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Whenever there’s a big holiday approaching, like Mother’s Day, it’s encased in commercials showing the perfect celebration with people who live perfect lives. Everyone gets together. Everyone gets along. The food is perfectly made. It’s laid out on a pretty table with a lovely centerpiece and matching, color-coordinated napkins.

Even the scrubbed-cleaned, perfectly behaved children with every hair in place are color-coordinated.

Mom doesn’t lift a finger. Somehow, everything magically happens without her hard work because it’s her day. On this one day, Dad becomes a master chef, expert party coordinator, charming emcee and perfect parent all rolled into one.

Mom, who is perfectly dressed without a hair out of place, is surprised by all the fuss. She says many “You shouldn’t” haves, but she’s very pleased. She takes her special place of honor at the table and is celebrated in wonderful TV commercial fashion. Each child presents her with a beautiful handmade card. Dad brings out the perfect gift wrapped in lovely paper with matching bow. Sentimental music plays in the background. Everyone smiles, as if they’re waiting for someone to take their picture.

When we compare our own lives to this perfection it comes up dramatically short.

But that’s the thing about perfection. It’s intimidating because no one can live up to it. Here’s the reality. It doesn’t exist, except in the minds of people who write ads. And also, unfortunately, in the minds of those who believe the ads and feel like they always fall short.

In reality, Mother’s Day is much different. Mom awakens to the smell of burnt toast as the smoke alarm is blaring. She jumps out of bed, stubbing her toe as she throws her husband’s old flannel shirt over her decades-old nightgown. Her hair’s sticking up in directions that defy the laws of physics. She finds only one slipper, which she shoves on the foot with the throbbing toe. As she enters the kitchen she steps on something gooey. Her good foot goes up in the air as she sails across the room, landing on any hope she carried for a quiet, peaceful day.

Someone’s crying. Someone’s throwing up. Someone’s teasing someone else. Dad’s sleeping in. Chaos ensues. But then she sees it. The jelly-smeared card the kids made just for her. They offer it as a peace offering. The oversized hearts drawn with love grace almost every surface of the paper. Each name is carefully printed. One with peanut butter-smeared ink.

Lying on the floor wondering how she’s going to get up and what this gooey mess really is, she smiles. Her smiles turn to laughter. The kids join in without knowing what’s funny as her husband yells from the bedroom, “Hey, Honey. What’s for breakfast?”

Or, a woman wakes up and is all alone. She’s never been blessed with children or her children don’t have time for her. Maybe she’s never married or maybe her husband’s gone either through divorce or death. Her house is too quiet. No burning toast. No sounds of laughter or fighting. No sticky kitchen floor. No little fingerprints smudging the too-clean surfaces. No nothing. And she wonders why she ended up here all alone on Mother’s Day. Again. It’s not the perfect life she thought she’d have. Far from it.

Maybe your life reflects one of these scenarios or something in-between. Maybe you still have your mom. Maybe she’s in Heaven. Maybe you’ve had to fight for everything you have in life and you’re tired of fighting. Maybe you are content with the choices you’ve made or maybe you carry a heavy load of regrets.

Whatever maybe you live in, there is someone who is not a maybe but a reality. He’s the only perfect person who ever walked this earth. Jesus. Talk to him. He listens. He cares. He’ll lift you up off the kitchen floor of your disappointments. He’ll give you comfort when you’re sad and lonely. He’ll help you with your memories. The good ones. The bad ones. The ones that still make you cry. He’ll wrap his loving arms around you and give you his peace. Something that cannot be portrayed on a TV commercial but only experienced in the midst of our Savior’s love.

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Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at kathyydoe4@gmail.com.

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