The beautiful thing about an upside down life

upside down

Do you have those moments in motherhood when you feel equally and simultaneously blessed beyond measure and like you’re going to crawl out of your skin?

Yeah, me too.

The endless needs to meet, the dishes and laundry, the noise and the arguments, the chauffeuring and the schedules, the changes and transitions and disruptions and sleepless nights…it’s just a lot.

Beautiful, messy, amazing, demanding, miraculous, exhausting life.

There is a heavy side to this parenting job, shepherding and guiding through life’s pains, and feeling the weight of directing our child(ren)’s future.  But much of the stuff of my day isn’t really difficult.  Many of the tasks of motherhood are simple and straightforward.  So in the daily grind, I sometimes find myself wondering why I’m struggling.  I think I could change diapers and correct children and fold clothes and answer questions and do dishes at your house with a smile on my face and a skip in my step.

Sometimes, the hard part is not necessarily what I have to do, but the state of my heart.

As I pay closer attention to what goes on in my heart and mind when a child’s need arises, or 47 of them at the same time, it’s not actually the work that’s hard.

When it’s one more diaper or one more water cup to fill when I just sat down, I think the more difficult part is the battle that rages inside for my rights and my dignity.  Something bubbles up in me that says “Dang it, I deserve to sit down and eat a meal!”  There’s something ugly that thunders with thoughts that say “I woke up at 5:30am so I could get time BY MYSELF.  You’re not invited!”  Or the feeling that it must be an attack on my basic human rights to have someone bust through the door every time I try to use the bathroom.

Though these thoughts may not make it out of my mouth, they eat away at my insides and make this motherhood thing so much heavier, harder, a constant battle.

But that way of thinking has everything to do with identity and greatness as the world sees it.  It’s about who you know and what you do and who you impress and how much money you make and how much you produced and how satisfied it made you feel.  It’s about demanding respect and fighting for your rights.

But friends, there’s something beautiful in motherhood, and so many times in life, that we could miss in the million ways we are stretched and pressed and bruised by meeting everyone else’s needs.

There’s a gift inside of the work, a mystery tucked inside of the demands, an invitation beneath the invisibility.

God invites us to flip it all all upside down…

To celebrate the times when our needs can’t be met, because it draws us close to God’s heart of abundant and fresh daily mercy.*

To boast in our weakness because it pulls us into the strength of Christ.*

To be poured out, giving our life all away, because it’s the secret to finding the life we’re grasping for.*

We could be burdened by our work being invisible to the rest of the world.  Or we could let the work of our hands be a song of worship before the delighting eyes of our King.*

We could scramble and claw to be left alone, or we could offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God…and discover the secrets of Christ, who came and served and endured unto JOY.*

We could spend our energy fighting for our rights to sleep and peeing alone, or we could find our life as we go ahead and give it away.  We can offer generosity of spirit and time and energy and words, trusting that it will all be given back to us.*

I itch for my children to know what I’m learning the hard way, about how real life, real joy, real greatness is found when we give it all away.

And isn’t this what we want our children to know?  How to put another person’s needs before their own?  How to have genuine compassion and a drive to serve and protect those weaker than themselves?

How in the world do we teach this upside-down, inside-out concept of serving one another, of washing the feet of another, of taking the lowliest position for the sake of Christ, with the promise that the last will be first in the Kingdom of God?

I think this is one of those lessons that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense until we see it live and breathe.

Their daddy and I can prattle on about how they should just hurry up and stop fighting for the biggest brownie and to be first into the car.  We can tell them how Jesus says the “last will be first” only to watch their squabbles shift to shoving each other into the car so they can be last.

In a world full of “likes” and “follows” and always looking beautifully put-together, how do we set aside the drive to always be best and liked and recognized and elevated and admired?

These things we can spend so much time chasing always turn up empty.  When I try to stand on them, the shifty sandy ground beneath my feet washes away with the waves.  In this realm, when people stop admiring, and someone else is better, and seasons change and no one sees me, I’m left with nothing.

The world doesn’t have much solid ground to offer us, or our children, not in money or fame or success or titles.

And I want the kind of riches for my family that last into eternity.

So, in a world that’s all about getting ahead, I want to be mama who teaches her children about getting low.

The beautiful thing about living upside down is that we have nothing to fear.  No one and no thing can take away the brimming life that results from dying to ourselves.

We have freedom.  The pressure is off to meet other’s expectations and keep up with the mom next door when we are living for God’s eyes alone.

If the way to be great is to be the least, than, mamas, cleaning poop off the walls or being told off by a toddler or spending three hours a day driving your people places are right there in the sweet spot of God’s heart for us.

The gift is that we only need eyes of One to experience the greatness we all long for.

The beautiful thing is that joyful and abundant life doesn’t require a title or applause or a corner office or ten thousand Instagram followers.  It’s accessible to us from our kitchen sinks, from our child’s bedside, from the driver’s seat of our cars.

We can take the Hand of Love to be led forth in grace, when we let our lives be hidden in Christ.  And as our families see us serve in joy, they have a window to see where true life is found…in giving it away.

 

*Bible references:
Lamentations 3: 22-23 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Matthew 16: 24-25
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12: 1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  -Hebrews 12: 1-2
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6: 38
Jesus was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that through his poverty we would become rich. -2 Cor. 8:9
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3: 3

 

 

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