Last week I uploaded some family photos to social media. Let me just say that I absolutely love them and they are amazing. I will cherish those photos forever. I received so many wonderful compliments and kind words of how beautiful we all look. These comments truly are so sweet and meaningful, but I have to be honest, all those kind words made me cry.
I cried at first because your thoughtfulness made me feel so grateful for all I have in life. I also cried because I wanted to reach out, hug you, and say, “WE ARE SOOOO NOT PERFECT!! WE ARE A HOT MESS!” I cried because I know too often I look at others’ photos and think, “I wish I had what they have.” I know the feeling of looking to what others have and asking myself, “Why can’t I have that? Why is my life the way it is?” For me, the years of longing for children are still fresh in my memory. And I know that kind of pain is multiplied for so many of you in different life situations.
But what I need to tell you is we’re all a mess! One big pot of imperfect people just living this life the best we know how. Everyone is struggling with something, be it big or small.
Behind my beautiful family photos, are mornings of waking up, telling myself “I will not yell at my 3 year old today.” Then literally screaming at her 10 minutes later, feeling guilty, and then having to sit with her and ask for forgiveness. Or the weekly arguments my husband and I have about finances or what his priorities are verses mine. Or the crippling panic attacks I get from my anxiety every few years…the list of imperfections can go on.
I fall short every day, or every minute for that matter! But without this reminder of being imperfect, I would not understand the need for GRACE!!
I am a sinner, redeemed by grace through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who lived a PERFECT life for me–so I don’t have to. All I am called to do is LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS. If I put God and others first, everything else will fall into place. Will I fall short? YES! Will life be perfect? NO!
Jesus actually promised life would be a struggle if we choose to follow Him.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
I know at any moment I will be in the middle of a storm of life, leaving a storm, or entering one. And sometimes, this makes me anxious because I begin to worry about what my next trial will be. But, I just pray for the strength to endure whatever God has planned. Right now my storm is parenting. It’s not a huge one, but for me it’s still a struggle. I think the words from the song “The Struggle” by Tenth Avenue North express what I am trying to say best:
We are free to struggle
We’re not struggling to be free
Your blood bought and makes us children
So children drop your chains and sing
My prayer is that you know there is no perfect life. In each of our trials we can choose to let them bring us down, or to grow and let them build us up. Again, I know my struggles in this life may not seem great in comparison to so many other things, but each of us can learn from even the smallest trial.
I am always amazed by the life of Horatio Spafford, the author of the famous hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul.” Horatio and his wife lost their first son at the age of 2, suffered financial difficulties in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and decided to take their family to Europe. He sent his wife and four daughters ahead on the trip during which time, their ship sank and all four daughters lost their lives. He and his wife had three more children later on, but lost another son at the age of 4 to scarlet fever. And yet, through all of this, he wrote one of the most powerful hymns:
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrow’s like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well It is well with my soul
These words often bring me to my knees because I think of the faith the Spaffords possessed and I am blown away. Whatever my lot, whatever God has for me in this life, I need to remember His love is greater than all things and I can have peace in my soul.
You, my friends, are loved so greatly by a Savior willing to die for you. Let that be your anthem and let yourself feel free to struggle well.
Again, thank you to everyone for the sweetest comments about our family photos, they truly mean so much to us!
And just for fun, here’s how Nora’s 1st birthday photo turned out…ENJOY!