Here she comes. Schlepping into church. Twenty minutes late. Again?

Her big pregnant belly. No husband. Those three kids running through the parking lot.

Why does she even bother? The service will be halfway over before she finds a seat.

Those boys wear the same shirts every week. And what about her daughter? Sweatpants and a shirt two sizes too small?

Maybe she needs to go to bed earlier. I would hate to see the rest of her house.

What is up with her?

I might have had thoughts like those 10 years ago. I couldn’t have possibly understood what I know now.

Now that I know what’s it’s like to be her.

Now I understand what the morning was like. How even 12 hours of sleep didn’t feel like it could possibly be enough. How it hurt to stand up.

Now I know how easy it would have been to stay home and relax. Even walking felt like such a chore. And with one child buried on the floor in a sea of blankets refusing to get dressed, it would have been so much easier to stay home and focus her energy on the house that seemed to have puked mountains of toys, clothes and dirty dishes.

Now I understand her determination.

Now I get it. She just smiles at the outfits the kids have chosen, not sure why they bypass all the clothes in the closet for the same shirts every week. Not sure why her daughter chose velour sweat pants. But just happy and relieved that they were dressed.

And now I understand that swallowing her pride and walking in halfway through took far more courage than turning around. The unspoken admission that she doesn’t have it all together. She isn’t on top of her life. She’s empty and broken and presses on just so she can be filled up.

Today I’m thankful for my church. Where people offer grace and love, rather than judgment and criticism to people like her. To people like me.

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