Vulnerability and the question we’re all asking

This was going to be a lovely post about enjoying your children — or anything really — before she/he/it grows up and changes into something entirely new and different. I was composing this lovely piece in my head as I cradled my 10-month-old daughter, touching my lips to her soft head, but then she started whimpering. And then she threw up all over me. Down my shirt. All over the bed, so that I had to change her and the sheets at 1:30 in the morning. There is just no good way to recover from that.

Then later the next day, my 5-year-old son started looking a bit queasy and was starting to freak out that he was going to vomit as he was within 3 yards (3 yards! Almost there!) of the toilet. And then it came. And I caught it in my cupped hands. Because what’s a mom to do — just let her son vomit all over the carpet?

And I thought of all the crazy fluids and mess that we catch as parents. Of spit-up and puke and diaper blow-outs. But you don’t even have to be a parent — there’s mess inside each of us and it comes pouring out in this crazy world we live in. Shootings and killings and deadly viruses. And the more insidious ones we try to hide like retail therapy and comparison and shame.  We’re all just covered in the mess and junk of this world; we try to keep hiding it, trying to stay picture-perfect. But there’s stuff that comes flying out from who-knows-where and we’re all waiting and wanting to know this: Is there someone who will see me and take my mess with outstretched hands, ready to catch it?

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Do we run from the mess of life because it reminds us too much of our own shame? Do we tell our friends they’re okay (when they’re not) and keep stuffing the mess down like a dust bunny you see form under the couch and never get around to dealing with? Or do we show up with cupped hands, ready to catch whatever it is that spews forth, because we know that we, too, are filled with vileness, and one day we’ll need someone to be at-the-ready with cupped hands for us? We’ll need someone to hug and console not turn up their nose at the smell. Someone to take us to living water to be refreshed, restored and made clean when all we have to offer is a retching stink. But then, oh, what comfort and what truth and what grace in outstretched hands.

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This is the twenty-fourth post for the Write 31 days challenge, where I’ll be writing every day through the month of October. I’m excited to see what comes of this daily practice. I’d love for you to comment, pin the above image, share posts and subscribe to receive posts to the right in the sidebar as we work through these things together. Posts in the series are all linked to from the first post.

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15 Comments

  1. I am thankful that in this community that has taken 16 years to build, I have this with a few people. I am grateful. I am also reminder (and recently) that there are times when I am weaker (mom’s death last spring) and I have had to ask others to come close, and the have come, and I am grateful. Ashley, please keep writing after October.

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    1. Jill thank you for sharing your experience and wow, what a gift to have people there at-the-ready for you. It is so good to be weak, and accept help when we need it. And thank you for making my day as you encourage me to keep writing. I will. I will.

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  2. 😦 Oh dear…vomit is…not my favorite. Actually, it is my least favorite thing in the world. But, for the sake of my dear babies, I have dealt with more vomit the last 3 years than I have in my life. And it has made me realize so much about our Heavenly Father, and my parents (who I know got up more than once to deal with middle-of-the-night yuck episodes!) Hopefully you stay healthy!

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  3. Oh goodness, this is compelling. I SO wish I were better at seeing God as the Parent when I’m dealing with the tough parenting stuff. If I could look at my toddler and realize that he’s being ME… what patience I would have if I put myself in his little shoes! Thank you for sharing this. I hope your littles recover quickly!

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  4. I had to stop reading this after the first paragraph because my 2 year old pooped his underwear. Yup, life is messy. And I am grateful for those who accept the mess in my life to help me be made new. This post reminded me so much of what I’ve been thinking about and reflecting on. It sounds like God is doing some redeeming in our lives! Very well written. Thank you for writing.

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  5. […] But instead of telling our stories to one another where we confess and yearn for redemption, we buy Starbucks holiday drinks. I do it, too.  Perhaps because it’s easier to fork over $4 than to take the time to look deeply within ourselves and see our need for repentance and restoration. Perhaps because caffeine and sugar make us feel good again, if only momentarily, and so we buy so we can forget all the bad feelings and guilt and shame. By all means, go and enjoy your red cup, but do it with someone and decide to share and be vulnerable while you sip your mocha. Because we can never be made right as we cling to things to cover up our shame — whether it’s excuses, or our own reputation, or a coffee cup; we can only be made right when we own up to our brokenness, see it for what it is, and ask for grace in the midst of the mess. […]

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