I’m somewhat sure I’m doing a few things wrong in my life. That is, wrong according to my own ridiculous expectations of myself.
I don't work for a high-earning company. I haven’t made the New York Times Best Seller’s list. I have dirty dishes on my kitchen counter, currently, as we speak.
I feel like a failure most days as a wife, mom and friend. I don’t call or write my Mom enough, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t sent out a Holiday card in like, five years. Oh, did I mention I’m pretty sure I’m failing as a mom?
Who makes the rules around here? Why do we feel so inadequate in today's culture? Do any of you ever want to go back to churning butter and running through fields of wildflowers with your perfectly content, technology-free children?
Much of my writing is reflective. I’m typically either thinking through a situation, or have recently come through a life lesson. This essay on life is still in process, so forgive the informal tone.
I might possibly be using you as a sounding board.
I guess I’m wondering who decides what constitutes a perfect life? Where do we get this idea that someone else’s version of living--someone’s unique existence is the one we should be copying?
Sure, there will be some overlapping. There will be people whose experiences sound very much the same. There will be statistics and data which explain preferred outcomes and point to choices which brought about that result. I get it that there are certain absolutes. That’s not what I’m thinking about here.
Current status check:
Roof over my head. (check)
Food. Clothes. Education. (check, check, check).
Technically, if those things are a part of mine and my offspring’s experience (and they are), then we have the formula for a pretty fab lifestyle. And yet, I sit here today, reflecting on all the ways I must be messing the whole thing up.
Perhaps it’s due to my fascination with perfectionism. I’m trying to give it up, honestly I am. It just creeps back into my subconscious every once in a while and begs for me to take another look at it’s many charms. If I was perfect then surely the outcomes of my life would be perfect too.
I know what I need. You need it too, if you are wandering around in “What if” land like I have been this week.
Most of the time we just need a reminder about what is truly important. We don't usually need someone telling us what we are doing wrong. Most often we need an affirming voice telling us to keep going in the areas where we are doing our best.
My husband and I had an interesting discussion this week. Every once in awhile we (and by we I mostly mean I) start worrying about whether or not our kids have all the opportunities they should have. Will they grow up in the right way, with the correct influences and will they have all the chances they could have to make it in life? I’m not sure why I’m even worried about it. But, it seems like the thing to do as a “barely millennial.” It feels like I should be very concerned about the way in which my kids are growing up.
I’m all for intentional parenting. All for it.
I’ve read a few parenting books and I think they are fabulous. We have to raise these whipper-snappers into functioning adults. It’s a big job.
But, if you need a reality check like I do, I’m going to share one with you.
It’s going to be okay.
I need to hear it and I’m guessing someone else needs to hear it too.
If you can’t afford the highly competitive, private school with all the opportunities for success, it will be okay.
If you can’t make that awesome vacation work because, well, bills, it will be okay.
If you have to eat rice and beans for the next fourteen days because the transmission went out, it will be okay.
If you can't manage putting all of your kids in extra-curricular activities, it will be okay.
If your kids decided to try out that swear word they overheard and you are still dying from embarrassment, it will be okay. (Life lesson!)
If you are loving each other and making this crazy life work to the best of your ability, it will be okay.
People who came from what seems like the back of the pack have been making it fine for years…
Thomas Edison was told he was “too stupid to learn anything.”
Michael Jordan was once rejected from his high school basketball team.
The founder of Starbucks grew up in a low-income housing complex.
Perhaps you dream of creating the perfect life with as few complexities as possible. But, could it be that the complexities are what help create courage and determination?
I’m making it my goal to do as much as I can, with what I have. And then, I’m going to choose to accept the inevitable.
I don’t want to be lazy. I don’t want to say it’s good enough when it really isn’t.
However, I do want to stop allowing my perception of the perfect life to get in the way of enjoying the beautiful blessings I have right in front of my clueless face.
Today I will choose to give my family an extra dose of loving, even if they scrunch up their face and act like they don't like it.
Today I will choose to have an attitude of gratitude, knowing that I have all I need to make successful children.
Today I will remember that nothing good comes out of comparison. Instead, l will do the best with what I've been given and forget about whether or not the person next to me is doing better or worse than me.
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As many of you know, I have been working on a project near and dear to my heart for the past year. I've written a book and have partnered with WestBow Press to publish it. I'm so excited to report that it's almost finished!
I feel so strongly that this book could help people who were once like me. I've often wondered how differently my story would have played out if I would have had access to a story like mine. If I could have read an honest story and known that I was not alone. If I could have known that healing was possible, even if it didn't look like perfection.
My book will also help those who are supporting people with challenges. I believe it will help them be more empathetic and understanding.
I want to get the word out about this book, but I'm going to need some help to do it!
