I love my life & I so adore my kids. And also I think about joining the witness protection program and running away from it all at least once a day.
I posted this last week. So many people commented or messaged me that they have or do feel that way too. It did not feel brave at the time because I am pretty constantly an oversharer but something resonated about a post- gym, unwashed hair, sweaty selfie with a screaming toddler in the back seat. Because I am not alone.
In this faux world we have created where we share our best images and our short witty stories in less than 140 characters there is not the space for the *. I am guilty of it too. I post a family picture but let’s be real the * that comes with that image might go something like this…..
*this photo taken after convincing (ok bribing) all children to look and smile-ish. You see the smiles but not the fights, tears, endless nagging I have to do to just get these people TO JUST PUT THEIR MOTHER LOVIN’ SHOES ON.
The * is important because it reminds us we are not the shiny people we pretend to be online. There is nothing wrong with wanting a great family photo and I actually help families create beautiful images where everyone looks fabulous! I just will not believe that is the full story. And I will not allow you to believe that about me either. As if this one dimensional image can speak about the depths of who we are and who we are becoming. The full story is actually more beautiful and more tragic and just MORE. And a lot of the time I am unable to even process it all. Kids and chaos abounds and chokes out my ability to actually have a complete thought most days. And even when nothing else competes for my attention I drown out the silence with media, noise, and doing. I am good at sucking it up and getting it done. And I don’t think I’m alone. As women we have become proficient at avoiding thinking about just how WE are doing. We answer the “Hey, how are you?” with “fine” or something about our kids if we are mamas and we move on. We SO want to be seen but also struggle to really SEE each other. We settle for the version that is absent of the * and so we think others don’t struggle the ways we do. But that is a lie. We all struggle, we all doubt ourselves, we mess up (like all the time). And friends, His grace covers it all.
I know we may not have time to tell our barista we are so overwhelmed we are thinking of locking ourselves in the bathroom the rest of the day or the lady that scans our groceries how deeply we struggle to deal with the loss in our life but I want to commit to being more vulnerable when and where I can create that space. To not allowing people to only see the shiny. The * might not accompany every image and every interaction but if I am really honest the * is always there friends. My * IS part of my life, not something to run or hide from. It is the complete picture of who I am and because I believe my Father is making all things new I can be honest. And free. And so can you. Because, friends, we are loved. Not because we perfectly craft our image but just simply because we are His beautiful creation. I can share my struggles and my weakness without shame or fear. Because in all the shinyness the real us loses the ability to breath. The air is too thin in perfect-ville for anyone to survive. And even if you did you will look around and realize that no one else is there with you.
This TED talk really spoke to me (listen to it!!). “Shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that if people see or know it I will not be worthy of connection? And the less you talk about it the more you have it.” Um, wow. Guilty. And the less we admit this is our fear the more that fear controls and motivates our actions. Her idea of “excruciating vulnerability” really spoke to me. People that are able to embrace vulnerability “had the courage to be imperfect” willing to let go of who we think we should be in order to be who we really are: a person in process. We do this by embracing vulnerability. Brene Brown said “shame needs 3 things to grow: silence, secrecy, and judgement.” But what kills shame is empathy. Empathy means we enter in with others. We see them in the muck and we say “me too.” I am processing what this means for me. Starting over so much has meant that I can recreate who I am in some ways. This can be exciting but also terribly lonely. There is a temptation to leave out the uglyness. So, here is the list I created about things people may not know about me because the shinyess can blind. And the process of writing this feels excruciating but freeing. In the same way posting my truth about some days I want to run away from my life felt; to know that I said it and many people said “me too.” Some of my shame died that day. And I’m going to kill more of it….
I want a great story but often don’t want to walk through the hard work and dying to self that allows that story to unfold.
I feel guilty that hours after our dear family said goodbye to their 3 year old son I wanted to scream at mine.
It is hard for me to really get to know people because I am afraid of having to say goodbye AGAIN to dear friends.
I surround myself with people but I feel really lonely a lot of the time.
When people say to me “I could never do it” about the 4 kids I tote everywhere I smile but think “I don’t think I can either.“
I eat my feelings too often. Old destructive habits with food die hard.
I have seen God do miracles. Like real healing, old school, Biblical miracles but still my faith is shaking and wavering some days.
I worry I am failing my family because I am so unorganized, I don’t bake, I’m so impatient, I suck at cleaning, I yell at my kids, I don’t follow through like I should, and I constantly am in a state of chaos.
I seek adventure because; in part, I worry that without it I will be inadequate.
I feel much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it because I still feel like I am that fat girl that was made fun in junior high and who hid behind crazy hair and baggy clothes for years.
When I’m stressed I take it out on my husband and when I feel misunderstood I push him away. I always shocked he is still here.
I still feel sadness about leaving Africa and don’t know to put words to explain the impact and imprint the people there have on my life. The loss and pain of re-entry and cultural shock is long lasting.
I spend way too much time worrying and managing what people think of me.
I affirm to others that being with children full time is an awesome and worthy decision but I struggle to believe that is true for me. I miss teaching and struggle to believe wiping butts and noses has any eternal value. This is mostly because I tend to believe I am worthy because of what I contribute, not who I am.
I’m a Do-er. I DO because sometimes the thinking is just too painful or difficult for me.
I give advice about parenting sometimes when I secretly worry I am making so many mistakes my kids will be in counseling for years.
I don’t ask for help because I’m such a poor planner I don’t even know I am overwhelmed until I AM.
When I feel exhausted I hide by scrolling through facebook rather than engaging with my kids.
I desperately love my husband but take him for granted many days and our marriage is an amazing blessing but also really hard work. We are so different and we hurt each other. We are both still learning to choose forgiveness again and again.
I may seem like I can take on the world but I struggle with panic and emotions that scare me some days.
I fight too hard sometimes because I’m afraid of people running over me or taking advantage. I act tough but it is because I am afraid that I will not be able to deal with their rejection.
I tend toward overachieving because I need to prove to myself and others that I am good enough which, as you might imagine, means I can really screw up my understanding and relationship with God who is only in the business of free grace.
I’ve spent time in counseling working through the sadness and anger I feel at having gone through two horrible pregnancies. I still struggle with resentment about that time in my life.
I use humor a lot to deflect from the worry I feel that people will reject the real me.
I struggle with contentment and trusting that God really is leading our family.
I cry so much. Like all the time and my emotions have kept me from really speaking my heart many times.
And there is not BUT at the end of this list. Just an AND. And I love my family and my kids. And I have gifts and talents. And I have experienced deep healing and amazing grace. And I am a work in progress. There are so many conflicting, competing thoughts and opinions on who we are supposed to be as women. It is suffocating to live under other’s expectations and at the same time too easy because comparing can make us feel superior or inferior. When I look to Jesus (the only one I am trying to imitate) I helplessly fall short but there IS the real good news. I do not feel shame about that because He did not come for the well. He did not come for the shiny people that have it all together. He came for the sick, for those that know they cannot get “it” together or keep “it” together. Heck I don’t even know what the “it” is when people say that. I can boost in my weakness because He is strong.
I am awakening more and more to the gift it is to be honest and vulnerable. I find the encouragement to keep going because I know the tribe of women whom become more beautiful because they are honest about the ugly is with me. And as we do this and unearth these treasures of healing and “me too” we break some of the power the enemy and the world has on us to perform, to pretend, and to lie.
“She took the leap and built her wings on the way down.” Kobi Yamada
Let us fly ladies. Let us embrace ALL of each other including the * because anything else is crippling and does not allow us to live fully into the truth. We are the only ones that can tell the real story God has given us to tell. I’ll remind you if you will remind me.