October 28, 2013

A Picture Tells A Thousand Lies

The filtering lens of social media allows us to paint a beautiful picture of life, doesn't it? Sure, we occasionally post a picture of a bad hair day and give it a hash tag of #beingreal.  We are willing to share a botched recipe or a craft-gone-bad.  We may even go so far as to confess a parenting fail.
Even on our very worst days, our "good stuff" far outweighs the ugly when it comes to Facebook, blogs, Instagram or any other social spotlight.  No one wants to be a Debbie Downer, so when my day is knocking me down before I even slip out of bed,  I often choose silence rather than share my struggles.  It is much more safe to stay silent.
Safe, but false.

When I only share the good/funny/beautiful, I am essentially giving you a one sided conversation (or slide show) of what I want you to think of me.  Not the real me with the hard edges poking out and unsightly rips in my confidence.

I may have this all wrong, but I'm guessing that there are millions of women out there feeling that they are the only ones who don't have it all together.
An imperfect island with rocky places and lonely spaces.
If you do have it all together, then you may stop reading right now and head over to Martha Stewart's website to plan your next party.  I'll venture to guess that many of you stayed right here with this imperfect girl.

A year ago, as I wiped tears from my eyes, I said to a friend, "I sure thought I'd have life figured out better than I do by this age."  No matter what age or stage of life you are in, Satan knows how to attack you.  He knows your weak points and vulnerable places.  It could be
your weight,
your loneliness,
your past,
your future,
your relationships,
your self-worth,
your marriage,
your children,
your  skills,
your job,
your finances,
your self-confidence.

Since my teen years he's attacked every piece of that list at one point or another.  The weak spot in my armor has moved around throughout my lifetime.  I have often tried to use one part of the "armor" to cover/protect another part.  I thought my weight would boost my self-confidence.  I thought my skills would cover the parenting of my children.  In more recent years I've allowed my relationships to validate my self-worth.
You already know how the story ends in that scenario:

I gain weight, my self-confidence sinks.
My skills falter, my parenting feels like a failure.
My personal relationships dry up, my self-worth implodes.
Are you tracking with me?  I'm about to get personal.  Real.  Open.

Over the past year I've dealt with some relational pain, rejection, and disappointment.  
I am a people person and a people pleaser.  Basically, I like people.  I want people to like me.  I want everyone to get along.  End of story.
But that's not the end of the story because it takes two to tango and some people just aren't meant to be dance partners.  I've always dreamed of having a giggle-under-the-covers-eating-pistachio-ice-cream kind of relationship with a sister.  I love my sister-in-laws, but the dots of our relationships are connected by holidays and occasional family get togethers.  I've spent the better part of a year letting go of a dream.   I had allowed the dream to cloud my self-worth.  I had forgotten that my value is in Christ's unconditional love for me.   He has called me to be the daughter of the Most High King, wife of an amazing man, and the mom of three incredible kids.  The other relationships are bonuses.  I struggle with keeping that perspective.  Do you?

From the day we stepped foot on this farm, my husband and I have made it our mission to share it with others.  We've had countless friends and family over for every kind of event you can imagine.  We like people.  We want people to like us.  See the pattern?
I was recently criticized for not including someone at an event.  We would never intentionally leave someone out, but the verbal cut was painful.  It was mostly painful because we find ourselves in a barren place of feeling excluded ourselves.  I've written about this struggle before.   What I still wrestle over, on a regular basis, is how rare my kids get invited to other people's homes.  Our doors are always open, but it is hard to not take it personally when others' doors are shut.  It is rejection via omission.  Satan was whispering his lies to me this afternoon: "Has your son ever been invited to his house?"  "You must have done some poor parenting for your kids to get excluded."  "You and your family are unworthy."  "They don't like you."
Have you heard those lies before?  I know I have good kids.  I know they are well behaved.  But Satan likes to weave truths into lies and when I listen, my heart grows heavy.  I feel helpless.
Just when I feel the burden grow weary, I am reminded of this:
O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in, behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Psalm 139:1-5

Did you catch the beauty in those verses?  He KNOWS me.  He hems my heart in, behind and before.  He knows my intentions.  He knows my weaknesses.  He knows my vulnerable places.  He also knows what is best for me:
I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you
who directs you in the way you should go.
Isaiah 48:17
So dear one, be encouraged.  He doesn't expect perfection.  If he did, then we wouldn't have needed a Savior, would we?  God promises to be all the armor we need.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11 

As I wrote this post, it became very clear that I struggle with rejection.  Ya, the truth stings a bit.  I didn't write this for pity or even affirmation.  I wrote these words to encourage you.  Though life here on the farm is beautiful, we all have personal struggles.  I hope to break the false reflection of perfection.
The truth is, life is beautiful and messy and difficult and amazing.


Christi said...

I for one am SO happy you shared this... if you meant it to encourage, it hit the spot for me this morning. We are currently struggling with these very same "relationship" issues - a friendship has actually ended in the last few weeks - and I am left feeling like "this always happens" & at a loss with how to go forward. I am tired - of being the ones with open doors, of trying to make things happen, of always being the initiator. So tired of trying.

So, no doubt He led me here this morning. Thank you for sharing your heart! xo

Bree said...

I can relate :) To God be the glory as we all travel on this journey. Thank you for sharing your heart. Have a blessed week :)

Becke' said...

Hi! I wanted to introduce myself...my name is Becke'. I am good friends with Anna over at Bugs and Sunshine. She told me she got to meet you awhile back and that you are the most precious thing ever. I just wanted to say I like your blog...your love for Jesus, your honesty, your HOUSE, your fun country pictures! Thanks for this post today...I struggled with rejection by omission just yesterday, at church of all places. Blessings to you!

Bugs and Sunshine said...

I love ya to pieces!

And this post is one of the reasons why!

Playing Sublimely said...

I get it, I totally get it.

Anonymous said...

Gretchen, I don't often take the time to read your blog but when I do I always leave so encouraged. It must be God prompting me to take the time because it is always something I need to hear. Thank you for your honesty and transparency, things that are all to often missing these days.

Joy for the Seasons said...

Bless you, sweet one.

Joe and Abby said...

As I laid on the floor of my bedroom this weekend, crying and praying about how I feel like a failure in every area of my life... So encouraged! Praying for discernment to hear the truth of my Savior's voice over the lies of our accuser. So glad to know you!!!

Chelsea said...

Gretchen I love your openness and honesty. I've struggled recently too with the demise of a decade-old friendship, and nothing hurts much like relationships gone bad.

And who isn't inviting your kids over? Are they crazy?!