This week the #wholemama community are thinking about Shalom (wholeness) and space, and it’s got me thinking about having space to be the reality of me, without feeling the constant pressure to be who I think I should be.
Spoiler Alert : The real me doesn’t have it together. Today. At all. And I am giving myself permission in this space to claim it, sit with it, write about it and be really really comfortable with it. Feel free to step away now.
Here’s what I think I’m supposed to think is true:
- At my age and stage in life I should do the right things in the right order on the right days.
- I should find myself able to focus on the important instead of the urgent.
- I should not spend minutes (hours) of my ever decreasing days on time wasting.
- I should know better than to engage in emotionally self harming activities.
- I should be able to keep a house tidy, laundry up to date, provide healthy, nutritious meals for my family and myself, and read books which add depth and richness to life.
- I shouldn’t run out of essentials like dog food.
- I should have instilled daily bible reading and prayer habits in my children, we should never have overdue library books and I should be able to keep on top of my work and stop my youngest from watching quite so many cartoons.
- I should never have emotionally fragile days when I find my mind wandering to the wrong places far too often.
- I should always feel love for my husband and miss him all the time we’re apart.
It NEVER looks like that for me. At least not on one single day.
The reality of today (and many days) is that I’m feeling sad and tired and when I’m feeling sad and tired I’m liable to time waste, emotionally self harm, eat too much, fail to be productive, avoid tidying up, avoid cooking impressively, and engage rather badly with my family. Instead of remembering the millions of fantastic, wonderful things about my husband I find my mind a bit of a blank about him and full of wistful (and utterly misplaced) thoughts about the other.
However the reality of today does not end there (although even if it did that would be ok). Everyone has eaten food that was neither out of date nor mouldy nor just chocolate for two meals so far (and we’ve discovered the dog really loves pasta). We thought up band names that made us all laugh. We took our dog swimming. I’ve kept my mommy anxiety in check sufficiently to let my oldest who’s not so well go off independently for the day with friends. I paid my middle child to play with the youngest while I did some work, and the result is that they have had a really good couple of hours together because actually they get on really well together when no alternative arrangement is on offer, and I got my work finished.
One of the biggest things God has revealed to me about myself through all the mess of the past couple of years, is that I don’t have to get it all right all of the time for myself, or the things I do, to have value.
In fact I get most of it wrong most of the time, and I still have value and I still do things of value.
That is grace. That is the gospel. That is God’s love.
So instead of beating myself up about all the things I didn’t do today, and all the things I did which I shouldn’t have done, and all those damn feelings that weigh me down and pull me apart and try to trick me into thinking I don’t love my husband enough, I am remembering the words I read yesterday from Shauna Niequist’s book ‘Savor’ (which I won in a #wholemama instagram moment)
‘when I calm down and listen very closely God says,
“I didn’t ask you to become new and improved today. That wasn’t the goal. You were broken down and strange yesterday, and you still are today, and the only one freaked out about it is you.”
So today, I’m choosing not to be freaked out by my broken down strangeness,
and I hope you won’t be too upset by yours either….