It’s funny, this being an adult business. It is SO much harder than I thought it would be.
Not really the actual parenting – my girls are blessedly easy most of the time if I am honest – but the mental pressure I put myself under. Pressure to get it all right all the time. Pressure to be everywhere and do everything. Balancing work and home, mother and wife, church commitments, school activities – most of us are the same.
The truth is, that drive for perfectionism has probably always been there. I’ve always been that girl who wants to get it right. To do well. To excel. To achieve.
And there’s nothing wrong with that – nothing at all.
Except sometimes, that desire to be all and do all and get it right grows in your heart until the beauty and the joy of everyday life gets buried under mountains of our own making. Stress. Striving. Impossibly high standards. A manic schedule.
Sometimes heartbreak comes and changes us and we can’t see a way back to the person we used to be. It hurts those around us and so we add disappointment with ourselves to the grief and trauma and it nearly kills us.
You see, sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. Heaping judgement on ourselves for not being able to do all and be all, all the time. When what we really need is to know that we are loved and that we will never get it all right and that is OK.
The song says that Love is all you need.
But I think that sometimes, really it’s GRACE.
Grace for the hard days. When your kids are driving you crazy and you’ve lost your temper more times than you care to remember.
Grace when seas swirl and trouble comes and you can’t seem to dig deep enough to handle it in the way you wish you could. As you know you should.
Grace when your heart is breaking and you lash out and hurt those closest to you because you’re hurting and why can’t anyone see that I am falling apart in here?
Grace for the times when it’s you that is your own harshest critic. When you can’t forgive yourself for letting ‘you’ down. Again.
What a beautiful word.
The gift of something undeserved, unmerited, unearned.
Not because I am good enough, or pretty enough. Not because dinner is on the table at 6 o’clock every night and the children are perfectly behaved at all times and I have attended every school event and church meeting and been to the gym 3 times this week. Not because I am working hard and achieving my goals and climbing the ladder.
Who doesn’t want that?
Want to be accepted – no, more than accepted, treasured, loved, adored – not aside from our bad bits and failings and weaknesses but in spite of them.
Who doesn’t want some-one to look into the deepest parts of their souls and to see the blackest, darkest parts that we can barely even acknowledge, and then wrap us in total, unconditional love anyway?
To hear them whisper “It’s OK. You’re OK, I love you, it doesn’t matter. Come on, get up. Try again – you can do it”. Like we do to our own kids when they fall over, or mess up.
And that’s what I am learning. The ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ (The Message Bible, Matt 6:28) that bring peace and rest to my soul. The total love and acceptance that let me stand arms wide open and breathe deep.
That even when I can’t forgive myself, some-one else can. And does. And that really, that is all I need.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The Bible, Matthew 11:28-29
“My grace is sufficient for you, my mercies new every morning” The Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Lamentations 3:23