When songwriters are trying to figure something out, they often write a song about it. The song I wrote was called “I Can Just Be Me.” The lyrics begin with me trying to do everything but not measuring up. Then in the chorus I ask God to be everything that I can’t be.
I’ve been doing all that I can
To hold it all together
Piece by piece.
I’ve been feeling like a failure,
Trying to be braver
Than I could ever be.
It’s just not me.
So be my healer, be my comfort, be my peace.
Cause I can be broken, I can be needy,
Lord I need you now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.
So be my father, my mighty warrior, be my king.
Cause I can be scattered, frail and shattered,
Lord I need you now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.
And be my savior, be my lifeline, won’t you be my everything.
Cause I’m so tired of trying to be someone.
I was never meant to be.
Be my God.
Please be my God.
Be my God.
So I can just be me.
So I can just be me.
I can just be me.
And as I worked through the ideas behind the song, I realized that when we’re living in brokenness we can sometimes feel as though we’re less than or not good enough. Sometimes that leads us to trying harder. Often it leads to us failing further. But we have to give up that idea and settle into who God created us to be.
Looking in the mirror that morning, it was clear I wouldn’t win a Best Mom trophy, but that was okay. I was finally able to embrace the fact that I am a working mom whose daughter might climb more catwalks in an arena than trees on a playground. She’ll start trends by wearing her pjs to church and blowing kisses (though they might be bloody) to her audience. But she’ll also know that there was a Man who shed His blood for her when He died on a cross. And she’ll never think of church as a place we go, but something we do wherever we are.
Mine is motherhood redefined with God at the center rather than my achievements at the center. But it is a center that is always in flux. Just when we started to get good at being Josie’s parents, our little family of three added two more. On September 18, 2014, we welcomed Josie’s new little brothers, Benjamin Cary and Griffin James, who doubled not only the joy in our house but also the chaos. Their birth was a reminder to me that good and beautiful things can come from pain. My labor was roughly eight hours long, and I said Jesus’ name a lot — not in vain, but in pain. Of course, I would go through every minute of the pregnancy and the delivery over and over again to have such precious boys. The temporary pain I endured was worth it. When we see the results of my pain in the faces of my children, I would do it all over again. But think about the birth from the twins’ perspective. When the boys first entered this world, they left the security and warmth of the womb to be violently faced with the bright lights and cold air of the hospital delivery room. They could only cry, but if they could have talked, I imagine they would have said something like, “What did you do that for? We wanted to stay where we were, warm and happy!”
I wonder how many times I’ve said that to God?
When we are on the receiving end of pain and can’t yet see or understand why we’re in such trials, we can find it so hard to trust. But as imperfect mothers and fathers, we often inflict pain on our children for their own good. Whether it is birthing them, giving them their immunization shots, or putting them into time-out so they don’t touch a hot stove, we could be seen as the source of their pain, even though we’re only doing what is best for them.
So how much more must God, our perfect Father, be doing for us when we’re experiencing pain? Like any good parent, God fully understands the pain we feel, and He is with us in it, but He allows us to go through it because He has a greater good in mind.
Can we trust Him in that? It’s hard, I know. But that’s also why we place our hope in Him. Our hope is that one day the pain will end and we’ll live with Him in a pain-free eternity, where there is no more brokenness and we are all made whole.
I know there are days in the midst of our brokenness and our trials, when it is so hard to cling to that idea. It feels as though it takes more faith to believe it than we have. Fortunately, God doesn’t even demand supersized faith from us. In fact, Jesus says all we need is faith the size of a seed — a mustard seed — smaller than many of the spices in your cabinet. A seed so small it gets lost under a fingernail or stuck in the fold of our palm. That’s all we need in order to do what seems impossible.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. — Matthew 17:20
Faith that small. Because God is that big. I cling to that thought both as a mother and as a wife. The older I get the more I realize there are few seasons of life that can be labeled “good” or “bad.” Right now, I am in a really sweet season of life. Whatever season Martin and I face, whatever new blessings we face, we find new things that rub up against Martin’s disabilities and new mourning takes place. The good news is that our mourning often takes place, humorously, in the midst of baby projectile poop, while I am trying to feed the same twin twice because one of us forgot which twin was already fed. (And once again, that “one” is me, not Martin.)
Our life looks much like the life of any set of parents with a newborn baby. Except that we have two babies.
And a two-year-old. And a husband with a disability.
Okay, so, it probably doesn’t look anything like anyone else’s life. It probably looks a lot funnier. But that’s okay, because it’s not about us. If you knocked on my door right now and asked to use the bathroom, you’d likely find there is no soap at the sink and the hand towel is actually a dishrag. The good towels are starting to mildew in the basement in a pile of laundry I have labeled “not yet urgent.”
Our dinner menu ranges from “What menu?” to “takeout.” When someone wants a snack, I try to give them something healthy. “You can eat the Cheerios under the couch, but not the cheese; it’s getting old.”
The weekend before our Christmas production at Perimeter, I was at the church on Sunday for fourteen hours straight. Josie was with me. When I was onstage, she was holding my hand the entire time. Some might find that annoying, but I think it is precious memories in the making. That’s just what our life looks like.
We were both exhausted by the time we finally left that evening! As soon as we got home and I started feeding the twins, to show her appreciation and contribute to the memories of the day, Josie vomited. That meant another trip out to get Pedialyte and more prayers that no one else in the house would get whatever bug she picked up.
What can you do in a situation like that? You can cry or you can laugh. I choose to laugh and think it could be worse. In a few more years, I’ll still be doing the Christmas production, I’ll be older and more exhausted afterward, and at that time, I could be bringing home three vomiting kids!
As you’ve read my story and compared yours to mine, maybe your story is harder or maybe it’s easier. But whatever it is, I encourage you to cling to Scripture because that and laughter is what will get you through.
I know people look at our Elvington family and say, “What a mess!” And I’d agree. But despite our brokenness, despite the trials we have endured and will continue to fight through, despite the days when our faith is low, and our patience is lower, we are blessed.
We are blessed by a God who loves us and will never leave us.
We are blessed with the gift of his grace that allows us to spend eternity with him in a place free of trials and free of brokenness.
We are blessed because we have a loving family who gets to serve our great, big God every single day. Whether we are at home or on the road, for us, life is an abundantly beautiful, blessed mess. Despite our brokenness, we wouldn’t want it any other way, for it is through our brokenness that God is the hero of our story.
We’re all just a phone call away. And when we get that unexpected phone call, we think life as we know it is over. But life as we’ve yet to know it and how God might use it has just begun.
Share your story. Give God the glory. And live a better broken.
Excerpted with permission from When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story, copyright Laura Story Elvington.
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Is your story messy? Even in the middle of the Christmas season, or maybe especially in this season, our stories can be used to help and uplift others going through the same things. And, God gets the glory! Share it! And, come share your story with us, too. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily