I recently had a long phone conversation with a very wise, old woman who has a few decades on me (like almost six) whom I admire and love dearly.
We talked about motherhood and how exhausting and overwhelming it can be at times (she’s a mom of nine kids). We talked about faith (or lack thereof). We talked about a private, personal intention, and she reminded me for the umpteenth time that I can’t control the situation. “It’s God business,” she said.
And it is.
We chatted about my struggles with perfectionism. “You’re wonderful,” she said. “Stop trying to be perfect.”
“I’ll try hard to work on it,” I said.
“Don’t. Stop trying. You’re trying too hard at everything.”
“I know. I know it all intellectually. I know what I need to be doing, but it’s hard to make it happen.”
“Taking things from the mind to the heart is always the toughest part.”
That it is.
I said, “Thank you so much for this. You always make me feel better. I want to be you.”
“You know who you should really want to be?”
God? I think it, but I don’t say it out loud.
“Katie because you’re good and you’re wonderful.”
And then she said (clearly having read my mind), “And don’t try so hard to be God, or you might end up crucified.” This is her trademark humor. I chuckled and then choked on some sobs.
“I’m sorry,” I sniffled.
We even talked about blogging. This 88-year-old has an Internet connection and computer, although she admits she isn’t all that impressed with the technology. “It’s such a time sucker.”
I agreed with her.
“The few blogs I’ve looked at and I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m such an old lady,” she added. “But the impression I get is that moms take mothering and themselves so, so seriously. Everything we do isn’t that big. Kids grow up in spite of us. We’re not in control nearly as much as we’d like to think we are.”
“I know,” I said and then sniffled some more.
“Stop trying so hard,” she repeated. “Take it all to God. Lay it all down at His feet. It’s okay to just tell Him, ‘I’m a mess. Please clean me up.'”
We hang up. I sit quietly for a moment. I don’t try to do anything except pray.
Please clean me up.
And amazingly, that simple prayer is good enough as I imagine Him holding my messy, broken self close while He begins to patch things up, piecing me back together and offering me the hope for wholeness.