Dispatches

There are Holes in My Walls

I strived for perfection, but my five messy beings helped me see the value in chaos.

There are holes in my walls, fist-sized holes. This is not an easy admission for one who prefers order and perfection.

I can recall in those first weeks of motherhood the absolute chaos created by the nine-pound cherub. The mountains of clothing spilling over laundry baskets and the unused infant gear threatened me from every inch of our closet-sized family room. Armed with a degree in child development and fresh from a child-centered career, I was unprepared for the idea that every well-intentioned purchase, every scrubbed toilet and every inch of carpet would be subject to the sticky hands, sour stomach and well-intentioned creative side of my new little muse. 

Giving birth to five children in as many years introduced me to the world of imperfection. I relied heavily on the thoughts of others to define me. If I was the picture of perfection, then I would be worthy and accomplished, two things I had yet to find within my own spirit. But life behind well-tended walls was far less tidy. In those very early years of parenting, order was a dream replaced by five gloriously needy, messy little beings who began to teach me the value of chaos. 

There is a great need in our fractured society for the voices of those who have survived mistakes and tragedies

I gained an appreciation for sticky appliances, Lego scattered rooms, and even the tyranny of a crimson-cheeked toddler. Although I saw glimpses of raw truth and openness in others, I was terrified to share my own life in the same way, certain that, without editing, my truth was not enough. 

We all have holes in our walls. Though we may attempt to conceal them, they are part of our stories. I wonder what would happen if we were to tell the truth about the whole of our lives. There is a great need in our fractured society for the voices of those who have survived mistakes and tragedies: community and connection begin when we show up vulnerable and imperfect. 

I cannot help but picture the Messiah, naked, beaten, bleeding and vulnerable on a cross. Throughout Scripture, Jesus was always willing to put Himself at risk. His heart was split open, vulnerable to rejection and pain. He held nothing back, though His divinity would have allowed a much easier path. He chose vulnerability so that we might know the fellowship of pain. 

When we build walls around those things that make us real, we begin to believe that we are alone and isolated. When we share the truth of our lives with split-open hearts, we find almost at once that we are the same. 

In so many ways I have grown up with my children. And although I have yet to fully surrender my need for order, they have shown me that their security is not based on my perfection, nor is my vast love for them based on theirs. Oh, that they might know the value of the holes in their walls because only beautiful things break. That is how you know they are real. 

Major Lori Miller is assistant Women’s Ministries secretary/Community Care Ministries secretary for the Kentucky/Tennessee Division. 

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