I have won several awards for my music, but one award I’m pretty sure I’ll never be nominated for is Mother of the Year.
Take for example one Wednesday morning when Josie was thirteen months old. We woke up late for a Bible study I was leading with only enough time to get one of us dressed. Since I was teaching the class that day, I decided it needed to be me.
Josie stayed in her pajamas.
We arrived before child care opened, so I took Josie with me to the fellowship hall while I did a sound check. Josie began toddling around, running in circles, and trying to be a big girl while climbing on the hardwood stairs to the stage.
That’s when it happened.
I turned away just for a minute, and she took a tumble, falling flat on her face and busting her lip. She started wailing, catching the attention of everyone (including me) who was setting up the event. As we all raced toward her, she stopped crying. Sensing she was the center of attention, she forgot all about her fall and bloody lip. And since she has grown up around musicians, she understands that when you have an audience, it is time to perform. She had just learned how to blow kisses, so she started blowing bloody kisses to everyone. Her face was all sweetness and smiles, but blood was going everywhere!
“Oh, I’m fine,” she seemed to be saying, as blood dripped onto her Hello Kitty pajamas. I picked her up and she buried her face in my blouse — the pretty white blouse that I purposely wore to convince the newcomers that I was the one in charge. As I carried Josie out of the fellowship hall and to the nursery, she continued blowing bloody kisses over my shoulder as the horrified staff looked on.
I arrived at the nursery and stood in line with all of the “good moms” who had decked out their little girls in perfectly pressed, hand-smocked dresses with matching hair bows. I caught a glimpse of us in a mirror near the door, and Josie and I looked like characters from the set of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But what could we do?
When we reached the front of the line, the nursery worker actually recoiled and grimaced at us.
The director walked over and, seeing that it was me, handed me a beeper. “Aren’t you speaking this morning?”
“Yeah, I’m supposed to start in fifteen minutes.”
“What if something goes wrong and we need to beep you?” asked the director.
“Yeah, I’m probably not going to answer it,” I said, handing Josie to her.
“But what if there is an emergency?”
I pointed at Josie, who was now blowing her bloody kisses onto the director. “Look at her. She’s still in her pajamas and bleeding. Whatever emergency comes up, clearly y’all can do a better job than I can!”
On my way back to the fellowship hall, I made a quick stop in the bathroom, where I wet some paper towels and attempted to make the bloodstains a more flattering shade of pink. As I scrubbed brown bits of paper towel into my blouse, I thought, What am I doing here? I was a mess, my kid was a mess, and unless I got it together, I was about to make a mess of the Bible study I was getting ready to teach.
As I looked at the other moms coming in and out of the bathroom with cute clothes, matching jewelry, and manicures, I couldn’t even wrap my head around how they all looked so put together. But that is when I had a realization:
I am so thankful God has not called me to a tidy, well-put-together life for the glory of Laura. Instead, He has called me to this messy, unmanageable, and totally dependent on Him life for the glory of God.
That morning was a turning point for me. For the past several years, Martin had been on a physical journey, relearning how to do some of the most basic things — like walk and eat. Simultaneously, I had been on a spiritual journey that caused me to examine and redefine some basic spiritual practices — like the importance of depending on Scripture. But now, we were on a new journey together, redefining family and parenting. Just like it wasn’t fair for Martin to compare himself to his “before” self and expectations about life, I couldn’t hold myself to the ideal images of motherhood that I’d experienced growing up either. Our lives were different than we expected them to be, but that didn’t mean they weren’t exactly what God had planned for us. If because of our circumstances we would have to be more dependent on Jesus than other parents, well, that was a good thing.
God didn’t create me to be like every other mom. He created me to be me, and he loves me just how I am.
When songwriters are trying to figure something out, they often write a song about it. The song I wrote was called “I Can Just Be Me.” The lyrics begin with me trying to do everything but not measuring up. Then in the chorus I ask God to be everything that I can’t be.
I’ve been doing all that I can
To hold it all together piece by piece.
I’ve been feeling like a failure, trying to be braver
Than I could ever be.
It’s just not me.
So be my Healer, be my Comfort, be my Peace.
Cause I can be broken, I can be needy,
Lord I need You now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.
So be my Father, my Mighty Warrior, be my King.
Cause I can be scattered, frail and shattered,
Lord I need you now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.
And be my Savior, be my Lifeline, won’t You be my everything.
Cause I’m so tired of trying to be someone
I was never meant to be
Be my God
Please be my God
Be my God
So I can just be me
So I can just be me
I can just be me.
When we are on the receiving end of pain and can’t yet see or understand why we’re in such trials, we can find it so hard to trust. But as imperfect mothers and fathers, we often inflict pain on our children for their own good. Whether it is birthing them, giving them their immunization shots, or putting them into time-out so they don’t touch a hot stove, we could be seen as the source of their pain, even though we’re only doing what is best for them.
So how much more must God, our perfect Father, be doing for us when we’re experiencing pain? Like any good parent, God fully understands the pain we feel, and He is with us in it, but He allows us to go through it because He has a greater good in mind.
Can we trust Him in that? It’s hard, I know. But that’s also why we place our hope in Him. Our hope is that one day the pain will end and we’ll live with Him in a pain-free eternity, where there is no more brokenness and we are all made whole.
We are blessed with the gift of His grace that allows us to spend eternity with Him in a place free of trials and free of brokenness.
Share your story. Give God the glory. And live a better broken.
Excerpted with permission from W Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, from When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story, copyright Laura Story Elvington, 2015.
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If your story is messy, you are not alone. If you have to (get to) lean harder on Jesus for strength, comfort, direction, and help seemingly than those around you, you’re not the only one. Consider that brokenness a gift from God! He made you to be you (including the brokenness you might wish you didn’t carry), not anyone else. And, your story is for His glory! Who can you share it with today? How can you live a better broken? Come share with us on our blog! We would love to hear from you!