Hope for Messy Families

This is the article that started it all.  It got me thinking; took me down memory lane and about some lessons that God has taught me.  But what good is it to learn lessons the hard way, if not to share your stories with others so they don’t make the same mistakes you did?  So here goes, this is a word for the young moms and the tired moms and discouraged moms: TAKE HEART.

I have been a born again Christian for over 30 years.  I have been a stay at home mom for 22 years.  I have been a homeschooling mom for 15 years.  (Did I really say those things out loud?  Now I feel old.)  One would think that with a resume like that, I would have this parenting thing down and our family would be the picture of love and tranquility.  Did you hear that sound?  That is the sound of God and all his angels laughing at what I just said.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  We are a very messy family.

When I began homeschooling, I went with my friends to the annual homeschooling convention.  These days were promoted as a time of encouragement and refreshment.  At these conventions, I would see other homeschooling families with their children:  Angel, Goodly, Neatly, Sweetly, and Perfect ; all wearing matching, homemade outfits.  I came home to my own messy family:  Grumpy, Stubborn, Sassy, Argumentative, and Disobedient, wearing clothes that may or may not be stained, have holes, or match. Rather than encouraged and refreshed, I was discouraged and disheartened.  I don’t go to homeschooling conventions anymore.  (Please note that this is not in any way intended to be critical of homeschooling conventions.  The people who put them on work very hard and many people are blessed by them.  They are just not a good fit for me.)

But this is the good news:  God, does indeed, specialize in messy families.  Messy families are the perfect place to learn forgiveness and grace, the heartbeat of the gospel.  Those things don’t take place in a perfect, sanitized setting; they can only happen surrounded by messy, sinful people who trust in a gracious, forgiving God (Eph. 4:32).  God is not done with us yet, but He is faithful to complete the good work that He started in each one of us. (Phil 1:6)

Comparison is a trap that we set for ourselves.  So what if that mom at the convention has Angel, Goodly, Neatly, Sweetly, and Perfect?  God did not give her the grace to raise my family.  He gave me the grace to raise my family.  He gave her the grace to raise hers. (Eph.4:7)  And if I was honest, sometimes Angel, Goodly, Neatly, Sweetly, and Perfect turn into Grumpy, Stubborn, Sassy, Argumentative, and Disobedient too (Ro. 3:23).

If you are a mom who woke up tired and discouraged this morning, take heart.  God’s grace is new every morning.  He does not grow tired or weary and in His strength you can meet the challenges that this day holds (Isa. 40:28, 2 Cor. 12:9, Heb. 4:16).  So have the courage to be real, think Biblicaly, and live the gospel.  And you have my permission to let your kids wear the play clothes.  They are the perfect attire for messy people like us.

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