Sunday, July 11, 2010

Looking for Perfection...and Not Finding It!

Every single time I have a baby I get a face to face confrontation with some of the same old habits that have haunted me for years. One of my worst ones is a tendency toward legalism. It seems that by the time another child comes along, I've spent the past year and a half perfecting my kids' schedules, working out regularly, spending time in the word, cleaning house and frankly, I feel quite good about myself. Why? Because...shhhhhhhhhhh....don't tell anyone...I like order. I also like to work hard and so being that those two things are true of me, I like things to run smoothly and well. I don't want stuff all over my floors or dishes in my sink. I want things looking nicely. I want to feel that I'm on top of things because it makes me feel better.

Nevertheless, this type of personality that plagues me can be both a blessing and a curse. You see, I always walk the line of legalism. I definitely don't struggle with lazy, which is a sin too but legalism...God has some pretty harsh things to say about it. Like you know, he HATES it! I struggle with the balance of wanting to do a good job with things and not knowing when to let go and just let things be. I would be Martha working in the kitchen, angry at her sister, while the GOD who created me was right in my living room. And to be honest, I'd feel pretty self-righteous about my work too and fairly down on my sister Mary. Who does she think she is? Doesn't she know we have dinner to put on? Who cares that He's God when I need to feed all these people? It's easy for me to slip into this mentality when I have things fairly well dialed in which is usually where I find myself right before another infant comes along.

I think God does this on purpose. Oh...she's getting too confident again...better give her another baby and see how she handles that!! And the more I have the more sanctified I get whether I like it or not. You see, I'm just so tired all the time that I could drink caffeine all day and still fall asleep standing up (and the little girl would be screaming from an upset tummy...insult to injury I tell ya). I forget things easily right now and have to apologize for being late on things I shouldn't be. Luckily we're getting meals because if it weren't for them, we'd be eating Mac n' Cheese every night. And please, if you come by my house, don't look closely at my bathrooms because frankly, they're hideous.

I'm used to feeling strong and capable but in reality I'm weak, forgetful, at times confused and simply plum tuckered out. Of course this is all normal but it's so hard to accept. And for me, accepting help from others is even harder. This is what happens to me every time and every time God has something else for me to learn in it. A bunch of different personalities around my table at night also reminds me of all that God is teaching me. My children are far from perfect and their struggles are MY struggles. Mine are just masked because I know far better how to hide and still appear fine. But the hiding is sin. Outward appearances and rules don't make one righteous. Forgiveness from sins through Christ, His redemption and grace do. Having an infant in the house brings me back to this ground zero and reminds me of my frailty.

Just this morning, my third-born Curious George was found in the church kitchen many, many times and at least once he was turning the burners on. Note to self: continue to work tirelessly with Joshua on first-time obedience. My second son got in a fight with his buddy on the playground. Check, check: continue to work with Caleb on self-control. And my oldest, well he came home begging to play a game with me and reminded me we hadn't played one together in a few days (major guilt-horrible mom). Mental note: continue to remind Isaac to be content and grateful for we do play a game together most days (also remind myself that I do need to keep playing with him even when I'm tired.) Oh my goodness. And that was just this morning. I can't really keep up and even when I think I can, one of the boys throws me a curve ball.

But really, I'm not made to keep up. I can desire to do a good job and work hard but once I start thinking I'm so in control then I've crossed the legalism line and I'm putting on a show. God does want me to be diligent in my work and working hard for my family is a good thing. However, thinking that I'm pulling off my daily tasks is quite another. To be honest, if God wasn't giving me patience, grace and love, I'd be a pretty lousy mother no matter how spic and span my bathrooms are. I'd also be a horribly cold wife as well and no one wants to sleep with an icy, dripping faucet.

So what am I trying to say? I don't really know. Just that I'm finding myself in that same spot yet again...tired, needing help and behind on everything. But I've also come to understand, after many times now in this spot, that in time, I'll be able to pick myself back up, feel a bit more normal (as I get more sleep) and I will get the hang of things a bit someday. And maybe, through Elliana's arrival, I will learn to let go just a little bit more than I did before and grasp a hold of the joy God wants me to suck out of this sweet life He's given to me.

That's what having children does. I think a lot of women struggle in this way and when God gives us children, He uses them to kick our selfishness, legalism, greed and pride right out the window. So here's to being sanctified. I won't even try to fight it this least not too much.


  1. amen to that. and i got to hold baby while all the boys were being naughty, a blessing in disguise!

  2. Nikki,

    Have you read the book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World"? You sure sound like you have from your post. If you haven't it is a GREAT book (and it even comes with a little bible study at the back to do for each chapter). Love to you and your family! Sonja

  3. I got here from Kate Hasson's blog and I love your perspectives on life and motherhood and everything (we are reformed Christians too!) and I have been mulling something you said in this post over for a couple of weeks:

    I definitely don't struggle with lazy, which is a sin too but legalism...God has some pretty harsh things to say about it.

    After I read this, I just got lost in the thought that it must be so nice not to suffer from this besetting sin of laziness. How I would love to have your problem of doing too much and doing it to perfection and always feeling the need to be so on top of things, requiring a lot of others because of my own diligence. I definitely suffer from laziness in a big way, so it's like a dream to me to easily just be able to "do the next thing" without fighting myself about it. Anyway, it got me to thinking though after reading the rest of your post that both of our sins bring us to the same place: frustration, anger, resentment, weariness. Me wishing for your affliction is so foolish! And that's where my sin has gotten me, wishing that I had a different sin to struggle with! Crazy. And we all need Jesus, to claim his victory over all of our sins, no matter what they are. So I've tried to be resolute to be in the Word more and be in prayer more because that's the only way I see out of my predicament.

    Sorry for my ramble, I'm sure it made very little sense, your post was just very though provoking for me. :)