The calm before the storm, the quiet before the chaos…I sit at my kitchen table reading a story while everyone is still asleep. It is about a mom of three boys and her journey as she tries to raise them in the love of Christ. It is inspiring and motivating and a little intimidating.
Over the week end I spent too much time in Facebook as many of us do. I scrolled through people’s photos of their clean living room, their Martha Stewart dinner, and their smiling children and a feeling of inadequacy washes over me. Why does everyone else have it together?
On Saturday, I sat in the waiting room at my daughter’s ballet school chatting with another mother. I listened to her talk about their morning routine. How her kids loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, swept the floor and rarely even argued. The same feeling of inadequacy confronted me again.
Why does it feel like my kids are the only ones arguing constantly? Why am I the only one who can’t seem to keep the floor clear of toys or the bathroom mirror free from handprints? If so many other can do it why cant I?
This brings us to Sunday morning, a rush of activity trying to get everyone fed, dressed and semi-presentable for church. We make it out the door with only two minor arguments and one spilt glass of juice. Everyone piles into the SUV and then piles out and rushes into the back of the sanctuary to quietly take our seats. Not 5 minutes into the service and my two-year-old is running out to look for cookies and my 4-year-old is telling me she is SO bored. Finally, the pastor calls for children’s time and Sunday school dismissal. The kids run off and I am left alone. I breath a sigh of relief, no one had a melt down during the prayer so it was a success so far. As I Iisten to the message that old familiar feeling of inadequacy creeps up again. He is talking about staying connected to the Lord, gulp. I love the Lord deeply but how much time do I spend with him? I can easily make excuses about how busy I am or how tired I am or how there is just no spare minutes in the day. But I know somehow that is not valid.
I gaze out the window at the parking lot replaying the hours and minutes in my day and consciously try to see how I could add that time into my day. Then I remember that uncomfortable conversation I had with he ballet mom on Saturday. She was talking about how she gets up an hour early to read and pray. Maybe I could do that? My thought is interrupted by the worship team as they begin to close the service.
After the service I gather my crew and head for the door as quickly as I can before I lose one. Someone stops me just as I am about to get through the door with all four kids. She smiles at all the kids and then she begins to commend me. “You look so beautiful and you are always so organized and on time. Your children are so kind and polite. You have it all so well put together.” I thank her then head to the car. As I drive home I laugh to myself and I think about that sweet woman’s comment and how far from reality it is. How can she look at MY family and say we were on time, or quiet or put together? I haven’t washed my hair in…well I won’t say how long and my sons hair is growing wings because he needs a haircut so badly. She is not seeing my sink full of dishes and basket full of laundry at home. She is just seeing a glimpse of a much larger picture.
Later that evening I returned to social media before heading to bed. I scrolled through some more pages and the gnawing feeling of inadequacy returned. I turned to my husband sitting on the couch next to me and made the comment, how come everyone else looks so put together. He very wisely said to me “That is just their highlight reel.” I turned back to my phone and went to look at my profile. I realized that if I had been someone else looking at my posted photos I would have thought my life looks pretty perfect too.
We all work so hard to appear perfect, to appear on top of the world, but why? It is a vicious façade of judgement really. I judge others and they judge me and I’m constantly wondering who I measure up to and who I don’t.
A familiar verse was brought to my attention this week – Psalm 139:13-14 [highlight1]“You created me in my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”[/highlight1] The Lord has quietly reminded me that I am his child and he has created me perfect. He gave me the perfect set of skills to be a mother to MY Children, he gave the perfect temperament to be in MY marriage and he loves me perfectly where I am at. He knows me, all of me. He knows about the times I yell at my kids, the times I am selfish, the times I am late or messy or mean and he loves it all. I do not need to be afraid to show the good, bad and ugly because I am redeemed.
I am challenged this week to try to be more authentic, to break the cycle of comparing in my own community. Not to air all my dirty laundry but just to stop the battle of trying to hide all the imperfections, all the real-life moments. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made, we are loved by the king and we need to extend authentic love and grace to ourselves and to those around us!