I can't go on Pinterest any more. It stresses me beyond belief. I see all these "easy, DIY" projects that I "pin", then go buy the materials for, then they sit half done in a closet. I even had to ask someone what DIY meant because I thought it was a company! Does anyone's house really look like the ones on Pinterest? If yours does, I can not come visit you. I can only go visit people who have crumbs on their table, dishes in the sink, and mismatched decor! :)
I read an article about feeling the need to 'keep up with the Jones's' in the mom world. Pinning, couponing, parenting the best, dressing our kids in adorable outfits, homeschooling while doing 40 loads of laundry or being the room mom every year and sending in the best cupcakes, super mom in heels and a dress while working full-time...
We look in disbelief at Susie "Homemaker" who bakes all her own bread while raising 12 kids who all say "yes ma'am" or Joni "Works Full-Time" who has a perfect house and coaches all 5 of her kids sports teams. And we wonder how they do it. And why can't we.
Now, to add that insanity "Attachment Parenting". Seriously? Like I want my child "attached" to me. I want to raise children who one day want to go out into the world and be the salt and the light. They start sleeping with me now and what happens when they're 17? Frankly my bedroom is my sanctuary and I love that my kids go to be somewhere else. I love them but I love my peaceful place where I can read until 1 am and sleep without getting whacked in the mouth (Tony only rarely does that!).
You know I've never had to make the choice to breast feed/formula, cloth/disposable diapers, and the tons of other things parents of infants have to choose, because my kids were past that when we adopted them. But we've had to make (and defend) other choices: Preschool versus home daycare versus stay at home mom. Dietary choices (we don't eat sugar 95% of the time so most of the free world thinks we're nuts right there). Then there's the schooling choice...public school, private school, home school, unschool...critics abound. Judgement surrounds. No matter which one seems right to you, there is someone judging if it was the right choice and we are feeling guilty for not doing "enough", whatever that is.
Can't we keep the house clean while doing all the other 50 things expected of us in a day? Just drink more coffee, you can do it! I look down at my floor that needs mopping over my sweat shirt with coffee and applesauce stains and wonder why I'm exhausted when I haven't left the house today! I go to the park and marvel at the mom in her cute outfit, who obviously works out AND had time (and forethought) to apply make up, while I'm wearing a jogging suit for the 15th day in a row, not because I just came from the gym, but because the elastic waist is comfy!
We watch the children at the park and judge our parenting based on the best behaved kids there. Little Mary Jane plays like a lady, doesn't scuff her patent-leather shoes, and still has her bow in her hair when she goes home. My 3 year old has pulled one pig-tail out before we even get to the park and we can't find her shoe in the car. Little Johnny runs and plays nicely, sticks up for the little guy, and NEVER argues when mom says, "Time to go!". Ever had your child hole up in the top of the slide and blow a raspberry at you when you say that phrase? Lots of fun!
We judge ourselves when the other ladies we talk with at church talk about their "walk" and you realize that they get up at 5 am every day to read the Bible and spend an hour with God. You were happy to get a 5 minute prayer in while you showered and that you read 2 pages of the chapter for your small group book study. You swallow and decide you need friends with less ambition about them. Or more reality!
Our husbands judge their value by how well they provide for their family. Compared to Joe down the street. Compared to a brother or dad. They look at the neighbor's yard and judge the greenness of their grass as better than their own. They look at their car, size of the house, career path....
Is that not what we all do? Judge ourselves by our neighbor's measuring stick? We judge others we see as less by looking down at them. And we judge ourselves by those we see as better than us.
I recently had someone tell me that they stay away from people who others lift up and praise. At first they it sounded like they had disdain but as we talk further, we both realized it was an insecurity that kept me from speaking to or even developing friendships with those people. Someone who could be a huge influence in our lives, we avoid out of fear of being judged. Exposed.
I think it might be time for us to ask God for His eyes when we look at those people around us. Then I think our judgement yardstick would be turned upside down. The mother whose house looks perfect, children act perfect, who we think is perfect, is dealing with a struggling marriage or a prodigal teenager. The father with the perfect lawn is escaping from an overwhelming problem at work or an seriously ill family member. The jet setting single whose lifestyle we envy, laments that they may never find a soul mate to share their life with, or children to love beyond belief. The strong couple whose kids are the delight of their lives have an estranged parent or one of them has gotten a cancer diagnosis.
We have no idea of the challenges others around us are holding in their hearts. We're too busy seeing the outside. Looking each other over to see how everyone else is more perfect than us so we'd better shore up our wall around us. Got to buff up the image of perfection.
But what about Christ's image? Do we look for His image in those around us? Look in their eyes, not at their clothes? Do we buff up His image in and on us so others see His love for them reflected? Pull down the wall and let others see we aren't perfect but we are loved, just as they are?
Not an easy thing. To put aside our fears and doubts and love others as Christ loves us. Sacrifice our pride as He sacrificed His life, maybe. I hope that if you see me looking dressed up, on the one day that I have to be dressed up for something, that you will look past the ironed clothes into my heart and see that I think you are precious. That when I look at you, I see a creation that God lovingly planned and sculpted long before he created the foundations of the earth. And if you see me nervously approaching some perfectly manicured, in shape, woman who is dressed like she just stepped out of a magazine, know that I am hoping she will see my heart for her and ignore the stains on my jogging suit!
Be blessed and know that you are loved.