Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why I stopped trying to do life right

I've never been a perfectionist. Ever.  I have always been 100% completely and entirely okay with not being great at something.  I like to do things well, and I try to do them better, but I've never been concerned with total accuracy.

Then I got married.

I was such a stressed out little wife trying to do everything I was supposed to do.  Proverbs 31 overwhelmed me.  Books left me feeling like I had already failed even before our wedding day. I read one book that left me in tears - repeatedly - because it said a good wife will make sure there are always batteries and light bulbs stocked in the closet. My desk light had burned out that morning, I think, and I had no replacement, and batteries had been on my list for a month.  What kind of wife was I going to be?! My husband couldn't even rely on my for the household "essentials". How could he rely on me to be his life partner? (Ironically, that book has become one of my favorites on marriage...ah, maturity.)

Things evened out after a while. My husband gave me so much encouragement.  I talked to wise women.  I found a groove.  I learned to prioritize.  I learned to let go (please, no Frozen interludes here).  I prayed - a lot.  God's grace was so good, mercies new every morning, all that jazz.  He surrounded me with great friends who were also striving to be good wives.

Then I had kids.

There is a dark, sick, mothering subculture that is determined to drive each and every one of us into the ground.  And for people like me, who start out already feeling like I'm failing, it is not a far fall.

Do this.
Don't do this.
If you do this, you are a good mom.
If you do this, your kids will be Christians.
If you don't do this, your kids will be Satanists.
If you have this bedtime, your kids will be well-adjusted.
If you let them eat this, your kids will have a YouTube channel.
Have them in at least 4 sports by the time they're 2.
Don't ever put them in organized sports. Ever.
You owe your kids this.
You owe yourself that.
Oh, and your husband. He doesn't really matter until the kids are gone.
But you still need to be his all and everything. And look good. And wear yoga pants.
But don't dress immodestly.
And nurse them until they're four.

I was drowning.  Gah, I just want to be a good mommy.  I want to love my kids.  I want them to love the Lord.  I want them to care about other people. I want our family to be a light of hope in a dark and doomed world.

And I was doing it all wrong.  And partly wrong.  And kind of right.  And I spiraled.

Then I had that kind of moment where God was like, "look at me," and I was all like, "I'm looking at you," and God's all like, "no, at ME." (My 2-year-old does this.  "Desh, look at my eyes." [face toward me but eyes to the side] "Huh?" "Jeshua, look at me." [eyes to the other side] "Huh?")

So I finally looked at God. I sat. I was quiet. I didn't have a parenting book.  I shushed the blogging voices.  I quieted my own doubtful voice. And you know what God said?

"Look at me more."

And it donned on me.  The only "right" is in Christ. And all of these authors and bloggers and friends and church moms - as well-intentioned as they are - aren't "right".

So I gave myself the grace that God was already giving me.  I narrowed my focus.  I learned to glean from books rather than adhere to books. I started trusting Scripture over anything else. And I have a motto now.

"Abby, stop trying to do it right, and just do it well."

If it says to do it in the Bible, do it. If it says not to, don't. If it doesn't say, seek wisdom.  Pray. Ask wise people. And don't stress out. Look at Him. And maybe try to enjoy it instead of trying to get it right.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."
                        ~Galatians 1:10

*I just remembered this post I wrote over 8 years ago about letting God lead the dance.  I think it still fits. And clearly I'm still learning.