Just the other day, I sat across the table from my dear friend, telling her “I’m overwhelmed and I don’t even know why.” Honestly, I just couldn’t put my finger on anything exactly. In my mind, I should be doing just fine…but in reality, I knew that was not the case. Well, you know after you talk about something, it’s in the forefront of your mind, so I just kept thinking about it as I drove my little kiddos to the library, praying that God would help me deal with all of my anxiety. And, do you know what I realized in a God-given “aha” moment?! I realized this: I need to majorly scale back on reading other blogs because they have given me unrealistic expectations for my own life.
The blogosphere is made up of all kinds of unique and wonderful people…many of whom I enjoy tremendously. However, it is rare to find those who truly open up about their lives. Most people paint a rosy picture, display amazing photos, and come across as all-together perfect. And then when said “all-together perfect people” say you need to do as they do and follow rules A, B, C, and D in order to:
- Have your husband adore you and be pleased with you
- Have the perfect marriage
- Have properly behaved, well-rounded, smart children
- Have a meticulous home that runs like a well-oiled machine
- Have the most gracious and hospitable home in the neighborhood
- Have décor like Martha Stewart and cook like Paula Deen
Um…IT GETS OVERWHELMING AND QUITE FRANKLY, I CAN’T DO IT ALL!!!!!!!!!!!
Phew. Excuse me…I needed to just get that out:)
Seriously, I KNOW that’s not the intent of most bloggers, but really, if you click on a lot of them, the message that comes across is just another “YOU SHOULD”. And you know what God showed me that day…
He never put any of that on me.
I was putting it on myself and then feeling “less than” because I couldn’t keep up with ALL OF THE STANDARDS I took from other people.
God brings true peace into a life and into a home…nothing else can. And He says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He never puts anything on us that is overwhelming to the point of causing the kind of anxiety I was experiencing. That stuff I was clinging to was not of Him!
In this case, I was reading too many blogs, but at other times, I have left conversations with other people feeling like I had to DO WHAT THEY WERE DOING in order to “do better, be better, feel better”. This trap can happen through watching too many home remodeling shows, or reading too many magazines/self-help books, or even by reading a status update on a social media site where another woman declares, “I’ve done 10 loads of laundry today, baked fresh bread, exercised for an hour, cleaned out the car, homeschooled all five children, and made plans for a romantic dinner with my spouse this evening.” (Usually when I read such things, I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet that day and end up feeling lower than low.)
I asked a few of my friends to send me some examples of what causes them to be overwhelmed. Here’s just a glimpse of what I got back:
"I feel most overwhelmed when I have too much on my plate and try to be super child of God, super wife, super mom, super daughter, and super friend."
"I don't feel like I'm ever enough - my house isn't pretty enough, clean enough, up-to-date enough. I don't feel like I'm enough as a person, either."
"It's overwhelming to me to try to do everything that I 'think' I 'should' be doing and feeling I get it all wrong... ALL the time. I feel overwhelmed with the idea of how hard marriage is, how much work it takes on a constant basis. I feel overwhelmed with trying to be the Godly wife that I'm 'supposed' to be and the reality of the selfish wife that I truly am. I get overwhelmed when I look at other women's marriages who seem to have it all together and a 'perfect' marriage, and wonder why mine doesn't look like that all the time?"
"I get overwhelmed when I think of all the typical 'wife' things that need to be done and I'm just so dadgum tired (and busy) to keep up (you know... laundry... dishes... chores... grocery shopping... meal prep... etc... etc... etc...)"
"I would say one of the biggest things that makes me most overwhelmed is when I start thinking of how big of an impact my every single action and word is having a HUGE impact on the future lives of my children. I get overwhelmed at the thought that I am investing in the future generations of my family."
Heavy stuff, huh?!
In examining my own feelings as well as those of my friends, I realized that…one, it is sad how extremely hard we are on ourselves, and…two, whether we realize it or not, we use other people’s lives as our measuring stick! But, who really has a perfect marriage? Who really keeps a perfect house? Who really has perfect kids? Who really cooks like Paula Deen and decorates like Martha Stewart? More importantly, WHO is it that makes us think that everyone else does and then beats us down with guilt when we realize that we don’t??? It’s not God, I can tell you that.
Let me close with a story that I feel will help:
I was a new mom. My baby girl was maybe four weeks old at the time. In preparation for becoming a mother, I had read book after book after book about my new job and this one particular day, I was working diligently on getting my baby girl on a schedule. Wouldn’t you know it, she just didn’t want to cooperate with my plan! Actually, she had not cooperated in a few days and finally, I was at my wits end. So I did what all new mommies do in a pinch…I called my own mom. The baby was crying…I was crying…and I remember telling my mom, “I am doing everything the book says to do and it’s just not working!” My precious and amazingly-wise mother calmly said, “Becky, God has given you all you need as a mother. You throw that book out the window and listen to how HE is telling you to take care of your baby. You’ll know what to do.” Seriously, that’s the best advice on mothering I have ever received!!! And my mom was right on target. As soon as she said it, I knew that’s what I needed to do and it was like she gave me validation to trust what I was hearing from the Lord.
So ladies, here is your validation...
God has given us all that we need as a wife, mom, woman, friend, etc. As a Christian, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Don’t take that lightly!!! HE WANTS TO BE THE ONE TO SHOW US the path of peace in our individual lives! We need to pay less attention to each others standards of who we should or should not be and more attention to what HE expects…in our homes…in our marriages…in our relationships with our kids…in every detail of our lives. Our Father wants to show us the best way…His way! Taking the time to listen to that still small voice He gives all of us will work, every time.
Yes, I believe God uses others as iron sharpens iron in our lives. It’s great to be surrounded by others who challenge us. But when we use their standards as our judge, we have set them up as an idol in our lives…period. As a Christian, you and I must seek less to please an audience of many and more to please an audience of ONE…the only One who can bring order and peace into our lives.
This verse out of "The Message" speaks volumes:
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me -- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30
May we all walk closely with you, Lord. Teach us the unforced rhythms of Your amazing grace! May we walk in Your freedom...learning daily to live freely and lightly...trusting in Your voice above every other!