Sadness washes over me as the home video abruptly switches from my cute little girls to me with my game face on, all dolled up in a white denim jacket.
It was 9 years ago in 2007, when video cameras still recorded on tiny tapes. Apparently, I intended to record over this audition, but a remnant remained.
I watch myself deliver carefully rehearsed lines. Eyes directly into the camera, voice projected, body poised. I was auditioning for a non-profit organization that sends motivational speakers to high schools around the country. And the deadline for audition tapes was that day.
Right in the middle of a line, adorable 3-old-year-old Audrey runs to the room, interrupting my soliloquy. The video shows me stop and glare at her, an angry mom look casting dark shadows everywhere.
“Anna’s getting fussy, mom,” her sweet voice rings out.
“What are you doing out here?” I yell at her. “I told you stay in the room. Get back in there and watch your sister. NOW!”
In the space of 5 seconds I watch myself turn from an enthusiastic, classy woman into an ugly witch yelling at her 3-year-old to go back and take care of the baby crying in the exersaucer.
Of course, that wasn’t the first time I yelled, threw a fit, or relied on my toddler to keep an eye on the baby. But it was the first (and last) time I saw myself do it outside the walls of my own head. I wanted to erase the evidence. Pretend it never happened. But for some reason, I didn’t. That clip still exists somewhere in the vast storage device where our electronic family memories reside. I know I’ll stumble upon it one day. Or perhaps one of my girls will find it. What will I say? How will I explain…
I could brush it off.
“Oh, gosh. That must have been a really bad day. Let’s delete that one!”
I could defend myself.
You know…I had recently stopped working to be home full-time. I didn’t know it then, but I likely had postpartum depression, too. We sold our car to make the budget work, and Justin only carpooled a few days per week. Many times, I had no vehicle to leave the house. Money was so tight. I was isolated and desperately trying to find an outlet to make cash and feel like myself again. The deadline for the audition tape was that day, remember? And I DID get the job…
I could give insight.
It was hard for me to be a mom of little ones. I’m highly driven, ultra sensitive, and I need lots of down time to feel my best. I was in over my head, and I had not yet learned the importance of asking for help. It’s not that I didn’t love my babies. Oh, how I have loved them every moment since I learned of their life within me! It was a rough season that I did my best to hide. As a result, the ugly parts spewed out all over the ones I loved the most.
I could be honest.
I’m a messy miracle, darling. I don’t know why I do the things that I do. I make mistakes. I act out of fear. I screw up…badly. But those mess-ups have taught me so much about love and forgiveness and grace. I never would have known how much I value those gifts, how much freedom they give, if I hadn’t needed them desperately. And I do need them desperately.
What if we’re all simply doing the best we can?
I know you can relate to my story. There are things you’ve done that you wish you could take back. Maybe they weren’t played on a computer in front of you, but perhaps they keep playing on the screen of your mind. Your first instinct is probably to defend yourself and place the blame elsewhere. Or do you dismiss and avoid?
What about when other people mess up? Do you revel in it? Does it secretly make you feel better to know you’re not alone? Is your first instinct to judge and assume?
It’s a crazy world we live in, and we’re all part of the crazy. It’s not the way it was designed to be, but it’s the way it is. Until Jesus takes us home or returns, you and I will continue to be part of the mess. But we’re also part of the miracle.
What if the next time you mess up, you choose to confess and ask forgiveness?
What if the next time your unmet expectations cause you frustration, you talk about it openly and honestly, without blame?
What if the next time a friend tells you she doesn’t want to get out of bed, you don’t try to fix her. You simply say, “I understand. What can I do?”
What if the next time you see a mom frustrated with her child, you offer an encouraging word instead of judging and walking by.
Because you understand, after all.
You’re the mess. And you’re the miracle. God works through you in both ways. So let him. Be you and offer grace to others to be themselves, too.