So, Who are We Trying to Impress?

2:20 PMHeather

Bear with me, folks.  My descent into mediocrity continues, along with my rally cry against success.  Okay, look.  Here's the deal.  I am NOT advocating some inferior, low achieving life style where we dance around and play the hokey pokey and strive for nothing.  Not at all.  Nope.  Rather, I am deconstructing the idea of success and how the world defines it.  How our culture defines it.  How we in turn absorb "their" definition and spin our wheels trying to attain it.  

When all along, it seems, we don't really even want to get in on that rat race.  Yet we do it.  And as we chug along like a gerbil on a wheel, we rail and rant and shout about how much we want to do differently.  Except for one thing.  We don't really do it differently.

We seem to hate the fast paced, keep up with the Joneses, celebrity and fame culture.  We seem to despise the unrealistic expectations of domestic perfection, endless youth, skinny and thin, and successful career standard our world sets for us.  Yet, we spend hours on Pinterest filling our minds with unattainable goals and countless recipes we will never have the time to complete.  Or the motivation.  And, yes, I am right there with you.  We devour magazines and books and television and media, being consumers of this crazy obsession with impressing others as Mrs. SuperMom of the Century.  While we groan and complain about how unrealistic it all is.  

Listen.  I've been standing back watching a strong and similar reaction to several events within the last week.  The reaction tells me that most of us are caught in some wildly dysfunctional cycle of striving.  We, Jesus loving women who want to be authentic, are caught up in a drama that we all seem to hate.  And, we don't seem to know how to rage against the machine and just stinking get out of the rat race.  Do you wonder how I've come to this conclusion?

Because Jen Hatmaker's blog about being the Worst End of School Year Mom Ever has struck a chord in all of us.  A-men, sister!  We all shout in affirmation.  Because finally someone is telling it like it is.  And letting us know, through complete transparency, that we are all tired and worn thin from trying to keep up appearances.  In fact, this blog post has gone so viral that it was featured on MSN and Mrs. Hatmaker appeared on The Today Show yesterday morning.  To be interviewed about how she is keeping it real.  While the audience all shook their heads in agreement about the lunacy of all that we are asked to do.

Hmmm.  Seems to me we all just need someone to take up our cause and be our voice and say, "ENOUGH!  This is who we are.  We can only do so much!  No more facades or unrealistic expectations!"  

And then, yesterday, I read a different blog post about 23 ways to stay sane with children?  It struck a chord in me, much like Jen Hatmaker's post, and I felt emotionally buoyed by the sense of comradery with others who have been oppressed by this crazy, hyper achieving culture. 

Apparently, I am not alone.  Because when I shared that blog post on my Facebook wall, I saw that it had been shared over and over and over again.  Comments like, "YES!"  And, "I needed this!" were posted all over.

Don't we all love a tip li that starts with, "lower your expectations?"  Finally!  Advice I can actually implement!  That's a great #1 for 23 ways to stay sane this summer.  Preach it!  Let's sit around in our jammies till the afternoon while dishes pile up and not feel an ounce of guilt about it.

And the trifecta symptom that we are all pretty much done with the bar being set beyond human capabilities?  This was my Facebook status this morning:

"Public service announcement: Make up? I'm over it. Listen-- if I'm going to workout & run 4-5 days a week in TX heat, I simply can't be bothered to also get all ready everyday. It's too much to ask. Don't be startled when you see my make up- less yet healthy self."

Within just an hour, I had dozens of likes and comments and affirmatives on this status.  And it made me wonder something.

If we are all so over make-up and trying to dress to impress and too much being expected of us, then why on earth do we keep doing it?  

It's like some crazy version of Stockholm Syndrome.  We feel some strange attachment to the point of defending the very captor that binds us in this trap of reaching for an unattainable goal.

How's that working for us?  We feel this need to be the perfect volunteer mom whose child earns all the awards.  We must schedule and perfectly occupy our children with incredible color-coded goals and activities every day of the summer.  All the while with perfectly fixed hair and make-up reflecting how beautiful we are in our Pinterest inspired Chambray shirt and colored jeans worn just as pictured online.  

(P.S.  Don't be a hater when you see me in this outfit.  It was a birthday gift.  Therefore attainable.  Plus, the other days of the week I am no doubt in running shorts and a t-shirt from 1992.)
In the midst of drowning in all this striving and straining to have it all, we grab the nearest life preserver and feel incredibly affirmed when someone says, "Whoa, Nelly!  I am no Wonder Woman."   Obviously.  Because blog posts and social media and the response they conjure are signs of how we just need someone to lead us in another direction.

We need someone to remind us of the truth.  We need someone to rally for inferiority.  Or rather, REALITY.

Listen.  I am not every woman.  It's NOT all in me.  Whatever you want done, baby, I'm realizing I can't do it naturally.  

Here's the voice of reason.  The whole truth.

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  
Romans 1:25

Here's what all of this has boiled down to.  The nitty gritty.  We have exchanged the TRUTH of our completeness in Christ--our shortcomings and limitations and inability apart from Him yet brought to perfection only in Him.  In exchange for HIS sufficiency alone, we worship the approval of man, the ridiculous "you can have it all and do it all" standard set by our culture.  We bow to societal pressure and media role models and catchy slogans.  They have become the altar where we run ourselves ragged.  Forgetting all the while that our Creator is the only one worthy.  Our Creator is the only one who really can do it all.  He alone is capable.  We can never do enough, reach the top, achieve success, find contentment without Him.  

He alone is the whole package deal.  We are but clay in the Potter's hands. 

And I have really great news, bloggy friends.  

His promise and expectation for us is so achievable.  Without make-up.  Without being the perfect mother.  Without keeping a perfectly dust-bunny-proof house while whipping up a Martha Stewart meal for our entire family and neighbors, complete with matching place cards.

 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

His yoke does not include any expectation to look like a supermodel, run a perfectly ordered household, raise perfect children while never raising our voices, or live up to the expectations of others. 

Not at all.  

Weary and heavy-laden with all that you feel you gotta live up to? 

Rest.  That's what you can find.  When you do this one thing.

Realize the lies that are plaguing you.  Take a good hard look at the captors of "societal norms" that are chaining you down.  Consider whom you are trying to impress--whose opinion matters most.

Then chuck it all.  Y'all, let's jump off the treadmill of crazy and lie down.  In the arms of our Father.  Our only burden?  To love Him and know Him morePlain and simple.  Seek Him first, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).  Christ plus NOTHING is everything we need.

Do not receive the notion that you can do it all and be it all and you should look amazing and camera ready at all times.

Because the truth of it is that no paparazzi are following us around.  And the lady whom we think has it all together would LOVE for us to let her off the hook. She'd like someone to tell her it's okay to roll out of bed and throw on work out clothes.  Even if she never works out.  Who cares?  

Because we are loved beyond comprehension JUST. AS. WE. ARE.

Join my battle cry!  Let's not just start a no make-up revolution.  Let's embrace just how much we can't.  Embrace our mediocrity.  Acknowledge our weaknesses.  That's where HIS sufficiency shows off best.

I don't know about you, but I feel a cool breeze of freedom blowing across my soul as I realize it's okay to be the worst mom ever, to lower expectations, and to boycott a Barbie expectation of appearance.  Here I am world!  I'm busting out of this expectation jail and making a run for it.  Who wants to go with me?

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