Sometimes I imagine that trying to manage my life is like trying to hold a hundred bouncy balls all at once. Let me paint a picture of what has been portrayed to me as a “perfect woman”, and see if you know what I mean.
This woman is active in causes, fighting against everything from modern-day slavery to a lack of clean water in poverty-stricken areas of the world. Or maybe she’s fighting against one. Something, at least. She is fun to be around… people enjoy hanging out with her. She’s environmentally- aware, using her Nalgene to drink green tea (yay antioxidants!) and at least 8 cups of water a day. This person is patient, and kind, and is generous with grace to herself and to others. She is fashionable (that is, she does her best to look cute in public, and probably wears lipstick). She gets at least eight hours of sleep a night, takes her vitamins, flosses daily, and goes on long runs every time she gets a chance. She tithes. This person knows about world affairs and all the things going on in the White House, and when she votes (because she does vote), she is informed. She is outgoing, friendly, and makes people feel like they are loved and important. She remembers her friends’ birthdays. Her relationship with the Lord is her top priority, and she is passionate and persistent in her pursuit of Him and His Will. She sings hymns, reads her Bible, and is involved in her church body. She hears Him speak during her quiet time. She spends her money wisely. She is a loving, supportive wife who has healthy boundaries and a wise, gentle mother. Her house is cute, and she can bake, and she throws great parties. She takes a Sabbath every week, where is engages in fulfilling and restful activities. She calls her grandparents (and her parents, for that matter). This woman is competent. She can change a tire, and set up the Internet at her apartment, and probably speak Spanish when she goes to Mexican restaurants. She’s thin. She’s completely comfortable in her sexuality. She has opinions about movies, books, music… she’s well-informed and well-spoken. Coffee dates are her thing. And she manages to meet up with everybody from her pastor (or his wife) to the anguished high schooler who needs somebody to listen to her.
And I try to meet all these standards. See what I mean about the hundred bouncy balls?
I am aware, unfortunately, that this list sounds a little snarky. Or bitter. I’m not sure, maybe both. But honestly, I did my absolute best to avoid that tone, because the truth of the matter is that I believe that every single one of those things is good. I mean, you can’t really deny that flossing is important… or spending time with God.
But here is my truth. I cannot do it. I can’t even do most of it. And although that may sound very bold written in black and white on your computer screen, it’s not a confident declaration. Because I really do believe, deep down, that I should be able to hold it together. Why am I whining about calling my grandparents or tithing? I should be able to handle these things. And with that mentality, most of the time, I just suck in my breath, smile, and try harder.
Yet, it is exhausting to try to be this woman. I cry a lot because of it all. And too often, I just get so discouraged with it all that I quit trying and hibernate in my room with an old season of Grey’s Anatomy and some Nutella. And then all the balls drop to the floor and it’s just not good.
So, I’m letting some of those balls go. Politics: gone. I simply do not have the mental or emotional energy to try and figure out whether I’m a Republican or a Democrat. Fashion: also gone. I’d rather wear leggings and an oversized top every day, and lipstick looks weird on me. Plus, the harder I try, the less I like whatever it is that I have on. Causes: for now, I’m letting that one go, too. Environmentalism: I will recycle when I remember, but otherwise, gone. Also, I’m never going to take vitamins, speak Spanish, or enjoy green tea.
And for those that are still worth holding onto, at least for now? Well, I’m just going to have to take the “throne of grace” approach for those.