As a mother to eleven children I’m here to tell you that motherhood can be hard. More importantly, though, we moms tend to be too hard on ourselves. Whether it’s through comparing ourselves to others, feeling inadequate in our ability to raise our children well, or sometimes just feeling downright lonely, we often tend to put ourselves last in practically everything we do. And while we should certainly always be attentive to the needs of our children and husbands, forgetting ourselves completely in the midst of caring for everyone else can be downright detrimental to the relationships we work so hard towards.
Becky Thompson, author of Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart, eloquently reminds us over and over again in this heartfelt book of one thing- God loves us and is there for us through it all. Although many of us ‘know’ this already, sometimes it can be so hard to remember and truly believe that when we are going through our toughest times.
Becky Thompson doesn’t pull any punches in this book. Each chapter is filled with experiences that have happened to her throughout her life, told in such a genuine manner that it honestly feels as if she’s sitting right there in your living room, speaking to you over a cup of coffee. I so appreciate the openness she shares because, let’s face it, ladies, all too often we’re not too straightforward with each other when it comes to our personal lives. She brilliantly uses each of these narratives to illustrate how certain biblical truths can appear to us in day-to-day situations without us ever realizing it.
I, personally, have two favorite sections that I’ll tell you just a little about. Let me begin by saying that my house will never make it into “Better Homes and Gardens.” Despite my best intentions, my house just can’t stay clean longer than 30 minutes after chores are completed. Although we do chores 2-3 times a day, chances are, if you come to my house unexpectedly, you’re going to see a mess. In fact, just today our oldest son who no longer lives at home stopped by right after chore time and said, “Wow. The house is actually clean.”
This has always bothered me more than it probably should. You know that hospitality thing we’re supposed to exhibit? I’m not very good at it. When my kids’ friends come over, they usually have to stay outside because I don’t want them to see the chaos that is my house each and every day. I can be pretty hard on myself about this and often think that I must be the only woman who can’t keep a clean house, which is why I’ve marked this excerpt in the book to reread whenever I’m feeling this way:
“But truthfully, I am sitting on my couch next to a pile of laundry at nine o’clock at night, with a sink full of dishes and a kids’ bathroom that still has wet bath towels on the floor…
…the kitchen island is covered in syrup and pasta sauce. The bread bag needs to be closed and put away. The pots soaking in my sink from yesterday need to be washed. And something smells in my refrigerator.”
I was so delighted to read that that I read it aloud for my daughter to hear, and she just looked at me like, Yeah, okay, weirdo.
The point of this story? We are not our mess.
“The messy areas of your life do not tell a story of your failures. Those areas tell the story of your humanity, and they are a continual reminder of your need for a Savior.”
The other section I want to share with you has to do with judging and being judged. Full disclosure- I’m an INFJ personality type, and if you’re unfamiliar with what that is, I’ll just say that that ‘J’ stands for “judging.” (Why do I get the feeling that my regular readers are not surprised? *sheepish grin*)
I can be pretty judgmental, and I always feel like I’m being judged, so this next excerpt really hit home with me. Let me set the stage for you: Becky and her husband are out to eat with their newborn son when he has an ‘explosion’ in his diaper and it gets everywhere. Since it’s cold outside, she decides to sit in the cargo area of their vehicle with the baby in order to get him cleaned up. The problem? The back hatch doesn’t open from the inside for them to get out…
“So, I laid Kolton down on the floor of the cargo space, climbed over the seats by myself, went out the door, around to the back, and picked up my newborn.
But as I picked up the baby and closed the back hatch, I realized that about a dozen people had come out of the restaurant just as I was retrieving Kolton.
Their faces said it all! They thought that I had driven to IHOP with my newborn just rolling around in the cargo space.”
Have you ever been in a predicament like this? A time when you may have been seen doing something unusual, but the person wasn’t in on why you were doing it? Did you feel judged? How many times do you think it may have happened that we were the ones doing the judging?
A few years ago, I had organized a Homeschool Presentation Day to be held at my church. It was about 11am a few days before, and the kids and I were busy doing trial runs on all of their experiments they would be performing there. I was still in my bathrobe because I had never taken the time to get dressed, and Caollin and I were busy working on her candy volcano, which was made of jello. We had to use a shot glass that I had borrowed from my in-laws to make the crater in the volcano, and we needed soda to pour over some Mentos in the crater to produce the eruption. At the time, the only soda we had was a six-pack of Stewarts Root Beer.
In the midst of getting everything ready, there was a knock at the door. It was my pastor and a deacon. They had been trying to call me to find out which room in the church I would be using, but I had forgotten to update the church directory with our new phone number, so they just drove on over. So…there I was, answering the door at 11am in my bathrobe holding a shot glass in my hand, a house full of kids, jello all over the table, and what looked suspiciously like a bottle of beer (ever notice how much Stewarts Root Beer bottles look like actual beer?) sitting in the jello mess.
I was so flustered by the day’s events that it didn’t even dawn on me until after they left what that all must have looked like. And, boy, did I feel embarrassed, and, yes, judged, because I could just imagine what they were thinking.
Until reading this book, I never thought to apply that experience to times when I may have seen someone else in a seemingly precarious predicament.
Hope Unfolding is the perfect book for any mother or mother-to-be. It is an encouragement and a beautiful reminder that we may think we’re a mess, but God loves us in the midst of the mess.
(Disclosure- I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.)