A two minute chat with a couple of nine year olds left me unravelled.
My daughter’s class were bush dancing for their PE session. Their knees lifted high and their heads bobbed as they heel-toe, heel-toed back and forth in front of me. It looked like so much fun that I decided to join in. (The school encourages parent involvement). Bouncing along beside them, I locked eyes with different ones and grinned as I copied their movements.
When the music ended, the PE leaders moved to the stereo to restart the song. The students clustered together, panting steadily.
I stepped close to a huddle of girls. “Phew, that was hard work.” I patted my stomach. “Especially when you’ve just finished breakfast.”
One of the girls looked at me, her lovely eyes wide. “Have you only just eaten breakfast?”
“Ye-es.” My mind raced, clutching at a good excuse. “I do that last. Today I finished eating on the way here while my son drove.” That was fifteen minutes ago.
She looked at me blankly, seemingly shocked.
I make a habit of chatting to my daughter’s classmates each morning. Somehow I’d missed this one. Until today. Right at that moment she was forming her view of me. Probably not a good one.
“I’m not an early riser.” I smiled apologetically. “Do you get up early?”
My mind flitted back to some things I’d heard about their family lifestyle. This girl would have been up for hours. Breakfast, for her, was a distant memory. Unlike me.
Another girl – one I knew well – leaned forward, tilting her head while tiny furrows formed in her brow. I could almost hear the cogs turning as her deep blue eyes questioned me. “So, do you brush your teeth before breakfast?”
I paused and took a deep breath. “No, I haven’t brushed my teeth yet.”
I could almost hear their gasp.
“I’ll do them when I get home.”
My flustered thoughts were interrupted by another question from girl number one. “Do you go out to work?”
I pictured the way I was dressed. Black track pants, joggers and an ugly red polar fleece – unattractive but warm. Perfect for a day at home. Unimpressive compared to a working mum’s stylish garments.
“No, I’m a writer.” Well, technically that wasn’t true. “I stay at home and do writing.” My voice faded as I ran out of words.
The music began and I retreated from the group to watch. My mind was in a whirl, struggling with the desire to explain all the good things I did. All the ways I fit the ‘perfect mother’ mould.
Far out God, am I really that insecure?
It took a little while to shake off the sense of failure. I’m not like the mothers of those girls. I don’t get up early and dress smartly for work. I’m not so efficient with the morning routine. Some days I don’t finish my breakfast till after everyone’s gone to school.
But I am loved.
One thing I’ve learnt in the past few years is that God’s love for me isn’t dependent on my performance. Because of His character, that love is faithful and steady. Unchanging. Regardless of my failings.
I’ve found that the more I face up to my frailty, the more I feel His boundless love.
Even better, that love lives in me. Because I’ve invited Him to flood my life, I carry His presence within me. I may be inadequate. He is more than enough. I may be ordinary. He is extraordinary.
God loves to do the unexpected. He puts treasure in jars of clay. Gives beauty for ashes; joy for mourning. Pours His overcoming strength into those who have nothing left.
I can identify with the clay jar – an ordinary, insignificant household item in Bible times – a bit chipped around the outside and able to be broken. It’s God’s constant, loving presence that gives me worth. Because of Him, I always have something to offer those around me. Even on the most ordinary days.
My worth comes not from myself but from the treasure I carry. And it seems the more cracks I let people see, the more His goodness is able to shine through.
When God is present, ordinary becomes something beautiful.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. ” 2 Corinthians 4: 7, 16.
(Photo taken from Homeschooling Against All Odds/Homeschool411.com)