Summer has been here in all its glory. But in all it’s glory, and fun, and tv watching, and swimming, and traveling, and eating, and soda drinking days, it’s been hard, and I don’t know how else to describe it.
Naomi told me that it’s probably a huge reminder back to my homeschool days, where you spend all your live long day with your children, bending over backwards to please and to love and to teach and to try to speak gently, pressing into your people and their every need, only to feel at the end of the day like you’ve failed in some way. Like your kids watched too much tv and you didn’t cook them healthy enough food and you still haven’t finished the way-too-long read aloud, and even though you are present and with them and busy being there, you feel like you’re missing something and you’ve failed again. That surely there’s a better way and you’re not doing it. Surely there’s a solution to kids not knowing how to spend their time or to sibling fights or to bad attitudes and you are the only one who doesn’t know what to do and how to parent.
And then throw in the pair of shorts your husband asked you to sew a button on three months ago that’s staring you in the face, un-buttoned, and you’re a failure at everything. Not just mothering.
These words are pretty disgusting and ugly to write, but there it is. This is my life and my head and my jumbled up thoughts right now. I’m caught in some sort of cycle, that I’m pretty sure Emily P. Freeman has nailed on the head in her book Grace for the Good Girl. I’ve been hiding behind a mask of perfection, a mask of should-haves and “do-to-be” Christianity. I do this, and it boils down to me wanting to have all the control, wanting to be all put together in every way, but knowing deep down inside I’m not, but not wanting to be found out. It’s me thinking that it’s about what I do or accomplish or succeed at that makes me who I am, instead of the completed work Christ has already done on me to make me who I am.
It’s me feeling like my greatest weakness and struggle is the fear of man, the idea that I’m bound up into what other people will think or how other people view me, primarily how other Christians view me, when in reality it’s more of a fear-of-me complex–I’m consumed with pleasing myself and I fail at it every.single.day. It’s a trap where you start to believe lies and forget the truth, the truth that we’ve been set free from the rat race, and when Christ sees us He pours His grace onto us and sees His handiwork, and not our imperfect efforts.
I think I have spent a lot of my life thinking like this: like every mistake I make or thing I fail at, it’s like someone’s taking a chisel and chipping away at me, to where I wonder what in the world will be left. And so I think that if I’m mistake free and have my life in perfect order, my Christianity in perfect understanding, my parenting just right, my house perfectly organized, then I can sort of rebuild this block of myself and keep the chiseling knife at bay. Or at least if I’m perceived this way, no one will be able to chisel away at who I am.
So in effect I’m walking this ultra-fragile road, because every single day I fail at being who I think I should be, and the chiseling knife gets pulled out and I feel like I’m left with nothing. It even happens when my husband decides to do something extremely helpful and wonderful for me, but in effect is releasing me of a job that I have somehow construed as a part of me that makes me who I am, then I feel like there’s nothing left of me, like literally I think, “What do I have left? I can’t even shop for my own kid’s shoes because he did it and he did it well. Who the heck am I?”
Ultimately it becomes this crazy identity trap where I truly find myself caught up in feeling good based on my performance at this or that, but I only really feel good when I’ve checked off all my lists, I haven’t yelled at my kids, and my house is cleaned, all on the same day at the same time.
And let’s be real, how often does that ever happen????
So bring it back to summer, I think every day I’ve been faced with this crap in my head, and I’m working on it, but it’s slow. It’s slow because it’s not just about me fixing myself, it’s about me letting the threads unravel and seeing Christ stitch it all up again. It’s like taking one huge cleansing breath and understanding that He’s pouring His gracious breath into me every day, but I won’t be able to see it or use it if I’m sticking my own efforts and performance in the way.
I’m speaking truth to myself, soaking in Scripture when I can, reminding myself of that old favorite song, “I’m forgiven, because He was forsaken. I’m accepted, He was condemned,” and remembering the acceptance I have that’s found in Jesus, and not in anything I can do or accomplish. Realizing that my weaknesses shine a bright light on Christ’s strength, and walking in His strength and letting my perceived goodness crumble is truly the freest way to live.
Remembering that it’s no little thing to be accepted by Jesus–it’s lasting, it’s forever, it’s peace, it’s light, it’s rest.
How are these days for you? Can you relate at all to this heart dilemma? What helps you to see the truth when the lies swim around in your head and you feel like you’re drowning? Tell me, I want to know…