Years ago I trapped myself in an image of being a perfect wife, a perfect mother, and a perfect Christian with unattainable standards. I compared myself to all of the women around me with their well-organized schedules, well-dressed families and their clean homes. I compared myself to the snippets of beautiful images with witty captions shared on Facebook from women I admired. I read and re-read Proverbs 31 in awe of the descriptions of this woman (not realizing at the time that it was an oracle to King Lemuel from his mother even though it was in the first sentence). I sought out the counsel of everyone I could to ask about my roles to learn how to live up to my own expectations. I was determined. My desire to serve well was stronger than any embarrassment of who I was, and nothing would stop me from attaining this ideal. Nothing, except me.
While striving to attain the unattainable, I threw myself into a deep, dark depression. The greater I strove, the harder I took it when I failed. Over the past few years, I have learned a few things that transformed my life, pulled me out of the pit of despair and propelled me into a life of hope, love, ambition and grace.
- Everyone has natural limitations that they must accept.
There are a few physical limitations that were easy for me to identify and accept. I knew that I needed food, water, oxygen, and sleep to survive day by day, but I couldn’t accept the finite amount of time and energy I had per day. To accomplish my daily goals of teaching my children an elaborate and diverse curriculum, maintaining a clean home, keeping up with laundry, completing customer orders and responding to customer service requests in a timely manner, cooking healthy and nutritious meals, studying the Scriptures, and being emotionally and physically available for my husband by the end of the day, I would need more time and energy than my body could physically possess.
I have learned to be thankful for what I can do in one day, and I try to accept what I cannot. Each day I am given so much time and so much energy. I get to choose how to utilize the time and energy I am given, but I cannot do more than my physical limitations. In summary, I do what I can, not what I can’t.
- At any given moment, there are 1,000 things to complain about. I have to find ONE thing that can bring me joy and hold onto it.
When I cannot find anything inside myself to be joyful about, I look around me. I notice the small things like Galia being mesmerized by one of her discoveries, Brooke sharing her excitement about a new animal fact she learned, Ariel describing how he felt using words, or Celise’s attempts at learning to walk. I try to share in their joys and live in their moment when my own thoughts are discouraging. Sometimes, I have to step outside and look at the sky, the sun, the grass or the rain to remember I am a part of a much larger world, and in this moment, I just need to breathe.
- Life is HARD, and that is not due to a lack or deficit in me.
For so long, I thought my life was hard because I was not good enough or that I must be lacking in some or all areas. The truth is that I am struggling because my situation is hard. It’s not hard because of me, it is hard because it is HARD.
- My best is ENOUGH because it is all I have to give.
Over time, I have learned that I can only give what I have and not what I do not have. At any given moment, I handle each situation to the absolute best of my ability. Sometimes that doesn’t look very pretty. When I want to do better, I learn during a time when I’m not overwhelmed and my body is not stuck in fight-or-flight. When I know better, I do better.
As years went on, with great sorrow, I realized that the images and impressions given off by the women I admired were not their reality either. Many of them had similar or even greater struggles than I had. It pained me that they did not feel they could be completely open and honest when sharing their lives with me in the beginning. I don’t want anyone else to experience the pain I’ve felt by thinking that I was a misfit in a world of perfection. The truth is that running a business to earn a living that provides for my children, while raising and caring for my family, is hard even with my husband alongside me. Every single day is hard. I try my best and fall often. I get up, apologize to those I hurt, learn and continue forward because the trail I blaze is leading the 6 young people right behind me.