Thriving Amid the Messes of Motherhood

Being a mother means facing one mess after another. There are poopy diapers, floors covered in toys, appliances covered in greasy handprints, backseats strewn with snack crumbs, and bedsheets soiled with vomit. When I work to get one of these messes cleaned up, you can be certain my kids are busy making the others!

Being a mother means facing one mess after another. Thankfully, we don’t have to shrink back from these—we can thrive amid them!

Literal messes are only the beginning. Mothers face a number of figurative messes, too. There are the mommy wars, struggles to remain patient, internal debates about whether or not we’re making the right choices, anxiety, and mom guilt. These seem as inescapable as the literal messes!

In moments of self-doubt induced by sleep deprivation, I sometimes worry that these messes signify my insufficiency as a mother and that they may prevent my children from reaching their full potential. As I prayed about this a few days ago, I realized that this isn’t the case. In fact, we’re in good company: Jesus lived and served amid messes.

Jesus was born in a stable (Luke 2:1-7). Think about it. There was dirt. There were animals (with their excrement) and it’s likely there were insects and vermin. It wasn’t clean. Then, at the start of his ministry, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17). That water wasn’t pristine. There were likely fish in the water and people may have washed their clothes—or themselves—upstream. Jesus even got his hands messy in mud! He spat on the ground and made mud that he used to heal a man’s eyes (John 9:6-7).

Jesus reached out and touched lepers—people who were so “unclean” that they were literally ostracized from society—in order to heal them (Matthew 8:1-3). He defended a woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Residents of his hometown took offense at him (Matthew 13:53-58). One of his closest followers denied knowing him and another follower betrayed him into the hands of those who wished to kill him (Matthew 26:47-49 and 69-75). He was spat upon, beaten, and crucified (Matthew 27:32-50). These are as messy as situations get!

So you see, mamas, we don’t have to shrink back from messes. We don’t have to be embarrassed by them or unduly troubled by them. Like Jesus, we can thrive amid them. The messes he faced didn’t mean that Jesus was insufficient in his role and they don’t mean we are insufficient in ours. They are simply part of life in our present, imperfect world. They didn’t prevent Jesus from accomplishing the work set before him, nor do they have to prevent us from completing the work set before us. God is sovereign over the messes.

“…so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.” Isaiah 45:6-7

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

As I look at all of the messes around me, I’m encouraged by this reminder.

Do you face a lot of messes? How do you remind yourself that God is sovereign over them and that He is working through you despite them?

Shared at the following:

The Art of Home-Making, Tuesday Talk, Word Filled Wednesday, Grace and Truth, and Moments of Hope.

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Comments

  1. We do need this godly perspective as mums, because the messed don’t end as the kids get older. May we hold close your reminder that God has a much bigger purpose for what’s going on in our home than a spotless house! We’re shaping lives and training hearts for God!

  2. This so reminded me of those days when I thought the messes defined me. Now in hindsight, I am realizing – it was in the midst of the mess that God did His finest work 🙂

    • Wow, Joanne, what a powerful statement–that it was in the midst of the mess that God did His finest work. May this be true in my home, too.

  3. Charlotte Thiel says:

    I am past those days but I want to tell you that I think this is a terrific article! Young mother’s need the affirmation that the most important thing they are doing isn’t caring for houses but caring for hearts. It is a wonderful reminder to us when we read the incidents when Jesus didn’t experience everything neat and tidy in order to do things His way. I had to smile reading this because I could hear my granddaughter saying”made a mess” and know it was ok, her momma loves her anyway!

    • The messes are unrelenting, but we moms do love our kiddos anyway. 🙂
      I like how you said that the most important thing isn’t caring for homes but for hearts. This is something I need to repeat to myself when I feel frustrated about having a messy house.

  4. Thank God I’m pass the literal messy days of motherhood but I’m never done with the figurative messes. Thank God I don’t have to wallow in the mess; I can give it to Him and he provides the grace, strength and wisdom I need to get through.
    I appreciated this article as it brought back (good) memories.

    • Hi Nylse,
      I’m choosing not to wallow in the mess but to trust God and accept the grace, strength, and wisdom He gives. I hope, like you, I will look back on these days with good memories.

  5. Ah, yes, the mess! Constant! I’m reminded of that verse in Proverbs, “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” Sometimes I wish I could just have a clean stable, but I need grace to remember the bigger picture. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Thank you for this! I needed the reminder. Thank you for stopping by and linking up with Woman to Woman Ministries. God bless.

  7. What a fabulous reminder that even though motherhood is messy, with God’s help we can thrive, like Jesus among the mess and chaos! May I live to serve like Him and love freely despite the condition of my home and heart. Thank you for sharing this with the Grace & Truth linkup! Your wisdom is my chosen feature for this on Faith Along the Way!

  8. This is a great reminder that I can glorify God in the messes I deal with every day! When I want to be impatient and frustrated, I can ask for His help to see the blessings in the midst of the mess.

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