I'm looking for volunteers to be part of my launch team. We begin right away, so if you think you might be interested, please head on over there.
I can't wait to get started!
I have a junk drawer in my kitchen island. Perhaps you have one that's similar. Honestly, it isn't all junk. There are some pretty important things hiding in there. But, over time I've found an odd assortment of items tend to accumulate in that location. Pens which no longer work, a random key that no one wants to throw away (you know, just in case). A few stray paper clips, a piece that fell off of a piece of furniture, just waiting to be reunited with its larger part.
Every once in awhile, I come to a point of frustration and I know it's time to clean out the drawer. It's too full, too disorganized and littered with things that don't belong. I comb through its contents, checking for things of value, placing items in their rightful place, discarding the pens that no longer contain ink. I typically find things no longer useful to me, so they join the pens' fateful demise.
I've learned that my mind can become a junk drawer all too easily if I'm not continually dealing with the excess negativity. When I let things slide I end up with a thought that turns into a normal reaction, which evolves into a habit. It happens gradually and yet all too quickly.
Just as we should frequently sort out the junk drawer in our home, we must take the time to sort out our thoughts as well. So often there are thought patterns that have no business taking up space. There are beliefs we hold about ourselves and others that are nothing more than blatant lies. They have been allowed to take over.
It's time to root them out.
The rooting out isn't easy, but it's worth it in the end. A mind full of truthful, meaningful thoughts will foster peace and calm. The mind that contains fear, worry, and lies will breed anxiety, discontent and pain.
If you knew it was possible to change, would you want to?
Take a minute and think honestly about that question.
Are you content living in dysfunction, or are you ready for transformation? If you are ready to walk on a new path, read on.
Change requires a choice.
I mean, honestly, when it's time to clean out the junk drawer in my kitchen, it's the last thing I want to be doing. I'd rather sit on the couch and relax than tackle that craziness. It's similar when we go to transform our thought patterns. It might be messy in there, but it's our mess and we are comfortable with it. It may bug us from time to time...like when we open that drawer and rifle through the contents, but we feel like we can deal with it.
We have to make the decision that we won't settle for a kind of dysfunctional comfort zone. If you've felt the pangs of frustration, you know it's not healthy for you to continue in it. So, make the choice to make a change!
Since you aren't able to stop the thoughts from coming into your mind, you have to take the time to tackle them when they arrive.
Say for instance, you find yourself entertaining this idea from time to time: "No one cares about me..."
The next time you hear that thought, write it down. Take a little time and ask yourself where that thought originated from. Is it something you've thought for as long as you can remember? Or, is it a new thought, brought on by a recent experience? Record your observations about your findings.
Next, go to your search bar on your computer and type in the following: "Verses about God's care for me." Click on one of the results. Read the verses. Write down one or two which are particularly meaningful. Keep them close to you, perhaps by your bed, in your car, or taped to your bathroom mirror.
When that thought comes to you again, stop immediately and speak to the thought (in your mind, or out loud...I won't judge).
"I know that there is Someone who cares for me! Isaiah 41:10 says, 'Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.' And furthermore, in Matthew 6 it says that I'm more important to God than the birds of the air, and even they are taken care of!"
Every time that thought comes to steal your joy, replace it with a statement you know to be true. (Even if it doesn't seem true at the time).
You can even think about instances in your life when people cared for you in meaningful ways. Speak about those times and replace that negative thought:
"I know I'm cared for because Carla smiled at me last time she saw me and told me she had been thinking about me this week. And, my neighbor offered to pick up my mail while I was out of town. And I had the nicest conversation with the girl at the checkout stand - she was so friendly!"
The important thing is that you immediately spin that negative thought around to something positive. Do it over and over and over. Every time you entertain a meaningless, negative thought, replace it with a positive affirmation. Before long you will be amazed at how different your thought life is becoming.
If you find yourself continually entertaining thoughts you know to be prideful or impure, stop immediately and confess it to God. There is tremendous power when we agree with Him and admit that it's wrong. Say, "Lord, I know that temptation is trying to get in the way. I want to choose my sinful desires over you in this moment, but I'm choosing You instead." Search for verses about sin and temptation (study the life of David...that's a great place to start). Use those verses in the times of temptation or the moments of failure. Speak life and truth to your mind.
I can't remember where I first heard this statement, but it's a good one: "You have to boss your mind." You have to choose to tell it what to do, or it will tell you what to do.
Just as you order the junk drawer and create calm where chaos once reigned, so you do in your mind. Boss your mind and tell it what it gets to think.
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
Philippians 4:8 NLT
*Do you want a relationship with God but don't know where to start? Send me a message. I'd love to talk to you!
Photo: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash