Last week, I paged through a magazine designed to inspire moms with ideas for fun family activities. 

I didn’t feel inspired. 

I felt like pulling out my toenails. 

I read articles on repurposing old juice boxes, hiding veggies in desserts, and creating the perfect Easter egg; all the while, feeling like a complete failure as a mom. 

Here are my confessions: 
  • I’ve never created a toy car wash out of old milk cartons and felt.
  • I still bake old school chocolate chip cookies: butter, flour, and sugar. (If I’m truly confessing, I also buy the pull-apart dough.) And, I’ve never ever hidden chick peas inside cookie dough.
  • My children don’t decorate Easter eggs with dye made by mother nature herself– turmeric and cabbage. We use store-bought dye and cheap vinegar. Cheap, I tell you.  

The magazine did inspire me to realize one thing: 

When I evaluate myself as a mom, a friend, a wife, a neighbor, my first instinct is usually to ask myself a pretty rudimentary (and frankly, rude) question: Am I good or bad at this?

The problem with this line of questioning is it’s based in a magazine’s value of “goodness.” Anytime I position my worth against a glossy, trendy, commercialized version of womanhood, I will always end up as a “bad” mom/wife/woman. I will always feel ashamed.   

In journalist Warren Berger’s latest book, A More Beautiful Question, he posits the theory that creative questioning can lead to problem-solving, improvements, innovation, and fresh thinking. 

Could it be that fighting against shame also involves chasing beautiful questions?

That afternoon (post magazine-shame) I was jogging down a path which stretches beyond my house all the way to the city of Chicago. The section alongside Lake Michigan is gorgeous. On my side of town, the thing is a freaking eye sore.

See what I mean? Ugs.

To the left of the jogging path: dead brambles, garbage, and algae-laden swamps

To the right of the path: desolate fields

In the middle: broken orange clay skeet-discs. (There’s a shooting range nearby, so the jogging path is littered with these. Not to mention the fact that I literally have run for my life, in case any shooters decide to get trigger-happy that day.)  

There’s no good way to spin it. The path is just blatantly ugly. 
As I ran through that corridor of choas, I began to wonder, first of all, about a city beautification project. I mean, COME ON, already.

I also began to wonder what it would look like to actively pursue beautiful questions. 

When I begin to feel ashamed, what if I responded differently

Rather than minimizing myself as either a good or bad mom, wife, daughter, etc. what if I asked:

In the midst of a dead, dark, and difficult world, am I offering the people I love—my husband, my kids, my friends, my neighbors—a clear path to the love of God? How can I do that today?

Rather than obsessing over the trendy Easter egg dye of the moment, what if I asked:

 Am I evidencing the true Easter to those around me? Am I showing them the resurrection life; the presence and pleasure of Jesus?

I know I’ll never do this magazine-perfectly, but because of Easter, I am not expected to. 

I am currently obsessed with the spiritual memoir Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber. (You must read it.) Weber, a professor of Romantic Literature, describes the intricacies of coming to faith while studying at Oxford. 

Ruminating on the resurrection power of God, Weber describes His love like this: 

“A love that turns back to a place of danger to retrieve its beloved. Love that illustrates itself in acts of words and trust. A love at work in the unseen. A love that weeps over us, releases us, raises us, removes our grave clothes, and tells us we are free to go. . . An upstart love. A radical love. An uncontainable, indefinable, incomprehensible love. A love that invites and defies and eternally transforms.”

Then she asks herself a more beautiful question: “Dare I believe this?”

Today, in response to love of God, I am going to ask more beautiful questions.

I praise Him for already providing the most beautiful answer, in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

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