Am I the only one who gets overwhelmed by Pinterest? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Pinterest. Except that lately I find that I fall short of my grand expectations. Not because I am failing. Not because I am not a good wife, or mom, or housekeeper. I fall short because I compare myself to others. Comparing my reality to a picture of someone else’s perfectly posed life is a surefire way to make me feel inadequate. Sometimes I forget that in virtual reality, I only see what people want me to see. Where as in my own life, I see it all: the mess, the mistakes, the motivation fizzle. So, in an attempt to be honest with you and with myself, I am going to (self-consciously) tell you about some lessons I have recently learned. Continue reading
Since the end of January, my son has had a constant ear infection. We have tried all sorts of medicines and remedies, desperate to find him relief. On top of that, my son, my husband, and I have been passing back and forth a respiratory virus and a stomach bug. I’ve barely helped my husband with his work, or kept my house livable. I have missed more church than I have attended this year. My days, weeks, and months have blurred together. Sleep is a special occasion. I have had to cancel tons of plans and appointments. I feel like a frustrated failure. But what I am slowly learning is, it is okay.
It is so hard for me to accept the fact that I can’t do it all. I constantly worry that people are upset with me because I am not fulfilling whatever expectations they may have for me. And do you want to know the stupid part? I worry more about the people around me than the people close to me. I care more about Jane Doe from work or church and what she thinks about me, than I do what my family or close friends do. This has been something that I have struggled with all my life, but now it has to stop. Everyday I have to make the decision to not let the people around me define me.
Each time a situation arises I need to ask myself two questions: Am I doing my best to care for my family and myself? and Is God pleased with my behavior?
If the answer is no, then I need to pinpoint areas where I need to be better. And I am not talking about “I need to keep my house pristine.” I mean working on patience, kindness, encouragement, being helpful, forgiving, and so on.
If the answer is yes, then I need to be okay with who I am and the things that are happening in my life. I have to let the thoughts and opinions of others go. It is pride that keeps me in search of praise and approval from others. So for the health of my family and me – I have to learn to not care. Why let those who know so little about my daily life control my thoughts and emotions? And if the most productive day in a week consists of making a meal and showering and holding my whiny child, that is okay.
It all comes back to how you are defined. Will the words of others define you? Or will the words of God?
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
God called me to the life and situations I am in, so if He is pleased with me, then what else matters?
A piercing cry tears through the quiet night. I groggily open my eyes and see the clock – 3:28 a.m. I go through the motions of making a bottle, only half awake, my body and mind heavy. As I pick up my son to feed him for the third time that night, tears begin slipping down my cheeks. Exhaustion courses through me. But that exhaustion isn’t just from sleep deprivation. Or the extreme level of hormones my body’s trying to wash out of my system. It comes from someone needing you – all the time. It comes from being in constant contact with people, but feeling all alone. It comes from feeling like accepting help shows weakness. It comes from constantly trying to prove to someone – anyone, that I am capable of handling anything thrown my way.
I could probably take you through my life’s story and point out situations and examples of why I became the way I am, but if I did that then I would only feel justified where I should not. Almost every problem in my life comes down to one major flaw. I am filled to the brim with pride. And I cannot accept grace. I cannot accept grace because of my pride. Even the process of deciding to write all this down, for people who know me to read, was a battle with my own pride. It goes against every fiber of me to admit that I had hard nights with my son. To admit that I should have accepted help when it was offered to me, but I didn’t.
I have always felt that if I needed help, or if I am overwhelmed, then I have failed. Yet when I look at others who ask for help, I think they are perfectly justified. They deserve help, where as I do not. I suffer; I make my family suffer, because I have a double standard for me and those around me. I hold myself to an extreme standard of excellence. I feel that if I am not stressed to my breaking point every day, then I am lazy. And all the while I feel like no one can know. That I have to keep a smile on and tell everyone (mainly myself) that “I’ve got this,” that we live in a state of perfection. All these feelings and expectations rob my family and me of happiness and comfort.
So how do I combat this? How do I accept grace? How do I let go of the rules and stress that I have placed on myself? For me it is an everyday choice to lay down my pride and accept gifts from God in the form of help and encouragement from others. Really it all comes down to LIVING this Bible verse:
“And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 2:9 (KJV)
I am not perfect. I have bad days. I have bad nights. Sometimes I don’t think I can take one more second of crying, one more load of laundry, or one more stinky diaper. Sometimes I need help! And that is okay. In fact it is wonderful! Maybe some days are too much because I need to look around and see all the blessings that God has given me; the people willing to pick me up when I am falling, willing to love me even when I don’t feel lovable, willing to accept me even though I am not superwoman. Accepting help does not mean that I am falling short of what God wants for me. It means that he is daily molding me into what He intends for me to be. And what He intends for me is NOT to be self-sufficient, but whole-heartedly dependent on Him and willing to accept the gifts he offers every day. Truly amazing grace.