Thursday, September 13, 2012

more from behind the mask

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My Grace for the Good Girl small group has started and we had an awesome discussion of the first three chapters. I'm going to try really hard not to quote the entire book on my blog - that is how much this book has meant to me.

I think one of the most important questions during our discussion was this:
"Describe your invisible good girl, good Christian, good wife, good mom. What does she look like? What does she sound like? How do you feel sitting next to her?" 
I got to spend a lot of time thinking about this last night. The hubs took all the kids out for dinner so I could spend some quality time getting some work done. As I cleaned, I thought about this, trying to discover lies that my "invisible good girl" or my emotionally photoshopped version of myself tells me. Because if you can recognize the lie sometimes you can avoid the melt-down.



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I have been finding answers to this question all over my life. Like "a good mom's kids would never have messy rooms because they would have been raised to be more tidy" or "a good mom's kid would never loose their Library book." or rip up a Library book, or steal their friend's toy or lie to my face. That good mom constantly shames me. She constantly points out my failures.

And I'm not talking about little things here and there, I'm talking about gut-wrenching agony, the ugly cry, the silent scream. Have I permanently scarred my kids? I wonder after I've lost it again, after I realize that I haven't folded my laundry in a month, when I realize that I've been letting my kids watch way too much TV and have been way too emotionally distant and physically unavailable. I have experienced a lot of emotional distress when my self-image is so disconnected from who I really am they are hardly even similar anymore. I think I ought to be this and this and this and this. As a wife, as a mom, as a Christian. But I'm not. And that sucks.

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I think recognizing the lies of the good girl facade comes down to two things - one is self-confidence and the other is how you define yourself. They are closely related and constantly affecting each other.

Sometimes I define myself by my lack. I hide because I am so aware of my less-than and not-good-enough. I see myself when I behave the way I wish I wouldn't.  I see my crap, my mess and I allow that to define me. I'm that lousy Christian who struggles with quiet times (even though I'm learning that maybe that's not such a bad thing) I'm that awful wife who keeps having the same fight over and over. I'm the lame mom who is lazy and decidedly un-awesome, the distant friend. When I let my lack define me I am denying what God says about me.

But I also deny what God says about me when I define myself by my strengths.  I might be reliable, super-committed, a good listener, a mature Christian... whatever. Jesus made it really clear about what he thinks about people who define themselves by their strengths.  When I define myself by my strengths I often get too busy to be involved in what God wants me to be and become overly self-reliant.

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Because this is where it comes back to confidence. Where is my confidence? Is it in my performance? Is it in the fact that I had my quiet-time, did my small group homework and reading and participated in the discussion? I paid my tithe and volunteered in the nursery? Or do I avoid drawing near to God because I'm struggling or even failing in an area (or two or three) of my performance? Where does my confidence (or lack of it) center?

Why is it so hard to draw near to God, confident of our acceptance in Christ and allowing our awareness of our lack to fuel our dependance on God? Wouldn't it be such a beautiful thing if I could come to God with my mess and my lack and say "I want to be with you, spend time in your presence and let you make me more like who you created me to be" and cry out to him with our neediness and live day to day like he has already answered that prayer? Trusting that He will be provide.

We have just got to allow the gospel to define us and draw our confidence from what God says about us - we are His bride, his beloved ones. His daughters, perfect because of what Christ accomplished on our behalf. Which has absolutely nothing to do with our performance...

3 comments:

  1. What strikes me about this is how sad it sounds. And how much of your introspection lately seems to be focused on how you handle your "failures" and what you think you're lacking. I know you're trying to bust the peppy facade, and your point is to bare it all, but your tone makes me wonder if you're allowing yourself much joy. Not happiness, that depends on circumstances out of your control, but the quiet inner joy that lets you pause in the middle of chaos and sigh and feel blessed.

    There is so much suffering in the world. You have suffered, and you will suffer in the future. I just can't believe that our purpose here is to make ourselves suffer more. I think humanity's great strength is finding beauty despite all the ugliness out there and our ability to see blessings and joy in the midst of pain and loneliness. And you are so good at seeking out and highlighting the beauty in the physical world. I'm left wondering if you do the same for the spiritual side.

    Sorry for the inappropriately in-depth response from an internet stranger. I read this while walking the 4-month-old around a dark nursery and it got me thinking...

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    Replies
    1. I think it's totally awesome that you wrote that comment in the dark with your baby - because I read it in the dark with mine. I'm standing here with my stuffy-nosed 13 month old trying to sing him back to sleep.

      I loved your comment, it touched me so deeply. I think I AM sad right now, and exhausted and overcommitted and over thinking and sick. But I think the thought behind the post is not a sad on but a hopeful one. I think it's good to face our lack and not let it define you. I also think I should have spent more time with the last paragraph - because that is our hope! At the end of the ugly cry is the Hand that wipes away the tears and calls us his beloved.
      I appreciate you calling me out on this. I was raised in that Eore style of Christianity and I slip back into it way too easily. I totally agree with you that the Christian life should be marked by joy - we of all people! Thanks so much for the reminder.

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  2. great discussion. i've read this book, and just purchased all that was left on the shelf of her new book, directed at older girls. i think it's important to recognize the voices that demand so much of us, but also, it's important to know when and how to hush them. have you been to emily's 31 days series yet? she's an amazing writer. her blog brings peace to me.
    wishing you that peace~

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