There is something so comforting in knowing that you are not alone. Today I am sharing this space with Christine M. Chapell who is “Offering Hope to the Mom with a Messy Heart.”
Without further ado…
He thought it was the funniest thing, kicking his legs in the air as I spread open a sock to put on his foot. I was already feeling a bit “off” that morning, with the cares of the world pressing hard against my mind. In an attempt to appeal to his three-year-old sensibilities, I quietly informed him that I was suffering from a headache and would appreciate his full cooperation. Turns out he hadn’t developed the ability to empathize as I had hoped.
Laughing and kicking even harder at my poor attempts to hit a moving target with an open sock, my son spared me no effort and my heart began to pound in anger. What I knew to be an innocent game of “catch me if you can” felt like an attack against a heart woke weary. Where there were giggles, I only heard heckling; where there was play, I only saw taunting.
Days before, I would have handled the situation differently, engaging him with questions and redirections in order to make putting on the socks a secondary activity–and it would have worked to diffuse the situation. But I was worried, tired from a night of racing thoughts and poor sleep, with no margin for hitting a toddler-brick-wall. Burning with frustration because of the difficulty he was causing me, I began to bitterly snap at my other children as tears welled up in my eyes.
It’s in these moments–when little things grow cumbersome and weighty–that I discover how easily I give my heart away.
Proverbs 4:23 reads, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (emphasis mine) It is from our hearts that angry thoughts turn into angry words (Luke 6:25), from our hearts that sin spawns forth like a sprawling weed to infect those around us (Matthew 15:18). As much as we would like to think it is our children, our chores, our schedules, or our messy homes causing such difficulty and unhappiness, the fact is we must, as Jesus said, “First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” (Matthew 23:26)
It’s dirty work, this heart-cleaning we are called to do as disciples of Christ, but it’s necessary, critical, life-or-death work. For from it flow the springs of life. We will not continue to mature in our walks with Christ if we neglect the Savior’s wise words: “First clean the inside…” We know this is a pressing matter from the Lord’s perspective, but is it equally as pressing from our own?
As we look to the world around us for answers, we’re saturated with self-help agendas that promise to deliver wholeness, happiness, and bliss–if only we to join the program, check off the steps, and fan the right gurus. But what about when the tidy order is unexpectedly taken away? When the control is divinely stripped from our tiny kingdoms? It’s easy to be happy and carefree when every domino in our lives is falling in the right direction. What about when it’s not? Will those lists and steps have a hope worth clinging to then?
As Christian women look to the Word for answers, they are given something altogether different: the instruction that true change comes first from our hearts.
If we are to have true hope for “mom life,” we must first be willing to confess one important reality: we are the messiest sinner we know. (1 Timothy 1:15) It’s not our children making us angry, it’s the unmet desires lodged deeply within our hearts . It’s not our messy homes making us aggressive, it’s our idol of perfection and order rearing its ugly head. It’s not the sins of others causing us to fail in extending grace, it’s the pride of our hearts believing it has no grievous fault to speak of. Only a finger turned inward has the accuracy to diagnose the real problem surrounding our anger, bitterness, and frustration: a redeemed heart still refusing surrender.
Unless we recognize how desperate our condition really is, we will not understand the love of God or the necessity of the cross. It is this love undeserved–this grace unmerited–that is the true and lasting hope for overwhelmed moms. The love of the Father feeds the obedience of the daughter, giving life to dead bones and fruit to barren trees. Labeling our sins and shortcomings for what they really are, namely offensive strongholds set up against our loving Father, does not make us failures–it makes us eligible for the grace sorely needed to change. (1 John 1:9)
Our hope for change in Christ is not without the help for change by his Spirit.
There is a living hope for the mom with a messy heart, and that is the hope of Christ in us. It is a power stronger than death (Romans 8:11), able to equip us to overcome every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). It is the promise of transformation through trial and tribulation (James 1:2-3), and the guarantee of ultimate deliverance (Romans 8:38-39). It is the warm embrace of a prodigal returned (Luke 15:20), the adoration of a daughter crowned royalty (Isaiah 62:3). This love of God–as communicated by the Word of God–promises to turn messy hearts clean and “mean-mommies” kind. It’s a love worth dying to self for.
Christine M. Chappell is a wife, mother of three, and the author of “Clean Home, Messy Heart: Promises of Renewal, Hope, and Change for Overwhelmed Moms.” A former business owner and marketing trainer, she now balances home life with raising children and growing in Christ. Christine has a deep passion for ministry of the Word to women–desiring to bring God’s Word to bear on spiritual and emotional battles such as panic, fear, depression, anger, and anxiety. She c
urrently serves the local church through ministry of the Word to women, and is in the process of pursuing her Association of Certified Biblical Counselors certification. She writes frequently at her blog faithfulsparrow.com and can be found on Facebook (Facebook.com/cleanhomemessyheart) and Instagram (@christinemchappell).
Southern California readers can connect with Christine in-person at her upcoming Barnes & Noble book signing event on March 4th from 1-3pm, hosted by the Temecula Barnes & Noble store. For more information about this upcoming event, click here.