Friday, November 19, 2010

Just As I Am

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. ~ John 13:34, NLT

The other day, my son had a friend whose parting shot from our house was, "Gee, Mrs. Dittrich, if our house was as messy as yours, my mom would kill herself!"  And he didn't buy it when I retorted that his mother was not at the hospital as often as I was.  Laughing to myself, I thought it was too good of a comment not to share.  I posted it on Facebook, and had friends respond with all sorts of silly thoughts including shock at how rude this little boy was.

Sadly, while friends may think this little boy was inappropriate, many of us put up with similar comments, thinly veiled as helpfulness, by adults.  In fact, a number of years ago, I had a "friend" send me a 3 page written critique of my parenting skills, housekeeping skills and the like.  In her letter, she offered to give me some tips on child-rearing and stated that my life was just too chaotic for her to hang out with me until I got it together.  It hurt me deeply, beyond words.  But what I was grateful for at the time, and still am today, is that confidence that the Lord loves me just the way I am.

In one of my favorite books, EVERYBODY'S NORMAL TILL YOU GET TO KNOW THEM, John Ortberg emphasizes that we all come with an "as is" tag on us, much like you'd see on a clearance rack or resale item.  The trick is to love one another like Jesus does, accepting people the way they are without harsh judgement.

This is particularly something we crave as parents of kids with special needs.  Our lives are messy, complicated and nothing at all like we had dreamed of.  Yet, so many of us face criticism on a regular basis.  "If you would only lay the law down with that kid!"  "You're just spoiling him."  "Oh, did the cleaning lady forget to come this week?"  "You know, laying down unconfessed sin brings healing."  When we're under such pressure, this added tension is enough to put us over the top and add to our isolation.

But there is One who will never look at us that way.  St. Peter will never be found at the Pearly Gates asking you how tidy your living room was or if your bills were all paid without late fees before he lets you in.  In fact, there's no one who could ever be found to be good enough to deserve Heaven!  We're all, to put it in current terms, a hot mess in our own little way.  Our challenges may be more evident to others, but none of us are flawless.  Jesus came to give His life as the perfect sacrifice for our imperfection.

The old hymn "Just As I Am" is so heartening when we are feeling discouraged with our failure to measure up to the expectations of others.   When I actually capture a quiet moment and have the opportunity to ponder that the God of the Universe beckons me to just come and be loved on by Him, it overwhelms me.  Though it often may be tearfully, and is always imperfectly, I come to my One place of solace.  How about you?


  1. Just to say that I would be deeply shocked if a 'friend' or indeed anyone at all would have sent a letter to me such as the one that you describe. You don't do that to anyone. No-one has the right to judge anyone else's life until they have lived in their shoes. Parenting kids with special needs means that the kids come first and the house is somewhere down the list of priorities for most of us. Sometimes just making it through to the end of the day is a success.

  2. Shocked is an understatement. I had felt like I'd been sucker-punched. Someone in my life definitely had her priorities messed up at the time. Sadly, she's now reaping some of what she sowed.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!