I had big ambitions to do a “31 days” series this month. But now it’s October 10th and the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write and I’m feeling totally uninspired by my “ordinary” topic. My sister Taryn suggested “31 days of writing about being a mom and anything related to Jesus,” which is a bit more inspiring and really not that far from my ordinary life but doesn’t make time to write any more accessible.
I was hoping the series would lead to a blog revival, but instead it just felt like one more thing on a my already-unachievable to-do list. So I’ve been thinking about that to-do list. Somewhere along the way, I’ve established an unrealistic, arbitrary standard for myself. A standard that says I must cross everything off of my to-do list. A standard that demands organized closets and Pinterest-worthy DIY home decor and well-behaved children and daily blogging. A standard of being well-liked or admired or at least not judged. A standard that frowns on naps and snaps at interruptions and then condemns for snapping. And my standard makes me feel constantly rushed, behind, irritable, and a little bit like a failure.
When I was studying Romans (and reading Elyse Fitzpatrick’s, Comforts from Romans), I was deeply struck by Paul’s questions and answers in Romans 8:
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (vs. 33-35)
There is no one who can condemn me, because it is God who justifies! A few months ago, resting in this reality was so liberating. I felt the freedom to publicly share my testimony, clinging to this precious truth: that in Christ, there is no condemnation for me, despite what anyone else may say or think (Romans 8:1). And even when my heart condemns me, God is greater than my heart (1 John 3:20).
But despite this sweet truth that brought me so much rest in sharing about my past, I quickly fall back into striving to prove myself–frantically trying to do more, better, faster.
And, quite frankly, I am tired.
Now, let me just say, I’ve written about this feeling of failure before. What the world offers in response is a pep talk: You’re not failing! You can do this! And I think what the Bible offers us is the truth: You are failing! You can’t obey perfectly, that’s why you need Jesus! Run to Him! We can’t lower God’s standard to make our failures less failing. We will never come out perfectly no matter how hard we try apart from Christ.
But in Christ I am “Chosen, Daughter, Righteous, Honored, Heir, Forgiven, Redeemed.” And so I can rest! I don’t rest because I’ve somehow made God’s law achievable, but because Jesus fulfilled God’s law perfectly on my behalf. There’s nothing more to do for God, because God has already done it all for me.
How quickly I forget and manufacture my own law. And while obedience to God’s perfect law that flows from faith that we’ve been united to Christ brings life and joy and peace, my law is lame. It enslaves me to the approval of others and, whether consciously or not, leaves me striving to prove my worth before God.
So enough of that. I’m letting my law go.
My law that says I want my house to be neat and I need to stop kicking this box around:
My law that says toddlers don’t get ice cream in carseats:
My law that says I’m too busy making dinner to stop and have a dance party:
My law that puts all my “urgent tasks” above what actually matters–to love God and to love my neighbor. “My neighbor” that most often comes in the form of a 5-week old, 21-month old, and 5-year old.
The to-do list remains, I’ll admit. If I didn’t write down what does need to get done we’d all be in trouble. But I’m letting go of the “I suck” feeling when I just have to re-write all my “someday projects” on next week’s list.
And maybe I’m letting go of some of those “someday projects,” because I really just wanted to do them someday to be impressive and actually they sound pretty terrible.
It all may be easier said than done. But it’s shed new light on the intersection of the Gospel with my life as a homemaker. The answer is not so much “put your work down and play with your children” as much as it’s “Rest in what Christ has done for you.” When we find that rest for our souls in Christ and Christ alone, we are free.
So be free! Be free to spend your day enjoying Jesus and the good works He’s prepared for you. Be free to have joy even if the list goes unchecked. Be free to have patience when interruptions come, because the work you’re trying to accomplish doesn’t earn you any favor before God. Be free to clean and organize as it blesses your family and others, not to achieve some un-liveable standard of perfection. Be free from facebook comparisons and blogging failures. Be free from the judgment and condemnation of others. Be free to tell the truth about not having it all together.
And when you fail even at “being free”–when you fail at believing you’re Chosen, Daughter, Righteous, Honored, Heir, Forgiven, Redeemed–then (especially then) be free to run to Jesus, messy and broken, so you can find rest for your weary soul (Matthew 11:28).