on gritty grace

Posted: May 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today at the shelter we had a belated Mother’s Day celebration.  There had been a nice dinner on the actual holiday, but this afternoon was set aside for a more intimate gathering.  One of the most truly beautiful women I have ever known came to play her guitar and sing songs that got right to the heart of the pain, joy and hopes that are motherhood, especially for those who live along the margins.  The ladies were given framed family portraits that had been taken recently, as well as beautiful bags that had been handmade by other impoverished ladies from across the globe.  There was good food.  And everyone was invited to share what motherhood means to them.

It was a many-kleenexed occasion – a soul-nourishing, spirit-raising afternoon.  To sit in a room of so much collective pain and witness glimpses of the triumph of the human spirit (which is so clearly created by God and not by accident) – just wow.  Powerful stuff.

Motherhood means many things to me.  I’d give a different answer to you probably every single time you asked, even if you asked me every day for a year.  Today’s thought:  motherhood is a place we experience and witness God’s grace in powerful ways.

Looking back, I can easily see many things I did right as a mom.  I can just as easily see many things I did wrong.  I am continually amazed at how often I made appalling choices, thinking FOR SURE that  I was doing the right thing.  It’s always easier to see later whether it was right or wrong.  My motivations and manipulations are much clearer to me in hindsight; I’ve been pretty consistent in my ability to fool myself in the moment.

Here’s the thing:  God covered it all over with so much grace.  I think of the scripture that says love covers a multitude of sins.  Oh man…ain’t that the truth?  More than once in my history as a parent, I have slammed into the horrifying place of thinking I blew it, I ruined it, this can never be fixed.  I’m not talking about little superficial stuff that I picture soccer moms obsessing over.   I’m talking about choices with consequences that have teeth, claws, and staying power.

Once upon a time when I fancied myself a supermom, I spent a lot of time being critical of “bad moms.”  I was an expert at noticing their shortcomings and somehow I seemed to think that my wrath and general displeasure somehow changed their children’s worlds.

But along the way, I noticed that the love of a child for a parent is a nearly unstoppable force.  It is almost impossible to be such a bad parent that your child does not want your love and/or is unwilling to find reasons to love you right in the midst of your craptastic parenting.  The most abused, neglected, ill-treated child will reach for one more chance with the parent if the slightest glimmer of hope reveals itself.

This made me angry at first.  Why should an innocent child be repeatedly victimized by poor parenting?  Later, it left me relieved.  It bought me extra chances at times when I feared I had used all of my chances up.

This design of grace offered through the so-called weak ones, the children…it looks like God stuff to me.  Isn’t it just like Him to pour extravagant, unreasonable amounts of grace out through the smallest, most fragile and slender vessels?  Looking back, I see the evidence of this pouring across the span of my life as a parent, and today I am well beyond grateful.

When it comes to celebrating motherhood, I’ll happily embrace it this way.  For me, it is much more honest than trying to live up to some idealized notion of perfection.  I guess it’s safe to say my supermom complex is dead.

That’s reason enough to be grateful.

much love,

k

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