“Mama, my swimsuit is in the sink, and I need to spit out my toothpaste!” the five-year-old called from the top of the stairs.
I stomped back into the bathroom, not making eye contact with any of them, pulled out the new pink suit covered in dirt. It dripped as I threw it, soggy and soapy, into the tub.
“Look at all the pink dye in the sink!” another called.
Michael stepped in, and I rushed out the door to the grocery store, felt the press of this sister mess, this parent-child mess, the way I’d nearly taken my hand to her in anger for how she’d hurt her sister.
I small-talked with the cashier I’d seen earlier when the girls and I bought lettuce, kale and popsicles. I placed the drinks and laundry detergent on the conveyor.
“This is the beer and toilet paper part of the evening,” she smiled. “Necessities.”
I got back in Michael’s car, listened in on the talk radio station, thought about making a call to my sister. My phone’s battery was at 5%, so I headed home instead.
I pulled up in front of our house, turned off the men talking and laughing and let my heart feel the weight again. From the driver’s seat, I opened my mouth not knowing what would fall out.
“I’m such a mess without You, Jesus,” I cried.
“I’m such a mess with you,” I thought.
And isn’t that just what this Jesus promises?
Not quick fix. Not magic wand.
But that He will be beauty in the mess of me. Will be strength in my weakness. Will be protector, equipper and lifter of all weary heads.
When I yelled ragefully at my daughter just moments ago, it was Jesus who held my hands and shut my mouth when I readied to threaten her.
It was my Jesus who met me on the couch when I returned home and cried about that horrid moment when I saw what I was capable of perpetrating in anger, the sorrow I felt about harm I could have done after years of the same frustrations with her and no sense made.
This is my Jesus who hears and sees and forgives when I call, who promises to give mercies in the middle of this mess, who pours them out. And they fall fresh on this mama and these children with the new hope of morning.
Thank you for reading this with grace. It’s the story no mother really wants to tell. Last night, I pulled up Lisa-Jo’s prompt, MESS, and began to wonder what I’d write about today. And then this incident. Ugh, it broke my heart. There’s great joy happening in our days, new awareness and solidifying hope, but always, too, the mess. For these seeming dichotomies of life — good-bad, joyful-sorrowful, tender-tough, scared-brave — so rarely do they happen as either-ors. All this life soaks in the sink and leaves its marks and the drips mingle everywhere.