Hope, Encouragement, Love for the Imperfect

Do you have to find a hiding place in your home? Or at least a place where occasionally you can have a few minutes by yourself to ponder life? This has become my new place to work, escape, hide--hoping that maybe no one will make the extra effort to climb the stairs to our second floor to find me. We all need some alone time. This was Sarah's bedroom until she moved to Oxford full time,  when she married Thomas. There is something about being here in the place where we spent so many wonderful hours as friends that feels like sweet memories still linger. But she took one of her bunny statues back to her home with Thomas, and so I found a new one on half-price at a little nook store.

"It has a little crack," said the clerk, "so I will sell it to you at half price!"

Then I knew is was to be mine!

Somehow his little crack along his neck makes me feel like we are friends. I have a passionate heart. I want to be good, always loving, faithful, patient, unselfish. But then there is the crack and flaws in my life, you see, that make me just the slightest bit wonky. I have hidden imperfections, too. 

One of my adult children told me over the holidays, "You know what, mama? Sometimes when I awaken in the mornings the first thing that hovers over my mind like a cloud is this unspecific feeling that i have disappointed someone or that I have failed at something. it's just there under the surface."

I so sympathized with this statement. Many of us carry the burden on our backs of weariness and a sense of inadequacy. Sometimes we carry difficult marriages, past scars, tension of hard relationships that will never end, financial burdens, guilt for our failures.

Lately, I have received various notes and comments from women all over the world who are weary or sad or losing hope.

Just this week, in my quiet time, I was drawn to the sermon on the mount. As I read His words in Matt. 6, I was so gently touched by the kind, merciful heart of Christ. In a world where the Pharisees were measuring spirituality by external performance, getting it all right--saying right prayers, giving the right offerings, I remembered what Jesus had said about them, "They tie up heavy, burdensome loads and lay on men's shoulders, they they themselves are not willing to life a finger to help them. All their deeds are done for men to see. 

Our world does so often focus on the external behavior.

But when I read the words of Jesus, I find hope for my imperfections, my failures, my crazy personality. 

I was imagining what it was like: Crowds were gathering as Jesus climbed to the top of a mountain to teach. Women holding crying babes were struggling to get their children settled. Men with scowling faces amongst the crowd with looks of defeat, spouses glancing with hurt feelings, cripples, teens smiling, giggling and flirting with  friends they had known their whole life, children running playing tag--a whole host of people from the slice of life were gathering to hear this man speak to them. Jesus was looking inside their hearts to prepare to teach about what these who were gathering needed to hear so that they would truly understand God better.

His message was one of comfort, sympathy for the pressures they were feeling, the tension stored up in their hearts. Jesus gave a message they longed to hear but didn't even know they needed it until He spoke.

3 [b]Blessed are the [c]poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the [d]gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These are what we need in our own lives: mercy, comfort, justice, understanding, truth, peace, forgiveness, a right relationship with God. 

And so, for those of us who feel the burdens that a fallen, broken world brings, Jesus offers us love, kindness and understanding. 

As I wrote the book Different with Nathan, I realized all over again, that in the places I felt alone, different from others, alienated by my feelings of sadness, aloneness or failure from those around me, He was there loving me, reaching out as my loving Father, feeling compassion for me in every moment.

The unconditional love of Christ means more each day.

 He sees us with compassion, he loves us as we are, he speaks to us with encouragement, he offers us hope,

He extends His help because He is the Father who loves us. His love changes everything. It is as we offer to others who feel imperfect the unconditional love of God, that their lives will be transformed. 

And it is His love, through us, that will transform the lives of our children.

God, we believe you live in our home. Do a miracle with our small, imperfect work of parenting our children the best we can. Please prepare them to be yours for your kingdom work. We know that you will do exceedingly above what we ask or think, because you are capable of engaging generously in our lives. Please be the life, the light, the wisdom in our homes, and give us the strength to be faithful. Sally Clarkson, Different: The Story of an Outside the Box Boy and the Mama who Loved Him

Be sure to join me on facebook live, Tuesday, 7:00 mountain time, for a short time of sharing. Ask questions below if you want me to talk about something specific. We shall have fun.