Thursday, October 29, 2015

perfectionism and comparison...

I'll be honest.  This post might come across as somewhat snarky and raw.  I usually try to be so careful and measured in my words, but today it's just going to blurt itself out, and I'm gonna try not to worry so much about how it will be received as you read it.

I've had alot on my mind lately.  And until today, I didn't know how to put it all into words until Marc  mentioned a sermon he'd read yesterday.  In it, it said something about the two biggest sins women tend to struggle with (on a whole) are perfectionism and comparison.

And as soon as he said that, it put words onto tensions I've been internally fighting without even realizing it.

Perfectionism and comparison.

That's pretty much my life.

I've been thinking how I take my cues in womanhood from comparing myself to others.  I'm not like these women, I'm not like these other women.  Without intending to, I've created an ideal for myself, and I'm tormented by the ways I'm "failing" this ideal and the guilt and shame it causes me.

For some weird reason, it all surfaces for me in women's Bible studies.  I can hardly do them.  Maybe this is just what I've experienced, and it isn't true everywhere.  But I struggle with comparison the minute I hit the door and the house is perfectly cleaned and freshly-baked, gluten free, dairy free, organic, paleo-approved cookies are waiting for me.  (of course I've exaggerated, but do you get the idea?)

All the ladies, including me, are seemingly put together on the outside, and for the next hour and a half we'll talk about spiritual things to encourage one another... and share all of our childbirth stories, I might add.  (As an infertile woman, I honestly don't get why this subject has to come up so often in groups of women.)  The conversation rarely breaks down beyond the mask of smiles and nice platitudes.  It often doesn't touch the mess of my life.  The mess that's strewn across my living room floor.  The mess that's residing and multiplying in my heart, even in the moment!

I'm realizing there are just so many barriers (aka perfectionism and comparison) that keep me from feeling free to be myself.  I feel different from other Christian women around me. (I've got a bald daughter and a black son through adoption.  Isn't that alone enough to make me feel different?)  And it keeps me from entering into real relationships.

I'm grateful I've had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom.  For many women, there's no other option financially.  But lemme tell you, it's harder than anything I've done.  It tests me in ways I never knew it would.  I'm afraid to even type it because of the overwhelming guilt I feel to admit it, but I'm not enjoying it right now.  Whew.  That was really hard to admit.

I guess I want to be some kind of Supermom.

And, sinfully, I want you to think I'm a Supermom, too.

I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids.

But I'm struggling to like the stay-at-home mom-thing right now.

We've been having some issues with Caroline finishing her work at school in two minutes flat.  She's reading on the level of a fifth or sixth grader in second grade.  I'm working with her teacher on ways to supplement and enrich her education while the other kids are completing their assignments, especially since we're paying for private school.  It's made me briefly consider the option of homeschooling in recent weeks, (this is where all the homeschooling moms yell "YES!  DO HOMESCHOOL!") YET it has more than confirmed I am not a homeschooling mom.  (Can I please say I have mad respect for those of you who do?  You are amazing and I have no idea how you do it.  And enjoy it.)

But that's not who I am.  And I can't do it.  ("Yes you can, Amy!" you say.)  
I can't.

In the Christian community, I feel shameful even admitting these things.  I'm sure every mom goes through times just like this.  I feel like I lose points in the comparison game if I'm not staying home.  And making homemade play dough for my kids.  And filling their bellies with perfectly nutritious meals and snacks with a smile on my face each day.  Do you get what I'm saying?

Every woman makes choices for her family, and I happen to think what's "best" doesn't always look the same in every family.  But I've obviously gotten some kind of ideal standard in my own head that I myself am not even able to live up to!

Is this the guilt that working moms feel?  Maybe I'm actually a working mom in the body of a stay-at-home mom...

I think I need to preach to myself the freedom of the Gospel.

I need to remember that Jesus adopted me as His daughter, and His love for me and His approval of me doesn't depend upon me being Supermom.  It doesn't mean I have to stay home or I have to homeschool.  It doesn't mean I have to lose ten pounds or keep my house tidy.  

His approval is worth FAR more than anyone else's.  Even my own.

1 comment:

  1. Whoo yeah! I feel you on this! Good thoughts and as always I appreciate your honest reflections. I would love to be able to come over and hang out and talk through all these things, nod our heads knowingly, and raise a glass to our Jesus who knows our frailties. 2 new-to-me expressions have entered my linguistic world in the last year: 1. Comparison is the thief of joy 2. There is no comparison without injury. Walk in liberty, dear friend!