Ironically, with Matt's schedule lately, it's been endless days of "if I can just get through one more day..."
At points, I recognize survival is the only goal for the day, the week and often, the month. Get through it. Meals, clothing, tidy house, school work, few social obligations.... do it all over again. It can feel mind-numbing and often incredibly isolating. The monotonous day in and day out of a noble motherhood experience, and yet... there is always someone, somewhere telling me I should be doing more.
This is a trap; the feeling of needing to do more. I fall into it daily.
I'm told I should be doing more situps to achieve that flat stomach. I should be doing more meditation to give the world more of an open heart. I should be reading the Bible more often, to enrich my spirit. I should be praying for my husband, my child, my family, my friends, my pastor, my neighbors, my church, my kids' friends, their families.... I should be eating healthier food. I should be reading more self-help books. I should be reading more fiction! Dangit, I should start a book club. I should go for a run, because nothing is healthier than a strong heart and cellulite-free thighs. I should be participating in a women's club.
This is just the tip of the iceburg... I could name 100 more things I should be doing as a mother, a teacher, a wife and as a friend. The list often feels endless.
If I'm being honest, I've attempted to imagine accomplishing all of those things I'm told are good, and right and noble. Daily, I beat myself up for not completing my mental to-do list and monthly I recount all the failures I've stacked against myself. Annually, I look back and see only the "important" things I didn't do... the goals I didn't achieve.
This horribly destructive pattern is tearing me apart, and I can bet I'm not the only one out there trying to keep up.
What if I laid down all the stuff that doesn't really matter? What if I focused on the things that do matter? Stuff like, playing with my kid and laughing with my husband. Creating wholesome meals that are tried and true...nothing fancy or over-the-top expensive. What if I focused on my child's character building through relationship, instead of pushing memory verses on him daily? What if I accepted myself the way I am, and then learned to love myself... instead of believing I should be firmer, thinner, prettier...smarter?
Sigh... deep breaths and let's take a minute to think about all the expectations we set for ourselves.... and then imagine how many of those expectations really matter to us. Like, REALLY matter.
I am trying to let go of all the obligitory expectations (it's a slow process, mind you), and as I do so I am realizing it becomes easier for me to see evidence of the things I am doing right. Clearing the air allows me to see where my real values lie... and then, in turn, I am able to invest in those things that matter to me the most. Ignoring the expecations the world dumps in my lap, gives me head space to foster and nurture the values we hold most dear to in our own family.
It's a daily battle to simplify, especially when I've been in my head for years. Trying to be better is often a trap that is measured against the impossible, and though it is noble and right to want to improve on ourselves, we have to accept that we can only do so much.
Instead of keeping up, I'd like to thrive. If thriving means only doing a few things a day or setting smalls goals that are truly acheivable for the time of life I'm in, then I'm on board. I'm tired of feeling like I'm not enough, I'm not accomplishing enough, and I'm not good enough. At the end of the day, we're all enough. We have only ourselves to give... and that, my friends is enough.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. This is not from yourselves, but a gift from God; not by works, so that no one can boast.