The last few days have been intentionally slow. We're starting our Christmas this weekend at my mom's, where additionally we will find out the gender of our sweet growing baby. Yay!
But it's sometimes in the slowness that we really struggle to find joy and rest. Ironic? The kids beg and beg not to do school, but then they fight and bicker with too much free time, which brings out the worst in me. And not doing school gives me enough time to look around and stress out about things that usually go unnoticed. Like my messy house.
It's easy to scroll through my facebook timeline and only see the beautiful pictures that I take of my home, and the smiling faces on my kids. But real life is a beautiful office with a lovely handmade desk built by my husband — that can't be seen for stuff.
And it's cluttered with my life. Baby sonogram pictures, homeschool planning sheets, coffee, small lines of scripture written on notecards, recipes, and broken picture frames that someone knocked off the wall. Highly representative of my
thoughts heart these days. Disorganized. Cluttered. Full but messy.
Last night we watched a movie, which meant that I left the dishes and then fell asleep without doing them. So as if today doesn't have enough work of it's own, yesterday's work followed me into today.
There's also this really fun paint splatter on my kitchen cabinets that has been there for months. Ooops. One day I'll pick a color and paint the rest…maybe. Also the boys need new beds and bedding, the girls' rooms need painting, and my bathrooms could really use a deep clean. Plus I have cinnamon rolls and brioche to bake for this weekend. The presents aren't wrapped. And oh yeah, some haven't even been bought yet.
Also, someone keeps pulling on the Christmas tree lights so that they are always drooping at the bottom. I'm thinking I know who it is…
That same unnamed tiny person slept on a pallet last night because her sheets weren't done in the dryer. Please don't call child protective services.
I'm not even touching on my emotional clutter here, which is also everywhere.
But I'm not sharing all of this to whine about how hard life is. I really do love where God has me — so much. The truth is, life is messy for everybody. Facebook and Instagram are so fun, but it's so easy to edit life so that only the beautiful, perfect parts show. We crop and cut to keep the real — sometimes hard and ugly parts hidden. But I think while it promises connection, the result is that it's making our generation of moms really lonely. Because we look at everyone else's perfect timeline story, where date nights and clean houses and sweet parenting moments are carefully logged and recorded– and we believe that some people really live perfectly peaceful lives– without all the work and the frustration and the struggle. And it offers the false promise that maybe a perfect, easy life is obtainable.
Shame loves to tell me that I'm defined by my mess and my chaos. But I'm not. And some days I just long for someone to come alongside me with empathy and compassion and say "me too".
But even connection and empathy won't dissolve the mess and the chaos. And with four kids and one on the way, that is probably not changing anytime soon. And that longing for order, and peace, and connection only intensifies as the pressures of having the perfect Christmas approach.
But my challenge to myself this Christmas season is to stop looking for peace in places, in things, and in people that will never fully satisfy. Because perfect peace can only and always be found in Christ.
The laundry will always pile. There will always be sin to fight. Sickness will always threaten. The temptation to hide and retreat will persist. And loneliness will consume. The To Do list will never be empty. The Christmas crafts will never go as planned. And tree needles will always mysteriously cover the living room floor, no matter how many times I've swept.
But Christ offers perfect peace. Right in the middle of the mess. As He took on the wrath and punishment that I deserve to give me the rest and peace that I don't, He reconciled sinners to a righteous God. And through Him I have access to the Father, where hope and comfort abound.
He moves towards me in my brokenness, even as everyone else seemingly moves away. He meets me in my chaos, and reminds me that He is the calm in the storm. He is the answer to every unspoken longing, every unmet desire, every wound that needs healing, and every fear that threatens to unravel my peace. He's enough. He restores. He revives.
He is Emmanuel, God with us. Right in the middle of it all.