One of my favorite, recent mom moments was hearing my husband walk through the door and say, “Did you plan on Nevie and Laney playing in the mud?”
“Well…” I thought, “I did say they could do some puddle jumping.” To my utter surprise, and only 20 minutes before Laney needed to be home for her own family’s dinner, I walked outside to ﬁnd the two girlfriends in full glee. Covered in mud from head-to-toe, with no shoes in sight, they were literally dancing in the rain. Leave it to my eight year-old free spirit, who loves creating memories, and her dear friend, Laney, who is up for anything, to make a profound point. I had to capture their moment. Two friends, hugging and loving each other, IN ALL THEIR MESS!
This picture reminds me of how often we need people in our life who can see the beauty in us, even when we are broken, messy and sometimes, stinky. These are the parts of our lives we so desperately try to hold together and keep tucked in our Monica’s closets (a reference to the show Friends for those of you old enough to remember it). We are all a mess, in some form or another, and those of us who try hard to hide it probably have an even bigger mess buried deep, if we take the time to look.
In the conﬁdential spaces at Living Wholehearted, we are helping people discover the beauty that can come out of the most awful and shame-ﬁlled stories. The choices we made. The abuse we received. The addictions we cannot break. The disconnection from what we present to the world and what we genuinely feel and think inside.
Having at least one person in the world who can accept us in our mess is truly a gift, let alone a miracle at times.
I want to be the kind of friend who can let people show their true colors and still love them through it. I want to be the kind of mother who does not ask her children to put on a performance to build up my own pride and reputation. I want to be the kind of wife who can let my husband be weak at times and have his own way about things. I want to be the kind of person who does not run from living, and embraces the messy moments with a conﬁdence that we are all in similar boats.
The new Hawaiian -themed Disney movie, Moana, has an amazing scene at the end. Moana is called to restore the heart to a lava monster, Te Ka, whose heart had been stolen long ago, by the demi-god Maui. If you haven’t seen the movie, this won’t be too much of a spoiler alert…I think. As many Disney princesses do, Moana sings to Te Ka, as she bravely faces the evil darkness and her ﬁre-throwing anger. She sings, “This is not who you are. We know who you are,” and she successfully restores the heart to Te Ka. The lava, Te-Ka’s primary defense, subsides, and Te Ka’s true beauty is revealed. Ahh….It gets me every time!
We need people like Moana in our lives, who see beyond our rough exterior, our defensive ways, our guarded demeanors, our tempers, and our shallow attempts at being seen.
Restoring our hearts requires another person. We are wounded in relationships, and we are healed within relationship.
Mother’s Day is around the corner. As we think about our own mothers, and perhaps being mothers ourselves, it’s important to remember that beauty grows out of ashes. In fact, some of the best fertilizer can be the literal manure we put in our gardens to produce fruit and ﬂowers. God is in the business of using what was purposed for waste and stench, and using it to nourish the deep soils of our souls.
Allowing the mess in our life to be recognized and witnessed by another human being can be the start of something beautiful— amazing, really.
This mother’s day, remember all the moments you wish you could take back and allow those to be the fertilizer for doing it differently this time. Forgive yourself. Confess the ways you messed up to a good friend. It’s never to late to go to your children and say you are sorry and model humility in asking for forgiveness. I do not have to go far back to pull up an example in my own life. It was just tonight when my temper got the best of me. I think my eight year-old and I have a common spice in our genes! After trying to patiently embody Mother Theresa, I broke.
Despite this moment of weakness, I heard a gentle voice in my head reminding me, “This is not who you are.” I then spoke softly to my daughter and asked forgiveness. I was wrong. Her quick embrace and invitation to read me a story about a turtle who loves her mama reminded me that out of my messy moment, and allowing my daughter to see my own brokenness, intimacy grew. It is this way with our children and with other relationships in our lives. Healing is possible.
If you are mother, remind yourself that you are a beautiful mess in need of an embrace from a friend or loved one, and offer that same hug (and grace) to another. If you have a mother, remind her that her humanity has developed something beautiful in you. We are all in need of someone who can love us just as we are, mud and all. Here’s to two little girls who remind us to never stop dancing in the rain, and that a little mess should never stop friends from loving each other well.
Written by Terra A. Mattson, M.A. LPC, LMFT Clinical Director, Co-Owner & Co-Founder Living Wholehearted