And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than you soul?
If you've read my blog for any length of time you're aware that I struggled through a time of infertility before being blessed with my precious son, Dayton. And I feel that since I begged and pleaded and wept innumerable tears for this child that I should be the absolute best mother that I can be. Of course, there are countless resources and influences competing for my attention in the instruction of how to achieve this goal. Everything from newsletters filling my inbox, to magazines crowding my end table, to Pinterest and Facebook filling up multiple tabs on my browser. And of course, the good ol' fashioned advice from friends, family, acquaintances, and people I've never met before in my life. Oh, and not to leave out pediatricians, nurses, and other professionals of varying backgrounds. It's an information overload and it results in immense pressure. Especially for someone hardwired for perfection.
You see, I can't look at a list of the 25 best activities/habits/learning concepts to do with your toddler and choose just one or two to start with. I have to try the whole 25 because that's the best way, the perfect way, the 'mom of the year' way. But since that's impossible, I end up doing none of them and feeling like 'crummy mom of the year' instead. I can't possibly use all of the advice I'm given, I can't possibly live up to the standard of every best practice, I can't possibly do all of the ideas of Pinterest. But the perfectionist in me says that I fail if I don't and that has left me frozen in inaction.
Truth be told, I've been drowning under all this pressure---mostly imposed upon by my own self, I willingly admit. Drowning, and yet dying of thirst. You know, water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink! I get that. I totally get that.
But this weekend I was given an opportunity to wade knee deep in the Living Water. O, how it watered this parched and weary soul.
Twenty-four of us from my church convoyed over to Cedar Point for Point Fest, their annual Christian music festival. I debated for a couple of weeks whether or not to go--the money & leaving my son ALL.DAY. being two main reasons holding me back (it's hard to spend money on yourself after having a child--it just is!). But as this dry feeling began eroding more and more of my joy, my resolve, my drive, my sanity it became clear that I needed this badly. I didn't know what God would give me but He always shows up when I go looking. Always. And so I prayed for something, anything, that He wanted to give me, I said I'd take it.
Four bands, each giving a different message, each one profound, powerful, and of God. But the one that hit me the deepest, the one I'm holding on to and declaring for my truth from the Almighty Himself, came from Toby Mac at the end of the night. In a song I've had on my iPod for years and have listened to many times but that night I heard it with fresh ears. It struck me like a bolt of lightning, the floodgates of heaven opened in my soul and the water came rushing in. It'd be trickling through all day, soaking in slow and steady, but in this moment, I was drenched in the Living Water.
'I don't wanna gain the whole world, and lose my soul'.
I don't want to be mother of the year
and lose every semblance of grace in the process.
I don't want to spend time reading about mothering while ignoring the one who needs mothered. I don't want to waste time talking about mothering while the one who needs mothered is trying to get my attention. I don't want to be supermom, that mom, a Pinterest mom, and end up with a child that had 'perfection' but no modeling of grace, joy, and redemption. I don't want to be the best mom anymore, I want to be the mom who does what's best for my family.
You see, I've been striving after the wrong things. I've been chasing someone else's standard, even chasing my standard is wrong. It's God's standard that matters. God's standard is grace, but I've been living in un-grace. No grace for myself, no grace for the ones around me. God's standard is love but it's awfully hard to love when you're living in un-grace. God's standard is joy, praise, gratitude, but un-grace will suck that out of a life at warp speed. Un-grace is the offspring of perfectionism bred with disappointment.
But as a redeemed child of God and a divinely appointed mother of my son, I can live in grace. I can model forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. I can praise and worship with my heart, my attitude, my words, and my song. I can show Dayton that it's okay to be imperfect, to mess up, to struggle (because I don't think for a moment the struggle is over just because I had an a-ha moment), because God is bigger than our biggest messes and His grace never runs out. I want to show Dayton with my life, not just teach him with my words, that gaining the whole world is worth absolutely nothing, if you lose your soul in the process.
If were to somehow meet every standard I've encountered in the world, to teach Dayton everything he's supposed to learn right on schedule, to prepare every meal with creativity and perfect nutrition, to do it all, it would mean NOTHING, nothing, nothing, NOTHING, if were to also lose my soul to un-grace in the process. Heaven forbid it. I'd rather lose a whole lot of the perfect and keep my soul alive in grace instead. Hallelujah! Amen.