A Hard-Won Truth


I like order. Ask my family or anyone who knows me well. It’s true.

Fact is, I work pretty hard to create order – to make some sort of sense of the continual chaos that my life just is. Listing it, organizing it, labeling it, even spending an insane amount of time just thinking about how to do it- faster, more efficiently, more joyfully.

Yes, I like order. A lot.

Truth is, being organized has become somewhat of a Linus blanket for me. You know, the insecure little guy in the famous Peanuts cartoon? That blanket just seemed to make everything a bit easier to handle.

Well, that’s how I feel about being organized. Organization makes me feel like my world makes sense. Like everything has a place, a home, a box to fit neatly into. Now, this is not inherently a bad thing, either. Friends even invite me over to their house to help them get organized.

I am praised for this skill and I am more than happy to share it. Like I said, it makes me happy.

That’s all well and good…when you are talking about stuff. But what about when you are talking about people. Ouch.

I don’t want to admit it, but frankly, sometimes my attempts to organize my spaces can spill over into trying to fit the people in my life into the same neat and tidy boxes.

And in case you didn’t know (I actually had to figure this out the hard way), people don’t typically like to be put into a box. Especially one they didn’t themselves create.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t intentionally manipulate the people around me. My clumsy effort to keep my ducks in a row (literally) is often nothing more than a feeble excuse to neglect the hard work that building genuine relationships requires. In truth, I don’t actually want to neglect them. It’s just that the work of relationships is messy and hard and both of those things tend to set my feet running in the opposite direction.

Parenting has been like this for me. I love it, but it hasn’t come easy.

I love the process of pouring into fresh hearts and the noble work of raising the next generation for Jesus. Before I became a parent, I imagined that it would be such a grand endeavor (and it is). I imagined that I would be really good at it, too. Lol! It never once occurred to me that I would have moments, even seasons, when I would feel utterly defeated.

It never crossed my mind that I would struggle, at times, to connect with my children, and figure out what they needed and wanted from me or from our life together. It didn’t seem possible that I would feel inadequate.

But I did. I have. And in some ways, I still do.

One day, as the “boxes” in my life just wouldn’t cooperate into neat and tidy rows, I came face to face with some hard truths. It was a Holy Spirit moment, really. You know, when you just know that the clarity afforded you could not possibly come from your own twisted heart. But in that moment, some pieces that were scattered become crystal clear.

Bitterness and resentment had been growing in my heart, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. I felt unappreciated, unhappy, unfulfilled. But I had no good reason to blame these feelings on.

I confess I looked for one, but again, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Until one day when my youngest daughter came running in from playing outside with blood oozing down her tiny leg.

I exploded with irritation. My exasperation came to the surface and I found myself completely undone by the inconvenience of her suffering and need. Didn’t she know how frazzled I was? Didn’t she comprehend how hard I was working just to keep everything in order? Didn’t she realize that she was just adding a box to my already overwhelming “to-do” list?

Wait a minute. What!?!

Yeah. Clarity, for me, is often hard won. The reason that I couldn’t find a reason for my discontent was that I had refused to take a hard look at myself. The realization was staggering and it brought my heart low.

Somewhere along the way I had tried to shove my family, my wild-at-heart children, into a box. Nice and neat.

Somewhere amidst the hard, the messy, and the weary, I attempted to organize and control my world and the people in it. Along the way, I had misplaced the things I love the most about my life…the hearts of the people in it.

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Proverbs 14:1

I went down on my knees before my sweet little girl and realized her heart was just as broken as her knees. I asked for her forgiveness. I apologized for behaving so badly. Scooping her up in my arms, I began to wash her wounds and dry her tears. I let her be who she was at that moment in time and she gently allowed me to do the same. It’s what we both needed the most.

There is nothing orderly about living and learning and loving. Especially when it comes to relationships.

It’s messy. And it’s really ok that it is. It’s supposed to be that way. I always tell my children “family is the training ground for your life.” And guess what? This momma’s still training. We all are.

Relationships are always worth the fire they often come through. It’s the staying, the loving, the trying that makes them authentic.

The song I want to share with you today is from Housefires, entitled, “Build My Life.” I pray that our lives, as women, as mothers, daughters, wives, and friends would be built upon Jesus. He loved so well, you know? He is love.

And sweet sisters, He loved outside of the box. He saw the people around Him with a love and clarity that I want to emulate. He loved with eyes wide open. He loved with everything that He was. He gave everything He was to that endeavor, to bring us closer to the heart of God.

Oh, that we would follow in His footsteps, willing to see, and love, and give, and serve, and lay it all down–those boxes, expectations, to-do lists–everything that just doesn’t matter.

Let us be known, instead, by Jesus’s standard–this kind of radical, self-sacrificial love. That’s the box I want to check in this life. That’s what I want to have in “order.”


With joy for the journey,


Join Sarah in San Diego at our next Strength2Thrive Conference. You can find more information and register here.