"You have God's attention."
The words I desperately needed to hear yesterday morning. The words I had no idea how deeply I was missing until they hit my soul like water in the midst of a desert. I realize these words may sound self-focused on their own, but in the midst of a glorious gospel message they were just the opposite. Through a message largely focused on mission, missional communities, and the state of our church body, God used the words of our dear friend and pastor to take my selfish and defeated heart and turn it toward the blessed freedom of Jesus Christ. Beyond the message itself, which I also gained much from, God wanted me to hear the most basic truth of what Jesus did on my behalf, and of how much He truly loves me. Me! I have been reminding myself of just that over the last few weeks, but "reminding" and "believing" can be more distant cousins than blood brothers sometimes.
In this first month of becoming a mama to two, I have experienced both more blessing and more difficulty than I anticipated. I knew I would somehow make room in my heart for a second sweet babe (a feat that seems almost impossible when your heart is already so full of love for just one!), and I also expected challenging moments. I expected tired and worn-out. I didn't so much expect that after the first few weeks of visitors, meal deliveries, and adrenaline wore off I would feel like I'd been hit by a train of emotions (with a very hormonal conductor, might I add). I suppose the beauty of bearing a child is that you quickly forget much of the early hardship as life gives way to a sweet little person blossoming before your eyes. You remember labor and delivery, but somehow when it comes around again you remember in a very vivid way (oh, hello again contractions). You remember being tired, but when you're sitting on the floor in the middle of the night with tears pouring down your face because you are justsofreakingexhausted, you suddenly remember just how tired you were the first time. You remember feeling unsure and confused about this whole parenting thing, but you don't remember questioning everything you've ever known until it happens again.
Can we do this? Are we going to damage them irreparably? What should I teach them? Do I remember anything I learned at that age? How did I even pass kindergarten? Am I really going to start doing concerts again in a few weeks? Do I even remember any of my own songs? Will I ever sleep again? When was the last time I showered? Why is my two year old so suspiciously quiet? Why is there so much pooping and crying happening in this house? For the love of all that is good where are all the pacifiers!?
The list goes on. The lack of sleep continues. Your two year old gets 4 spankings before you even get out of her bedroom some mornings and your infant wants nothing more than to be held at every second that day. Life‑even a beautiful, comfortable, healthful life‑can be hard. It can be so hard! And here I am trying just as hard to fix it. Here I am wanting, willing myself to be a better mom and a better wife. Not to mention that I have a stack of thank-you notes to finish and missed wishing a best friend "Happy Birthday" until two days after the fact. It's so, so easy to think we should work for it. That we should earn it. That if we could "white-knuckle it" (thanks for that visual, Pastor Jacob) it will all work out in the end and we'll get God's attention, that we'll earn His love.
Please, please hear this: You have God's attention. You do. You already have it. If you have said "yes" to Jesus and His sacrifice for you, you are His. So when He looks at you, the selfish mom who is feeling like a failure at 3am (or whoever you happen to be), He doesn't see the selfish doubter. He sees Jesus! He loves you as He loves his very son. The messy track record you've left behind is replaced with that of our perfect, spotless Jesus. God regards you as He regards Jesus Christ, that is, perfect. (I'll be honest, I sort of picture God handing out perfect records with Oprah-style enthusiasm here. YOU get a perfect record! YOU get a perfect record!)
As I was so lovingly reminded yesterday, that is no license to sin, and it doesn't mean God cares not for who we are in this life. Yet, if we truly understand the goodness of the gospel, that is all the motivation we need to ask God for the strength to do it better the next time. And the next. And, the next...
So whoever you are, whatever plagues you with doubt, fear, and the nagging feeling you're not doing enough, you're right. You're not, you can't and you won't, and you don't have to. Jesus already has, and you already have God's attention.