Clinging to promises and the daily hard

I shared this lovely, beautiful post over at the Facebook page for Circling the Story. But it deserves another share. It’s a post that captures in words and pictures our fight to stay present, our fight to be real and authentic and vulnerable amidst the daily hard we all face. Here are just a few gems that jumped out at me:

The idea of perfection had become more important than honesty.

You may feel broken.  You may feel imperfect. You may feel like this chapter of your story is not one worth remembering. But it is.  The most beautiful chapter of life is the one that does not go unnoticed.

What do you notice?

For me, as I’ve been thinking about what this photographer might see in my day, might capture in me, so often it’s not beautiful little moments of care and connection. No, the raw that she might see would be me: fists clenched feeling the need to have my way, to have the kids be quiet so I could get time just to myself. That I deserved it. That I pour myself out again and again for a ragamuffin band of little people that have no clue.

Sacrifice never feels like enough. It always feels like too much. When we bear it ourselves, when we look with us alone, it is too much. And as a friend said to me, we keep wishing those moments away.

I think when it comes down to it, those moments that someone else might capture — all the daily hard — are moments when I have to prove something. Have to show myself and those around me what I’m made of, because if I don’t — if I actually “take up my cross and die” well, then, what? Then I’ll disappear.

Sometimes staying at home with children feels like disappearing. Disappearing from a workplace where you’re validated and critiqued or even have a quiet space to work out ideas. At home, I just have laundry, and a To Do list and my inner perfectionist critiquing it all. Who tells me all the ways I don’t measure up to perfection.

It’s too much. The hamster wheel. The mama guilt. The fear and worry that accompanies the dailyness because I didn’t measure up — or was selfish, or needed time away, or needed something from someone, anyone. Anyone to hear and say “Yes, I see you.”

But the raw feels like failure. The raw feels like disappearing. It feels unproductive. But it is only in giving up that we can be made to be filled up and full again. Overflowing with a strength of character that says, “yes”, “tell me more”, that says, “I will be present in the now. Even in the hurt. Even in my anger. Even in my frustration, I will be present.” And it makes promises: I won’t steamroller you because I’m angry. I won’t hurt you because I’m wrestling with God about how my needs are met. No, I lay down, hour by hour, arms outstretched and say “yes”. It means I say I’m sorry a whole bunch because most of the time I walk around with my teeth clenched; it means I give space and time for the emotions to firm up so they can be said.

This “letting go” is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s not even the “letting go” of my growing-up children that’s the challenge — it’s the day-in and day-out challenge of letting go of the expectations and thoughts I had of how great I’d be or how amazing life would be now — married with children, owning a house, career path and passions and friends.

Because this letting go, is a letting go that strikes at the root of who I am. But I’m confident, deep in my bones and even as I falter, that something lovely will rise from the ashes. That by being raw and truthful and seeking beauty amongst the ruins, that hope and life and fullness and joy will follow. For that’s what’s promised.

So I’m going to sink my nails into that promise and cling to it with all I’ve got.

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10 Comments

  1. I don’t have young children any more, but I remember the days and you capture those feelings so well. It is hard to keep sacrificing when it seems no one notices or seems to care. We know that God cares and sees. What you say here “But it is only in giving up that we can be made to be filled up and full again.” is so true. Letting go of expectations is hard but when we are willing to loosen our grip on what we want to control, it frees us up to be who God is calling us to be. Thank you so much for your post. It was encouraging to read.

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  2. Thank you Gayle for your perspective. So good to see the light at the end of the tunnel from wiser women! And yes it’s giving up daily that’s the hardest — and where joy is found.

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  3. I was a “stay at home mom” for ten years. They were the best years and the hardest. Your post takes me right back to those moments of struggle & laundry. I promise you, something lovely and amazing will rise from the ashes of your letting go. This time in your life matters greatly.

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    1. Thank you Renee for your perspective from the other side. 🙂 It’s deeply encouraging. I realize if it weren’t the trials of young kids, it’d be something else, I’m sure to point me square in the lap of Jesus.

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  4. I really enjoyed this. What struck me is – in the moment of frustration – letting go. Being aware of that raw moment that seems to take me off course and then just laying it down. This is needed for me. I have so many of these moments. Sometimes I hate how I act. But, we are not searching for perfection, we are searching for honesty – as you well explain.

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