Shortly after Titus was born, I got an email invitation to a baby shower that I couldn't attend. It was for an old manager I had working my four month stint in retail. It was a short lived job, as I spent more money on pretty clothes than to save it for real life big girl needs, like food and grad school and all that jazz.
When I received the invitation, the guilt washed over me again. Shortly after I had begun working there, I cut my hair short. That manager asked me if I had donated my hair to Locks of Love. I had not. I said I did. I lied.
I justified that lie in all kinds of ways in my head. I had, on previous occasions donated. I wanted to be a good testimony of Christ to her, and that seemed like the right answer to do that. I was so ashamed because the thought hadn't even crossed my mind to donate this time. And then I was double ashamed because I lied and told her I had. After I quit, I avoided the store at all cost. I didn't want to be reminded of my guilt.
Fast forward five years. To a new heart. An oatmeal heart, softened to God's molding. God had shown me that I could do hard things for his glory, that I could give up my body and give up my sleep and give up my pride to take care of another human being. And how serving my son in those hard ways introduced me to all the ways Jesus had sacrificed himself for me, even unto death.
Could I not sacrifice this one person's opinion of me, to tell her the truth after all these years, to tell her that I lied, to explain that God showed me my need of him? Could I not share with her what motherhood had taught me about God's love for me, despite my sin and ugliness? Who knows, maybe my story would introduce her to her own need of a Savior? Wasn't her salvation worth a few minutes of my own emotional discomfort?
So I wrote her a letter. I wrote her the truth. I bought her son an outfit from the BABY GAP. Yeah, I was still kinda trying to get her to like me, even in the projected vision of my confession. The name brand baby clothes would make her forgive me, right? Would win her to Christ? Would make her see His beauty instead of my mess? I put the gift and the letter together and planned to deliver each in person.
I walked into the store with my stroller, so I could grip something solid with my sweaty palms. She wasn't there. When I asked about her, they told me she quit. I don't even know her last name. I have no way of contacting her. I left that place so confused. God, why did you not allow this weight off my heart? Why did you not allow me to confess my guilt to her? What is the reason for this whole charade? And what do I do with this overpriced onesie?
I reviewed the story of David this past week. He was a man after God's own heart, yet he sinned so grievously. David wrote Psalm 51 right after he messed up really bad. He committed adultery, got Bathsheba pregnant and sent her hubby off to be killed on the front lines. He felt the weight of his sin, grieved, and repented. That is when he wrote this...
You see, I don't think God cares so much about my sacrifices, about my pride, about my body, about laying down others opinion of me, even. I think God cares that my heart is willing.
There is but one sacrifice that really mattered. His name was Jesus. And he was willing, enough to die. And for my good, sometimes God calls me to do hard things, to make me more like Christ, to clean out my heart.
Recently, two close friends in my house church went through a strange experience with foster care. In both cases, they accepted long term placements with multiple siblings. It uprooted their lives in every way. It was messy. It was hard. Getting out the door was a huge challenge. Already tired mamas hit points of exhaustion, mental and physical, that they never knew they could hit. They had to ask for help, lots of it. They had to cry out to God, "I can't do this. But I'm willing. Lord do this thing that I can't do."
And then, just like that, social workers appeared within a few days or weeks to pick up these kids they were prepared to take into their homes for 6 months to a year. For one reason or another, family members stepped up to take guardianship of those kids.
One more story comes to mind. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, who he waited so long to come onto the scene. He obeys the Lord, and just in time, God provides another way.
All these stories have something in common. Sinful hearts, changed and cleaned by God, called to do hard things, called to have willing spirits. Like David's story, God is changing us, not because we are perfect, but because we are willing. Because we lay our hearts before the Lord and say, "God clean up this place, no matter the cost."
In light of all the other stories, the foster care, Abraham's only son, David's grave sins, Jesus himself, my "white lie" seems a pretty inconsequential comparison. Yet, my heart was really broken. It took me five years and childbirth to be willing enough to walk back into that store. The closer you walk with the Lord, the more you realize his holiness and perfection, the more you realize your unholiness, your imperfection. He shows us our sin, while simultaneously showing us the beauty that we don't have to live there anymore, and we don't even have to look there anymore. Instead, we get to look at Jesus.
Instead of returning the onesie from Baby Gap, I kept it and let Titus wear it. It said something like, "I love Mommy." or "Mommy's little Dude." It was a reminder to me for the next three months that God had changed my heart.
Praise God, I'm not the same as I used to be.
I can't wait to pull the onesie out again for Matthias. Who knows what God will be teaching me at that point? But whatever it is, I'm willing, Lord.