When I think of words that characterize my first six months of being married and being a stepmom, several come to mind. Bitterness, depression, hopelessness, anger, resentment…and that is with having an amazing servant-hearted husband and a kind stepdaughter who most days does love me. My husband has had to deal with waking up in the middle of the night to his wife crying, and my sweet stepdaughter has had to endure my lack of patience many days.
However, one word sticks out over the rest: unglamorous. I have heard for years that the Gospel is not glamorous. Anyone in ministry will tell you it’s in those small, faithful moments that no one notices the real work is being done. It’s in the bedtime routines, in listening carefully to what makes them sad and scared, and playing when you REALLY HATE PLAYING. (side note: “playing” feels like I am actually being held hostage)
For the first time in my life, I was given the opportunity to live the gospel every single day in a way that feels so unglamorous it hurts. I am calling it an opportunity now, but it can absolutely feel like a weighty burden. I have been in ministry before, and that was far easier than this everyday life and family I have committed myself to. I have learned on deep levels what it feels like to not repay evil for evil. I have been forced to be an unrecognized parent, one who can’t even legally be called when the child they care for is sick. One who never gets the emails from the school, even if I ordered all the uniforms and got a gift for the teacher. I knew following Jesus was accepting a life of humility, and I am so surprised by how desperate I am to be perceived as a good mom.
I have had to do what God does with us regularly- which is risk myself on a child who is under no biological obligation to love me – so unglamorous.
If you are wondering how I’m doing with living out this unglamorous gospel, the answer is….not all that well. It is a daily struggle where God is continuously breaking me of my ability to be in control and insisting that He is in control. I resist every chance I can. I am also confronted daily by my sin because it is right on display. My critical nature, irritation, insecurity, it’s all there. It’s the kind of refinement that only comes from deep and difficult pain.
It has never been more challenging for me to believe that if I can’t outrun the grace of God, nobody else can either, and I am called to treat people as such.
It has never been more difficult for me to take Communion because I realized that the body was broken and the blood was shed for people who make my life remarkably difficult. The Table reminds us we are all level at the foot of the cross, something I have always believed in words but never really had to believe in action.
It has never been more difficult for me to consider others better than myself when all I want to do is self-protect.
Our God is the God of the unglamorous, the unseen and the forgotten. When we are forced to live this way- it is an invitation to experience Him more fully. It is an invitation to listen to Him whisper, “I see you, and I am so pleased with you.”
He says He is enough. Let’s believe Him.