I’ve had a rough and wonderful week. The two are mutually exclusive I assure you. The beginning of the week brought good times with good friends followed by sick babies and endless to do lists. Mid-week brought a fabulous evening celebrating my anniversary with my love (and no babies…thank goodness for Nanas and babysitting).
Then the babies shared, as thoughtful children so often do, and I caught the bug. Hooray! So I’ve spent the latter part of the week, attempting to maintain sanity and restore health to myself, my older kiddos and now the baby man, who incidentally has taken “runny nose” to be code for “bite mama hard every time she nurses you.”
This morning, I’m up early, drinking coffee between coughs and bites and thinking. There is a certain amount of wisdom that soaks in to the porous mind of a woman in time. None of the wise things I’m thinking have much to do with illness and anniversaries but who can explain how the mind works?
I’ve decided to share some things I’ve learned over the years with you. most of them, I’m sure you already know. Sometimes a reminder is all we need.
1. Feeling bad isn’t always a bad thing.
We have convinced ourselves that we should always feel great and that is a lie. Bad feelings about ones actions can serve to motivate change. The delusion that everything should always be rosy, we should always be happy and free and feel great about us, has caused many addicts and narcissists to remain stuck in a cycle of trying to feel better all the time. What if instead of seeking to feel better, we used the bad feelings to learn and grow and accepted our failings for what they are…part of life, things we will more than likely struggle with again and things that in time we will master if we give ourselves a break and stop trying to be perfect and feel great perpetually? It’s okay to feel bad, brush it off and move on.
2. Achieving someone else’s standard of beauty will never make you feel beautiful.
I’ve been there, the crazy eating habits, the excessive exercise. The constant worry that your rear section is too large while your top section is too small. The truth is, a woman’s body changes over the course of her life. Babies, marriage, job changes which bring schedule changes, stress, all of these things will cause body changes. Quit beating yourself up for every imperfection. The only beauty standard that matters is God’s standard. He asks us to take care of our bodies, but that doesn’t mean starve them or make them look like cookie cutter portrayals of what a woman “should” be. That standard will always change with the whim of cultural perception. If you’re seeking affirmation from a man, you won’t ever find beauty.
The bills will get paid, the dishes will get done, the floor will get vacuumed, the kids will grow. You will manage to accomplish everything on that list eventually. In the meantime, chill out and enjoy the ride.
Odds are, you won’t look back and think about the dishes you left in the sink till morning, but you will look back and think about whether or not you played Barbies with your daughters long enough or the times you could have danced around the living room or thrown a ball for ten minutes with your son. When you blink, they are 16, the Barbie dolls are long gone and you’ve missed the chance. Savor the moments now!
4. Anyone who demands perfection from you, isn’t worth your attention, even if it’s you.
The bible say we press on toward the mark, the high calling. We are supposed to keep trying…to get back up when we fall down. Maybe we should try to do what Jesus did, and give grace to ourselves and others when we or they don’t get it right every time.
5. The only way to fail is to quit trying.
When we keep going, we get better. Practice makes perfect” or more realistically, “practice helps us improve exponentially based on the amount of effort we apply and our innate gifting a and abilities.” You can’t phone in a practice. You have to want it, and go for it. If you do, you will probably encounter a few epic speed bumps along the way. They may make you question yourself and whether you are capable. Get up! Keep trying. It will get better. Trust me.
I’ve been singing for years. I’ve fallen off the stage. I’ve hit myself in the mouth with the microphone and bloodied my lip while performing. I’ve forgotten lyrics. I’ve forgotten the melody. I’ve started the band out at completely the wrong tempo and had to stop the song and restart it again. I once, accidentally, led an entire choir in a stirring rendition of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” to the tune of “Deck the Halls”. Everybody went with it until we hit the “fa-la-la-la-la’s”. Does that make me a failure as an artist? No! I’m still up there going for it. And I’m not too shabby at it and I’m not playing the false humility game that would encourage me to denounce that realization.
Keep trying at whatever it is. You are the best you there is. Give yourself a break and enjoy the journey.