A few weeks ago I ran into a childhood friend. I recognized her as soon as she walked into a Bible study class at church. I hadn't seen her in years and I immediately knew it was her. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to be awkward and say, "Hey! I haven't seen you in at least twenty years and you probably don't remember me...but how are you?" The next week she came to class again. I couldn't resist. I sought her out after class and before I could even say anything she said, "Ok, I know you." Whew! We chatted for a few minutes. We caught up on the whereabouts of parents and siblings and updated each other on spouses and children. Our conversation didn't last long but this is one of the last things she said to me, "I always thought your mom was so sweet. She always seemed to have it all together."
A few years ago we moved to Nashville to work with a church in the area. We are no longer a part of that church body but for the two and a half years we were there I struggled with relationships. I longed for spiritual conversation with other women. I didn't have friends that I could call on a random Friday night and meet for coffee or chat about the frustrations of life. It was a very lonely time. At first I just talked about it to Nate and friends from Louisville. Side note: I made some of the dearest friends in Louisville and I was seeking those relationships in Nashville. It was a definite void. During a small group meeting at church one Sunday night we talked about the importance of relationships within the body. My heart started beating really fast. My palms were sweating. I had to say something. We broke off into smaller groups and I was with two ladies that I knew would hear my heart. Through tears I shared my struggle and one of them said, "Oh my goodness. I had no idea. You seem to have it all together and I thought you didn't need friends." Silence.
So, what does it mean to "have it all together"? I have heard this phrase numerous times since then and it's said with the best intent. It's meant to be a compliment. Someone told me last week that I looked very put together and calm. My response, "Well, that's funny because I definitely don't feel that way." Man, I wish I had it all together...whatever that means! Let's be honest. Nobody has it all together. We are all sinners and struggle with our sinfulness every day. Some might try to appear to have it all together and take it as a compliment when they are told such.
Well, not this girl. It is the worst compliment. I am far from having it all together and don't want to appear that I do. Are people shocked that I have four kids and still shower every day? Or are people amazed at the fact that I like to fix my hair and not look completely disheveled? Does counting to three as your three oldest boys run in opposite directions count as a parent that has it all figured out? Does sleeping with your newborn in the recliner so you don't have to get up when he wakes in the middle of the night count as someone who doesn't need advice from mothers who have been there? I struggle with anger and forgiveness. I am constantly seeking the Lord's forgiveness and asking for patience in dealing with my husband and kids. I need encouragement from other moms who have been in my shoes.
It is the worst compliment. Or is it? Nate and I have talked about it and he knows how much I loathe hearing it. His input, "It could be grace." What? Grace? I love grace. I am thankful for grace. I need grace. How could "having it all together" be grace? Could it be evidence of the Spirit? Could others be seeing a peace that they long for? Let me get this straight. It's not a temporary peace that I feel and experience when bribing my kids to get in the van and buckle before I count to twenty, but the peace that I experience in the mundane day to day trials of life. I feel the perfect peace that only he can give and maybe I am able to show that through my actions...somehow. I don't understand it because I feel like if I were able to see myself from someone else's perspective I would look a hot mess. On most days I feel rushed, unorganized, out of sorts. But those are the days that I feel most dependent on the Lord. Those could be the days that I hear, "You seem to have it all together." It's grace.