I love spring.
The colors. The flowers. The fragrance.
All of it.
A testament to a God who can bring life and color and beauty from even the longest of winters.
But with that being said, there is one thing about spring that I LOATHE.
It has irked me since earning my mama badge seven years ago. It causes anxiety, panic and downright confusion. And it has taken pounds of coffee for me to even have the courage to navigate it now that I have brain damage.
The last truth alone makes me want to scream, “Mercy me, where is a sedative?”
It is the twice-a-year inspiration for why I tell Nathan we are the next stop for Hoarders: Buried Alive. The reason I would love disposable children’s clothing. And a first-world-problem unlike any other.
Drum roll on my head, pleeeeeaase…
Let’s hear it for the seasonal sort and clothes bin dump of Spring 2013!!!!
Little socks. Big socks. One sock. Two socks.
Doesn’t fit with socks, but might without socks.
Socks. Socks. Socks!!!!!
In addition to wanting to rewrite Dr. Seuss, saying this out loud makes my overindulged self want to apologize for even mentioning it. Truly, it does. But in the same token, it is the excess, the disposability of our things that is key in this Sort N’ Dump spring lesson.
This year as I created pile after pile, sorted shirt after shirt and secretly hoped I hadn’t buried one of the children, I noticed something that I hadn’t in all the years before:
The “Not a Blessing to Anyone” pile.
In it, you would have found pants with holes in the knees, shoes without soles and shirts with twenty different stains.
Usually, it is the pile that is out the door the quickest. But this year, for some reason, I went through it with care and attention. And I found myself reading the story of us.
My son’s jeans.
The holes worn in the knees from imaginary battles needing to be won. The orange nail polish on the side acquired in a covert mural creation underneath the dining room table. And the frayed cuffs from the day he turned 4, insisting that his pant size must match his age no matter whether he tripped on them or not.
My daughter’s sparkly shoes.
The faded luster of when they were new, when she couldn’t wait to get home and show daddy her “fabulous” treasure. The scuff marks and rips and holes that communicated how loved they were and how many adventures they had seen. The little secrets and even tears they had been privy to on the playground. And the dancing they had done…OH MY, the dancing…in parking lots, in living rooms, in any place that had a floor.
My baby’s headband.
Silky, beautiful and one of mama’s favorites. Stained from little hands yanking it down during meals. Spaghetti, ice cream, hot dogs, you name it, it was most assuredly there. And yet, mama kept putting it on until the day came when her little girls’ words could clearly say, “Mommy, I do NOT yike headbands!!!”
With every memory and imperfection, each item became more precious. The holes, the tears, the stains told a story. And the more dings and scrapes, the more stories to be treasured and remembered.
Now, I still put these items back in the pile to which they belonged. I still packed them up. And I still felt relief at their departure.
But I remembered something that we often forget in a place of comfort and excess and disposability:
Jesus came for broken people. He lived and died for every hole and stain and imperfection that our story carries. And unlike the world, He doesn’t throw a life away just because it’s banged up or bruised or torn apart.
The more empty places in our lives and in our stories, the more room there is for grace. The more room there is for grace, the more room there is for Jesus. And it is why, quite plainly, our pursuit of perfection in parenting, in relationships, in life is full-on nutty.
That was NEVER part of the plan.
God wants our surrender and our stewardship, not a pair of brand spanking new blue jeans or a pristine pair of shoes or a sparkling headband on our entry to eternity.
God wants our weakness to create more room for Him, not squeeze Him out in our pursuit of perfection.
And God loves the broken, the lost and the downtrodden so passionately that the thought of anyone creating a “Not Going to be a Blessing” pile, no doubt, breaks His very heart.
And yet, I do. You do. We all do.
Worse yet, we often place ourselves in our own pile of “Not A Blessing.” We cry and lament and complain that we are unlovable and unable to be used. And we find solace in the company of others’ similar misery.
But we are buying into a lie.
One that assumes that Jesus is okay with “I’m a mess beyond redemption” kind of self-talk.
And here is the crazy part, while we are in the middle of our pity parties, Jesus is shouting to us:
“My loves!!!! Being bruised and broken and torn apart are the very reasons I obediently went to the Cross. I don’t want your cleaned-up little life…I want your mess!!! Remember my suffering? The nails? The thorns? Sometimes pain is the perfect beginning to a story that ends in eternity. Let me use it. Let me use you. Let me dwell within your deepest cuts and wounds and broken places!”
Brothers and sisters, the God of the universe and the Savior of the world are shouting to us in unison.
But our modern day need for perfection and control is keeping us in the darkness of our own anxiety and confusion. We are trading His joy for our own junk and His beauty for our ugliness. We are missing the color, the fragrance and the beauty of the gift we say we’ve received.
We are, quite simply, stuck in winter.
But it’s time to get out of the cold. It’s time to say goodbye to the drab, gray mess of disposability and perfection. And it’s blessedly time to move forward into the warmth of grace, hope and life.
Where we see ourselves plainly and honestly but we don’t forget that we were worthy of Cross, worthy of Jesus and worthy of a new name or better still, a new pile. One labeled to reflect the love and mercy it took to build it:
“Messed Up, Bruised, Redeemed and Ready to be Used for all of Eternity.”
Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew and one-year-old Sophie. When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers. But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful.