Can I just be honest?
I am a hot mess.
A real, true, legitimate, desperately-in-need-of-the-grace-of-Jesus, failing-every-day, Googling-and-praying-my-way-through-adoption-parenting, white hot MESS.
This week alone, I have prioritized projects over people, productivity over presence and the people OUTSIDE my home more than those inside.
I have woken up too early and gone to bed too late and allowed my sleep deprivation to do my talking. (And it didn't choose to use its nice words.)
I have skipped precious quiet time with Jesus to check emails and pay bills, and I have turned down beautiful invitations to kiddo checkers games to complete menial tasks that totally could have waited.
Although we made meals and desserts for our superheroes’ teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week, only one of these four hours of my life was fun.
The first one.
At which point the fun continued only because Mom, after giving each superhero a special cooking drink, poured one for herself.
And not the sparkling lemonade kind.
Though I love these superheroes madly, in the last week, I have used critical words instead of encouraging ones and a raised voice instead of a patient one. I have given consequences for behavior and totally forgotten to evaluate the heart. I’ve expected performance and demanded perfection. (Okay, but to be fair, Jesus, how many times do we have to demonstrate what a clean floor looks like before we can expect it from the 9-year-old?!) And I totally skipped out on bedtime stories at least half the days of this totally crazy week.
Last week, my physician assistant hubby returned from a week-long business trip where he was literally working day and night to treat patients and save lives in an understaffed facility that couldn’t care for every human there.
And I in all my self-entitled glory assaulted him before the sun woke up on the day after he returned with tears and criticism because, although he’d texted and emailed every single day, he had never called. And this high-maintenance wife had the audacity to tell him that she didn’t feel remembered and loved.
Because calling should clearly take priority over human life.
God bless that ever-patient man.
I love life, but in high school, I loved “looking good” more. So I tanned in beds and on beaches for an entire season of my life and now have spots and moles that have to be mapped and checked by a dermatologist annually to ensure that none of them turn to the cancerous kind.
I have bruises up and down my legs from buckling kicking 4-year-olds into car seats in oversized vans, but you rarely see those legs because there’s no time for shaving in this house.
Not when my 10 minutes of what is supposed to be quiet shower glory is interrupted by boys daily banging on glass to tattle on one another. For pouring the other person’s breakfast.
On Saturday, I pulled Superhero 4’s industrial-weight walker from the van … and dropped it on my big toe, which then turned the nail partially purple and chipped the paint that was applied by the only pedicure specialist I will see this year, the one who made these nasty feet look pretty for surprise birthdays in Lake Tahoe.
And this girl didn’t have a matching color to cover up the chip and the purple toe and was too cheap to see her three-week-old pedicure go to waste. So she covered up this beauty with the only color she had.
A different one.
Which is how yesterday, I ended up like THIS — in a paper gown in a dermatology patient care room with unshaven legs, bruised knees and two different colored toe nails, being inspected in my totally exposed state by a woman eyeing my near-naked parts with special glasses.
And yet, in the midst of all of THIS, this week, an acquaintance caught me on the ONE day I had showered and attempted to brush my hair. The one day I was wearing real human clothes instead of sweat clothes that half the time never get sweated IN. The one day I had gotten enough sleep that my concealer actually covered up the normally much darker circles under my eyes and I was actually skipping and singing children's songs alongside Superhero 4 in his walker instead of just sleepwalking beside him while my toes got run over.
And from this one unicorn-like snapshot of my life, this beautiful but totally misled woman said to me, "Girl, how do you always have your life so put together? I could never do what you do."
And then, after looking around to see which human she must be speaking to, I stared at her like she had two heads.
Because THIS little whirlwind of chaos is the LAST thing any human should ever call "put together."
Don't hear me wrong. I embrace and ADORE this messy, crazy life! We are far too blessed to be stressed! But "PUT together" is NOT the word anyone should use to describe this tornadic team.
In fact, this girl is only HELD together by a whole lotta coffee and a whole lotta Jesus. And two amazing parents she convinced to move up the street. And one amazing husband with the patience and endurance of a saint. And the promise that through Christ, this girl can do all things.
[Except convince her boys that personal hygiene matters.]
Do you know what's dangerous?
For others to think that we as women or Christians or mamas or adoptive families have it "all together."
Because that means that they might then make the totally erroneous assumption that THEY must have it all together before doing some of the same things God has called THEM to do.
Like reclaim hope for the fatherless.
Change the orphan story.
Love on and raise up children whose "special needs" are just superpowers in disguise.
These things are not just for people who have it all together. These things are not just for "perfect" families.
These things are for imperfect families trusting in a perfect God to pour out HIS perfect love into imperfect human hearts to redeem the brokenness that this fallen world has caused.
They're not just for mamas who can get themselves dressed seven days a week.
Not just for mamas who look like they know what they're doing.
Not just for mamas who only speak to their 17 children in matching red-white-and-blue outfits in sing-songy tones and never lose their patience.
They're for all of us God calls.
They're ESPECIALLY for us.
They're for us who know the beauty and value of adoption because WE'VE ALREADY EXPERIENCED this gift ourselves.
By a Heavenly Father.
Who better to adopt than the adopted?
But even as we hear God calling — no matter what it is He is calling us to — we too often look to our left and to our right and see the people doing what God has called US to do, and we see them doing it so WELL. And we become intimidated. And we become scared. And we feel completely and totally inadequate and fall into paralysis.
And so instead of doing something, we do nothing and just sit and stare instead.
Let’s just be honest — I will NEVER do adoption life the way my best friends and heroes do. I am just not that amazing, nice or kind. I will never be a Rebecca or a Stefanie. I will never be a Leia Capps. I will never be any of the beautiful blog families I adore following online.
And it's a good thing. Because those beautiful, precious, totally inspiring people are ALREADY TAKEN.
God isn't asking me to be the next Rebecca or Stefanie or Leia or the next amazing adoption advocate. He's simply asking to use ME. Right where I'm at. In all my hot mess. With my mismatching toenails and all my parenting flaws.
By His grace. In His power. With HIS strength.
But if I spend my time comparing my life and skills to those of the incredible women already DOING THE THING, I will rob myself of the opportunity of being used by the living God.
Because friends, comparison isn’t just the thief of joy. It’s the thief of ACTION.
If I can just compare myself long enough to the women in my life actually DOING the thing I would LOVE to do, I'll convince myself that I will never be good enough to do what THEY make look SO EASY each and every day.
Even when, behind the curtain, I know it's not.
The same way this totally deceived and bamboozled woman had somehow convinced herself that she could "never do what I do."
The thing is, we only see a snapshot of others' lives. We only see the beautiful moments when every kid is actually wearing underwear and Mom is super aware that she takes a circus everywhere she goes and people are watching.
Can I just be real for a minute and admit that it’s a whole lot easier to be a great mama when I have the accountability of an entire Walmart store?
This woman didn't see the dinnertime wars. She didn't see the van fights. She didn't see the mama failures that demand daily apologies from faking-it-till-they-make-it mamas behind closed doors.
She didn't see my mess. She didn't see my tears. She didn't see the worst of me that shows up every minute this evil heart is left to its own devices.
She didn't see the totally exposed, real and raw, there's-no-hiding-the-truth paper gown moments my own FAMILY sees each and every day.
She, like all of us, only saw a glimpse. A moment. A brief snapshot in time. And assumed that that microsecond of a pretty picture applied to an entire lifetime. When in reality, it was probably the only time this year our life will ever actually look like that.
And from that glimpse, she drew the false conclusion that she "could never do that." When in reality, with Jesus, I am 500 percent positive she could do it a whole lot better than this girl.
Orphan Warriors, whatever it is God is calling you to do, stop overanalyzing. Stop comparing. Stop observing everyone else and talking yourself out of the unique gifts He has given just to YOU.
God isn't calling everyone else to the cause of your heart. He is calling YOU.
You, sweet and beautiful friend. YOU.
You are the only one who can do YOU.
So put down the comparisons. Lay down the defeat. Stop worrying that you'll never measure up to what appear to be picture-perfect people who are actually just apologizing to their kids behind the scenes.
Go. Move. Act. Step out in faith. Don’t wait until you get your act together. The truth is, most of us never will. Just do it in your hot mess.
An entire world, and maybe a few deserving superheroes, is waiting on the other end of your action to be BLESSED.