One of my favorite things to do is People Watch. I get an odd sense of comfort and satisfaction when I can just watch people go about their daily lives. That sounds totally weird, and if it is ACTUALLY weird, I will totally embrace that. Because I love it.
So much of our identities are tied up with how other people see us. Or rather… how WE think other people see us. We try so hard to hit the status quo, which, spoiler alert, is ALWAYS changing. And still we struggle to run this way when we that’s what the Accepted Thing To Do is, and then about face and hustle towards the other wall when the tides change. We KILL ourselves repeatedly, every day, to appear to be on the Right Side, doing the Right Thing, with the Right Attitude. It’s not only exhausting to do, but exhausting to watch.
I’ve been thinking about my own Identity a lot lately. What is it… what do I want people to see, what do I THINK people already see, what should I see when I look in the mirror. That’s always a hard question for me (and I am going to go out on a limb and say maybe it is for you as well). What I THINK I present sometimes is not in line with what Other People see, and that gray area, that missing link, can cause trouble. It’s those awkward times when intention does not line up with action, or action does not line up with Actual Help. And then I am left scrambling to hold up a crumbling sand castle, trying desperately to maintain some type of Shape and Value.
Let me just say this. I am not a sand castle. I am not pretty (talking about mental and spiritual things here—no need for any pats on my back about my lustrous hair and gorgeous ever changing eyes). I am a pile of sand that sometimes gets stepped on, sometimes gets rolled over by the tide, and sometimes gets smooshed by well-meaning Toddlers.
I want so very much to be seen as a Great Mom. Or a Great Wife. Or a Great Business Entrepreneur. Or a Great Christian. Or a GREAT HUMAN. And those are great things to strive for, right… nothing wrong with being those things. But the problem lies in those times that I fail. Man, I fail SO HARD sometimes. Ok, a LOT of times. My temper is on a short string, and I am really good at using my business as a means of escape from my life as a mom and a wife. I am pretty sure that, according to my facebook feed and society at large, I am supposed to be able to juggle and balance all of these things, and be really good at it, and still be super excited to be a human jungle gym by the end of the day, because CHERISH EVERY MOMENT, YO. I have been told that I can build a successful business and Live The Dream and also have you considered home schooling because your kids should be top priority. But also have you done your devotional today because self care is SUPER IMPORTANT and also that’s great that you love yourself but you might love yourself more if you go down a few sizes because your body is A TEMPLE. And while you are thinking about that, your marriage needs to be the thing you work on first so after you run your business and fulfill your kids dreams and do your workout and plan that meal that has no high fructose corn syrup or wheat or dairy or sugar or taste, you need to be ready to GO once the kids are in bed because otherwise you are neglecting your spouse. And also, remember that you need at least 8 hours of sleep cause you are the example for your kids! Don’t mess it up!
So have fun with that!
It is exhausting to be a Great anything. So. Freaking. Exhausting. And if it were doable, maybe it would be worth the sweat. But it’s not. At all. You will fail. I fail. Every day. At every aspect. There is no way to keep that going. And when that failure comes, we blame ourselves, instead of the system. We blame our shortcomings, instead of the impossible standards. We have decided that we are at the helm of our ship, and when it crashes on the rocks, there is no one to blame but us.
But…. And this should come as a comfort, though I am guessing at least for a few of you, it will not seem like it… you are not the captain of your ship. You have been told that you can do anything, if only you put your whole self into it. That is a lie. You have been told that you are the maker of your own destiny, and if you find yourself broke and in a crumbling marriage, you are, by way of necessary logical follow-up, to blame. You have been told that there is one way to love your children, and if that is at odds with your personality or your means, then there is no way you can ever be right. And you are then not only to blame for your own circumstances, but your children’s as well.
You cannot win. You will never be great.
Should I end there… I mean… I was going for Uplifting… and I think I nailed it.
But that’s not the end.
Because that is not who we are.
What if, instead of finding our identity with our inability to keep up with society, we find it in a God that is Love, that is Mercy, that is Steadfast. What if we decide that we will no longer strive to be seen as a Great Mom… or a Great Wife… or a Great anything…. And instead strive to line our selves up with the truth that we were created as unique souls, put where we are to bless who we can. What if we embrace that we do not steer this ship, but that the God of the Universe does, and we decide to trust that the journey he has put us on is one where, if we look hard enough, we can find love, mercy, forgiveness. What if we stop trying to force our community to see US, and instead let the reflection of that Perfect Love allow them to see themselves with the same grace. And what if we understood the power there is in our powerlessness. You are not Big enough to mess up God’s plans for you. You are not Strong enough to sink your ship. You are not Smart enough to outmaneuver his Mercy.
Stop trying to grab the wheel of your ship. You already have an identity. It was breathed into you the moment you were conceived. It was protected, despite everything you have done, or has been done to you. It’s there, waiting. It was spoken with words that have stood unchanged for thousands of years. Rest in that stillness. Rest in that silence. Rest in that power.
Stop chasing what can’t be caught, and rest in what has already been bought.