The whirlwind of the morning was starting to wear me down. In a mere thirty minutes my un-showered self and my tribe of three were supposed to be out the door, in the car, and on our way to church. Dad was volunteering at church that morning, so he was already gone, but we were going to show up kind and well-behaved and on time, ready with our “so good to see you!” smiles because, for the love, it was church! And church is for Jesus, so our good behavior counts extra there.
(No, it doesn’t.)
(But if I’m real honest I tend to act like it does, like if I can appear really “together” in God’s house then I don’t have to be quite as “together” outside of it.)
(But that’s another story. Let’s get back to this one.)
And then I saw it. The pink. Permanent pink, I should add. It was on the couch. It was on the table. It was on the walls tracking from the playroom up the stairs. Y’all, it was on my daughter’s English muffin, which traced it right back to the source.
“Harper, what’s on your hands?”
“Oh, mommy, I was just making cards for you!”
“Ok, well can I see your hands?”
Shyly, slowly, with the trepidation of a dozen excuses that she couldn’t quite find at the tip of her tongue, she turned her hands over.
Ten fingers, perfectly dipped in a pink embossing stamp pad that mommy thought she had put high enough on the shelf. But is anything ever too high for a three-year-old? No. They have ninja like qualities we don’t even know about, and they are stealth enough to open the once out of reach goods as far out of eyesight as they can get from mommy, too.
But church, CHURCH! We are supposed to go to church now! And church is for Jesus, three-year-old! And that means we should act like him, dang it!
(You know where this is going, yes?)
I have to parent no more than one hour every morning before hypocrisy slaps me in the face.
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately with John Piper’s words. And as always, they are compelling—as beautifully crafted as they are powerfully convicting. One of the lessons that I’ve been working out in my heart is what Piper calls “a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion: to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his excellence.” Enjoy God. Show Him to others. Piper says it is our aim to “joyfully magnify Christ—to make Him look great in all that we do.”
Here’s the thing, I read those words just two hours before the great ink-down in our house. And when I looked around at the pink that may or may not come off of the various surfaces ten little fingers had left it, I wanted to be mad. I wanted to yell. I wanted to shame my little three-year-old into a behavior that would make my morning easier, especially because we were going to church. I mean, didn’t she know that?!
But those words… enjoy God, show Him to others. The mirror of my own reproof spun right around, and all I could think of was my own heart. The correction from the Lord felt something like this:
Katie, don’t you dare enjoy Me just in the church lobby.
Or to earn favor among friends.
Or to scratch and claw for influence.
Or to be seen or heard or applauded.
Enjoy Me because I am God. Show Me to others because I am good.
And really, before you worry one bit about how your Christianity is displayed on the outside, know that I care so much more how it is displayed in your home. Show Me to your babies. Tell them how gracious I am, and live out what loving-kindness actually looks like. Discipline because you love them, but love them as you discipline.
This is your work today. These three faces, one with pink ink staining her fingers, are my sweet gift to you. Be glad in me so you can help them to be glad in Me, too. The hope of both of your lives is faith in Me.
There are a lot of days that I feel like I am drowning in little people. And responsibilities. And dreams. And so many- mostly good- things. But I know that it is in those moments when it’s most important to ask Jesus to help me make Him look great in all I do. All I do. A deep breath, a prayer, and a gentle correction, then the whole trajectory of our morning is different. The role of mama was not given to me because I am good enough for it; it was given to me because God knew he was going to show me more of Himself in this way. And he is, every single day. My inadequacies- and they are many- remind me each hour that I need his grace, and that it will be enough.
“God made me a mother because he jealously and rightly desires praise for his own name, and this is how he saw fit to do it. God aims to glorify himself through our family, and we get to be carried along by his grace.” –Gloria Furman