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Art and Grace

Art and Grace

No, this is not the title of a new sitcom (maybe that’ll be my breakout gig).

You know the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”?

What about: Beauty is in the heart of the Creator.

What if beauty were no longer subjective to personal perspective?

I recently gave birth to my third child via a third c-section. It’s been a longer recovery with complications this time around, and that alone is a struggle. But I’ve been able to enjoy 3 months home with my children as I heal and bond with our new baby.

… did I say enjoy? It’s been hard. It’s been, at times, ugly. My children’s world has been upended, and it’s about to be upended again. There is no routine, they all want me holding them and watching them do ANOTHER cartwheel (“tartwhee-o” as my 3-year-old says), watch endless dinosaur shows and Daniel Tiger, babies are needy, and everyone ultimately gets on everyone’s nerves. Yet each night, as I snuggle my baby to sleep, I thank God for each of my children, for each precious hair on their head, for their delight in my love and attention, their curious nature, their inquisitive spirit.

Make no mistake, there are definitely days when it’s all so much I want to run and hide. My attitude is ugly, their attitudes are ugly, I lose my cool too quickly, I am edgy and reactive. This thing called motherhood leaves me feeling inadequate and ill-equipped. I believe that I am not enough for my children.

The enemy would have us believe that we are failing. He would have us believe we are not giving enough to our children, so we give more, but what about our spouse? So we try to give more, but shouldn’t we contribute to the household? So we work, but how could we leave our children to the care of another? Or we clean more, but why aren’t we spending more time making memories with our children? The enemy loves this thought cycle. We become so busy trying to be all things to all people that we’re too busy to lean on God. We get distracted chasing the impossible “enough” that we forget about grace. Grace means we don’t have to be enough. We CAN’T be enough in our own strength, and that’s ok because Jesus is enough.

Parenting is art in motion. It is utter chaos, the characters are constantly changing (especially when they need a snack or skip naptime), the dialogue is spotty, someone drew on the scenery with a marker you swear you put up too high to reach, and there’s an unidentified smell that’s been lingering for awhile. But you look around and everyone’s smiling at your chaos, reminiscing about their own, maybe finding solidarity, or aching to know your world. Parenting connects us all on an emotional level, revealing a rawness that can be overlooked when we focus on our misgivings.

Even Esther had to see that God had placed her exactly where she was supposed to be. Her divine appointment spared her and her people. Esther was exactly who was needed at exactly the right time and place. What if she was having a bad week and felt like a fraud, so she ignored her calling and binge-watched her favorite show instead? Thankfully, she had someone to remind her of who she was. She had to put aside all her misgivings and trust that God would bring deliverance.

God has made everything beautiful in its time (Ecc. 3:11). Even the hard days. Even the ugly days. Even the tear-soaked, fist-shaking-at-the-sky days. Those days are when we are weakest, when the enemy can easily convince us we’re worthless, but grace redeems us. Grace tells us Jesus was enough on the cross, that we are beautiful and loved outside our circumstances.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Grace is a gift. It’s a gift of forgiveness for yelling, for cutting someone off, for snapping at our partner. Each moment is God’s handiwork, our lives His canvas, and even the ugly is made beautiful. I may feel inadequate, but I am God’s handiwork, the perfect partner for my spouse, the perfect mother for my children, created for such a time as this.

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