Every Sunday I imagine our morning routine going something like this:
I awake to the smell of coffee. My husband is already up and has prepared my cup exactly to my preference. I don’t need the alarm because I wake cheerfully to the soft sounds of sweet baby coos coming from the bassinet beside me. I have time to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee and consume an egg white omelet with loads of veggies that were grilled the previous Sunday during my afternoon meal prep for the week. My family eats together as we do our family devotions over breakfast.
My kids don’t need to be reminded to put on the clothes that I ironed the night before. They comb their own hair and brush their teeth without being asked. They even wipe down the sink and clean the countertops…and they succumb to the sudden urge to scrub the toilet as well.
Worship music is playing throughout the house while the kids look over their memory verses in the living room. I have plenty of time to shower, dress, fix my hair and put on my makeup before the baby needs to be fed. Then we all file calmly and peacefully into the van. More worship music is playing in the car. The sun is shining. The kids are happy. I feel relaxed.
We arrive on time. I am well prepared for the solo I am scheduled to sing. My kids go to their classes without complaining. The baby is cooperative and happy. I sing miraculously and I feel pleased with my appearance, my accomplishment and my overall demeanor. I leave feeling blessed and fulfilled because I gave a perfect performance and everything fell precisely into place.
But if I’m honest, most Sundays are a disaster and I marvel at the fact that we even make it to church at all. They usually look more like this:
I wake to the alarm and a crying baby. I try to eat something healthy but Lucky Charms sound better. I shovel the sugary cereal into my mouth with the smell of a freshly filled diaper wafting from the fussy infant in my lap.
I rush to put on makeup, desperately trying to cover up dark circles and wrinkles. I suddenly notice that my sleeve is covered in baby vomit. My clothes will have to be changed but I can’t think of another thing I own that fits and is clean. I comb my 9-year-old’s hair and try not to let my frustration spill out in the way I speak to her. I fail and feel guilty for the rest of the morning.
The screaming baby disrupts my already strenuous schedule. I stop to feed her again even though we should be leaving in 5 minutes and my hair still looks like a yeti that got ahold of a hairdryer. I try on three shirts only to discover that they are all too small because of the extra 15 lbs of baby weight I still have taunting me around my middle. I start to cry but realize I don’t have time for that so I grab the least tight shirt and head out the door with it still unbuttoned.
On our way to church I discover that my shirt is definitely not going to stay buttoned and I finally let myself cry about it…but not too much because I don’t want my mascara to run. I shimmy into the pair of Spanx that I had peeled off on the way home from church the week before, praying that the people in the car next to me have their own Sunday morning crisis to worry about so their eyes aren’t drawn to my disastrous scene.
I’m supposed to sing a solo but I’m running late for practice. The tight ball of thoughts I had been winding all morning begins to unravel…”should I feed the baby before or after practice?”…”will I have enough time to work on my song?”…”I look like a mess!”….”wait, doesn’t my husband have to give announcements this morning?…how is that going to work out?”…”did my son remember to put on underwear?”
The morning speeds along like a cut-rate circus…fumbling, off-balance, poorly trained, unprepared. As I step on stage to sing, I can’t remember the words to the first verse. My voice in the ear piece is too loud and it’s shaky and off-key. I can’t hear the piano. I want to sound good…no I want to sound perfect. I want to get every entrance and every word and every note exactly right …but all that enters my mind is “I can’t”!
And even as I sing it doesn’t sound right in my head. I close my eyes and raise my hands and pray that God uses my Spanx wearing, crazy hair, shaking voice- self to reach people who need to hear the words I am singing. It’s in that moment that I know I can’t, but He can…and I step back and let Him. I no longer tell myself that I have to get it right but only that I have to give Him the glory. And the cracks in my perfection begin to feel like the perfect place for God to shine through. In the midst of my inadequacy the audience rises to their feet and I know without a doubt that it’s not me that is stirring them to move…it’s not my skill or my accomplishment because in that moment I have nothing to offer…it’s God showing His strength through my weaknesses.
I realize on the drive home that I wouldn’t trade my mess for the perfection of a properly synced Sunday morning. I wouldn’t hand over the feeling of completely falling apart in order to receive a life that seems to perpetually fall into place. I wouldn’t trade in the overwhelming defeat and the lack of control that I experience on a daily basis because every faulty step along the way reminds me that I have a Savior who is stronger than me. When my weaknesses overtake me and all I can do is cry in desperation, “I can’t”…His response to me is “But I can”. And He will do it much better than I ever could on my own. If I could do it all by myself, I would miss the chance to see God work in my mess…I would keep moving forward and never seek to grasp His mighty hand.
If everything was perfect, if I always got it just right, I would be deceived into thinking that I am in control. If I could take care of it all and I always felt like I was doing my best work then I would be missing the chance to see God do it better. In the end, I would take every blunder, every fault, every mistake because every single time I mess up I can be reminded that I may not have it all together, but He does.
So, I don’t need the perfect Sunday routine. I think I’ll hold on to my mess…it seems to be working for me.