I saw a beautiful woman today while I was dropping my son off at preschool - a fellow mom...and in my sinful envy, I muttered quietly under my breath, "Wow - high maintenance." 

 

Now, please know that I caught myself quickly enough to repent.  Okay, actually, I didn't catch myself.  The Spirit did.  I believe His words to me were, "As are you, my dear."  Ouch.

 

Unfortunately, checking myself out in my minivan window's reflection and catching a glimpse of a baseball cap-clad, sweats-donning, very-much-entrenched-in-her-30's (albeit early 30's!) mom, I knew the Spirit was not referring to my physical appearance.  Didn't take long to pull that look together. (Though, tangentially, sadly, probably longer than I'd like to admit!) 

 

Ahhh, high maintenance.  I was introduced to that phrase during my first viewing of When Harry Met Sally.  Do you remember that movie and that scene?  Meg Ryan, I believe, was ordering lunch, with just about everything "on the side" and Billy Crystal made a comment about her being high maintenance.  And that the worst kind of woman is the one who is high maintenance, and yet doesn't know it and/or admit it.  Meg's character, Sally, was livid and balked at his critique of her.  Case in point.

 

I am the easy kind of high maintenance (if there is such a paradox!) - self-diagnosed, self-aware, self-deprecating.  My poor, sweet husband.  What a handful he has in me.  Anyway, my point.  My point is not to flaunt how difficult I am, or how much time I spend on my hair, or how I also find joy in ordering many, many things on "the side." 

 

It's the Spirit's gentle voice pointing out that I am a handful to Him as well.  He has to work overtime with me.  Just in the fact that I momentarily and silently belittled another woman for being pretty...that tips me off to the state of my heart.  I am sinful.  He has his work cut out with me. 

 

But somehow, and this is the beauty and mystery of grace, He seems to not just endure me, but His word actually tells me that I am precious in His sight...He summons me by name...I am redeemed...and He loves me.  Every difficult, sinful, high-maintenance ounce of me.  And every difficult, sinful, high-maintenance ounce of you. 

 

As we kick off this new year - take this truth with you and let it follow you through your days...you, my friend, are fully loved.  And fully maintained. 

 

(c) Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2003

 

Elisabeth K. Corcoran is the author of Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom's Weary Soul (2001), which can be purchased directly through her publisher, Kregel Publications at 1-888-644-0500 or www.kregel.com, or at amazon.com, chrbook.com or familychristian.com, or through your local Christian bookstore. This column is original and not excerpted from her book.