger) — to ground me, to make me appreciate and long for incarnational, physical “there-ness.” I don’t seem to need the same intellectual rigor that is devoid of practical implications that I used to long for as a young graduate student. I am drawn to friends and other mothers who share the messiness of their homes and their lives and yet also long for beauty and truth in the midst of the chaos of spilled Cheerios, dirty diapers, and a floor that hasn’t been cleaned in who-knows-how-long.

The gracious: Grace is profound and I often see it is a Sunday school answer — something pat, a one-size-fits-all for any puzzle. But really, when I stop and think of the grace that Jesus gives me — that I’m totally free and accepted and loved because of Christ — it’s reeling. Honestly, most of the time I’d prefer to feel like I’ve earned it or that it’s just around the corner, not that it enfolds and engulfs me even when I’m kicking and screaming resisting it. Kind of like hugging my children when they’re angry at me.

The true: My tendency is to lean towards grace, rather than truth. But I’m learning that grace without truth isn’t really grace; it’s just a coping mechanism to avoid the messy truth, to keep parties calm and baptize it with an air of forgiveness; but a forgiveness that doesn’t see the offense is just another form of passive-aggressiveness. Everyday, I need to keep telling myself the truth: Jesus loves me. My sins are forgiven. Now go and love others.

The beautiful: Being back in southern California, I’m surrounded by a lot of beauty: beautiful people, beautiful things, beautiful scenery. But this isn’t the beauty I’m going for, rather what does a gentle, gracious and listening spirit look like? How is my home a picture of welcome? How can I surround myself with people and things that enhance beauty, people who lend themselves to thoughtful questions, that embrace the reality of the messiness of life? And perhaps most pointedly for now, how can I, as a mother of 3 sons (with a daughter on the way), exhibit the beauty of life poured out for God?

Frankly, most of the time, I fail pretty miserably on all fronts. But there’s more grace, more grace.

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