When Reality Does Not Live Up to Expectations
Submitted by Jennifer Power
I spent a lot of time being practical in my last blog series, Raising Kids with a Kind Heart Who Love the Lord, but sometimes in the midst of practicality there can be a disconnect from reality.
I began to feel a bit overwhelmed earlier this week with just how badly I do not have it together. I do not know what it was about that particular day, but after my children were asleep I began looking at my life and seeing the many, many flaws. Earlier that day I compared my life to one of the Spiritual Disciplines posts I had written and found myself lacking.
I felt the burden of not living up to instructions I was giving to others.
I looked around my house and saw the messy living room, thought about the dirty dishes in the kitchen, the baths my children did not receive, the lack of order and healthfulness in my shopping and cooking lately and the exercise I have not recently been getting.
I thought about the disorganization in my home, the lack of décor, the many appointments I needed to make and errands I had been putting off getting done.
In near despair I thought about how little sleep my husband and I had been getting and how extraordinarily difficult it had been to get even a few moments to myself to think clearly or pray purposefully. With my husband working for a few hours each morning before I go in to work, I have had our girls with me for my daily commute to the church and by the time I go home after each day my mind has often turned to mush.
As I turned over these thoughts, I putzed through the different rooms of our home picking up something here and putting away something there. It did not take long to realize I did not have the energy to complete a single task in entirely, so I gave up and went to bed.
As I prepared for bed I thought “tonight, I will just come up with a plan to get it all together,” but I did not get in a single thought to that end before I fell asleep. This is probably for the best; any plan I would have concocted to get my life together would have failed – I know myself well enough by now to know this is true.
As is normally the case, the morning light did not bring the despair of the previous evening. I went about my day without the “woe is me” mentality which had just haunted me in the exhaustion and darkness of night.
Life resumed as usual and I realized everything was not nearly so bad as I had made it out to be. Sure, there are a number of suggestions from my recent series on child raising to which I need to give attention, but instead of feeling like a hypocrite, I remembered I prefaced the whole series by stating I do not have this all down.
At a slightly better rested time I looked back through all five posts from that series to see how my life really compared to my suggestions, and it turns out I might actually get it right more often than I get it wrong.
That is the beauty of God’s grace in my life. Not only has He rescued me from the fate of my sinfulness, but He has released me from the grip of sin and death. He actually is transforming me to His image. He actually is transforming my will to His. His Holy Spirit in my life truly does make me a better person – a more Christ-like person – day by day.
I still get a lot – a lot – wrong, and there are days when this truth crashes into my awareness and breaks me. I look at the pretty little picture in my head of how I think my life should look and cringe when I am forced to compare it to reality.
My emotions are not very even keeled. I tend to view the world through rose-colored glasses. I quickly believe the best without pausing to consider whether my view may be tainted. I quickly take people at face value without assuming alternate intentions. I quickly believe I can be everything I would like to be if only I set my resolve firm one more time. This would all be well and good if I could maintain such a viewpoint, but it always seems to crash.
My own ability to live up crashes.
People’s ability to live up to my perception crashes.
And then the pieces must be picked up, and in picking up the pieces, a more even keeled reality sets in. Only then can life go on – with realistic optimism and a better grasp on reality.
You see, we must all live in the tensions of reality. The stark truth about my life is I am deeply flawed – deeply flawed while totally covered, totally forgiven, totally free, and fully His. As one who is fully His, I am equipped with the mighty and awesome power of the Holy Spirit.
I can never forget either of these realities. If I focus on my utter sinfulness while forgetting about the source of power and life within me, I will fall into despair and hopelessness and will not live the life Jesus has freed me to live. If I focus solely on my redemptive state and forget I am flawed, I will crash into despair when my failures inevitably fly back into view.
Both sides are acts of grace.
That He humbles me when I forget I am nothing without Him…is an act of grace.
That He kneels down in front of me and gently lifts my head when the weight of my sin crushes me…is an act of grace.
I just do not think I could live without Him.
May the beauty of His grace crash into YOU today.