I used to want people to think I did. I remember after the twins were born I took extra time and care to be sure I looked "presentable" before going anywhere. I even spent more time on myself that pre-kids. I didn't want to be in the grocery store and someone to think, "Whoa! Childbirth/Motherhood has NOT been kind to her." I used to make sure every hair was in place and my kids looked like they were out of a Norman Rockwell painting before church. But as with most families that I know, Sunday mornings were usually the times when our family was MOST at each other's throats and when we so did not have it together. Prior to my illness I made sure I painted the perfect picture of my life. I didn't want anyone to think that I had flaws or problems.
I get stopped by a lot of people when I'm out walking my dog. People usually say, "Is that a Weimeranian, I mean a Weimer-something?" They mean a weimaraner. And I say, "No, he's a Catahoula Cur" and they say, "But he looks just like a weimaraner; he's beautiful." And I usually thank them, agree and keep walking. He does look just like a weimaraner. I actually wanted a weimaraner because they are so pretty. I don't know if a weimaranar is calmer than a Cur but sometimes I wish my little maniac Cur was a weimaraner! As I walked him one day this week it hit home... Gator looks just like something he's not. See what you think:
Gator (Catahoula Cur)
Gator made me start thinking about how I am perceived. Do I look like something I'm not? I think I finally realize that being imperfect is completely normal - it's the truth, it's real. One day I told a friend that I was God's Beautiful Mess. I am a mess - every day. I get mad at my husband and kids. I am stubborn and opinionated. I say things I shouldn't. I judge people unfairly. I am disobedient to God. And I want to be sure when I write that I am being totally real. Not just writing a story or lesson, but truly painting an accurate picture of who I am, imperfections and all.
This week I started a study about King David. I love the paradox of David. He's a poet/musician and a warrior. He's a shepherd and a king. He's a sinner and a saint. I feel so erratic these days with my emotions. It's comforting to open the book of Psalms and see that David, a man after God's own heart, was also extremely erratic with his thoughts, feelings and spiritual struggles. I had a big day yesterday. And I don't feel well today. I went walking this morning to try and shake the cobwebs. I told God, "I am mad at you. Why can't I go to church with my family? Why not give me every Sunday to feel good and not have to watch my family drive off to church without me? Is one day a week too much to ask God? But God, I know you have a purpose. I know you are using this time. I believe in Isaiah 55:8-9 and Jeremiah 29:11. I'm sorry God, I do trust you. I just want to feel better. I'm sick of being sick!" And after that little episode I thought, I am crazy... my thoughts don't even flow or make sense. But then I realized, they make sense to God; I am his beautiful mess!
In 1 Samuel 16 God told Samuel to go and anoint King Saul's successor on the throne of Israel. God had had it with Saul and He was going to replace him. God sent Samuel to a man named Jesse; God intended to select one of Jesse's sons to replace Saul. When Samuel arrived, he saw Jesse's oldest son Eliab, who must have looked "king-ly". Samuel was ready to anoint Eliab and move on...
But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." ---1 Samuel 16:7
God's not interested in whether I look like a Weimaranar or a Catahoula Cur. He cares about what's in my bloodline. And I surely cannot hide from him that I'm imperfect. He knows I try and I want to be more Christlike, but He also sees me fail every single day. And if I try to hide that from others I'm a hypocrite. No matter what's going on - sickness, stress, kid problems, marriage problems, big decisions. I think the goal for anyone is to be the same person inside and out. My friend was telling me last night that our college ministry at church has a shirt that says, "It's OK not to be OK." When I first heard it, I thought, "that's a stupid thing for a shirt to say." But the more I thought, I realized that's exactly what God is saying to me. It is OK not to be OK. Nobody is OK all of the time! If they tell you they are or act like they are, they are lying.
It seems harder and harder these days too. I have been looking for some new face soap. Good grief! There are ones to keep you young, to hydrate, to control shine, to slough dead skins cells, to rejuvenate, to prevent wrinkles, to erase dark circles. No wonder we're so concerned with appearances. I want you to know I have cellulite, wrinkles and gray hair. I'll be 40 next month (UGH!) so that probably goes without saying. Granted, I am not about to let myself completely go... but I have found freedom in knowing that I am God's beautiful mess and that is really all that matters. It's liberating to know that I can be me. I am more comfortable now with myself - admitting my weaknesses and deficiencies than I have been in a long time. I'm no where near finished or perfect, but I am so thankful that God stripped away some of my pride through this illness. It's much harder to try and keep up appearances. It takes a lot of work and effort. A friend told me she was coming to see me this week. I was having a good day but I needed a rest before she got there. I did not care one tiny bit that it looked like a bomb had gone off in my home. She sure didn't care. My house wasn't filthy, it just wasn't tidy. But the point is, it did not matter. A year ago I would have gone nuts trying to pick up everything before she arrived - had to make everything SEEM perfect.
I pray that I will check my pride at the door every single time I write. Please give God glory anytime you read anything from me. Because if I have been able to write it, that's a blessing. It means that I have fought through the beautiful mess yet again so that He could give me the words and ability.
Jonathan and I are heading to Mayo in less than THREE WEEKS! I can't believe it's getting so close. I am nervous and excited. I have never been away from my kids this long - EVER. I have great friends and family to care for them and I am blessed for that. Our accommodations have been made. All my paperwork is there. Just waiting. I'll write more about the actual appointments I have when time gets closer. And I'll be writing from Minnesota with updates as we go. (It was 37 degrees there this morning!) God is working tremendously in my heart to prepare me for anything. Anywhere from "keep doing what you're doing, because there's nothing more we can do" all the way to "we have to do brain surgery." I wrote over 5 months ago that I was not going to proceed with brain surgery at that time but was going to try rehab. I have been faithful with rehab since then. It hasn't been the easiest road but I have mostly had peace that it was the right road. Please pray that God will keep my heart open and give me complete peace about the options that we are given. Much love and thanks for ALL of the support you give!
Last photos (just because you may need a smile):