After I posted my last blog post, “I’m not enough,” a couple friends told me I should read a book by Jen Hatmaker called, “For the Love.” Well, let me just say, I forced myself to read the first chapter on the elliptical this morning just to take my mind off the fact that I was actually working out and make time go by faster. Little did I know, I would end my workout by sobbing (literally), in the gym, in public. Jen Hatmaker, you get me.
After becoming a mom, we all go through that struggle of not feeling enough. We all feel the constant guilt that we can’t “do it all.” We all have tried and failed to be all of the things that society tells us to be in this day and age. And through Jen’s words in this book, in only the first chapter, I have decided to let myself off of the hook. I want to find joy in this season, and stop making myself unhappy because I can’t fulfill every awesome role I see in other women and just well, stop striving and find joy.
Now I’m going to literally quote her book because I think her words are so powerful, I want each of you reading this to experience the same freedom I felt:
“Balance. It’s like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven’t actually seen one. I’m beginning to think it isn’t a thing.
“Here is part of the problem, girls: We’ve been sold a bill of goods. Back in the day, women didn’t run themselves ragged trying to achieve some impressively developed life in eight different categories. No one constructed fairy-tale childhoods for their spawn, developed an innate set of personal talents, fostered a stimulating and world-changing career, created stunning homes and yardscapes, provided homemade food for every meal (locally sourced, of course), kept all marriage fires burning, sustained meaningful relationships in various environments, carved out plenty of time for “self-care,” served neighbors/church/world, and maintained a fulfilling, active relationship with Jesus our Lord and Savior. You can’t balance that job description. Listen to me: No one can pull this off.”
“The trouble is, we have up-close access to women who excel in each individual sphere. With social media and its carefully selected messaging, we see career women killing it, craft moms slaying it, chef moms nailing it, Christian leaders working it….We combine the best of everything we see, every woman we admire in every genre, and conclude: I should be all of that. It is certifiably insane. The only thing worse than this unattainable standard is the guilt that follows when perfection proves impossible.”
Paraphrasing here, but when we TRY to be all of that, we are left feeling like we are doing a terrible job at EVERYTHING.
Here’s the point where she kicked me in the face: “This is beyond unreasonable. It is destructive. We no longer assess our lives with any accuracy. We have lost the ability to declare a job well-done. We measure our performance against an invented standard and come up wanting, and it is destroying our joy…Our primary defaults are guilt and exhaustion.”
She goes on to explain that there are seasons in our lives. So ask God what’s important for you to take on IN THIS SEASON. Determine what FUELS you and keep that on your list. Determine what DRAINS you, and cut it from your life (even if it’s just for this season). She says, “We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise.”
People will understand when you have to say “no” because they have seasons and boundaries too. So, don’t be afraid to say NO to some of the opportunities that come your way that could take you away from your family or your sanity. (Insert HUGE sigh of relief.)
Some examples from my own life: 9-5 desk job climbing the corporate ladder (I’d rather die), classroom mommy at school (just prescribe me Xanax now), crafts and decor for every event (Nope.), growing organic veggies for my family in the backyard (I literally touch a plant and it dies). These things, I’m going to stop STRIVING for, and decide it’s not the season for this in my life (or ever). As for the fueling, hosting friends at our home (YES and AMEN). Working on my own time so I can still put Kennedy down for naps and I don’t miss the cuddles that I won’t get anymore one day (sign me up), taking the time to write blogs to help inspire and encourage other women (you have no idea how much joy it brings me), working out (I literally couldn’t be sane without it), and making quality time (without Kennedy) to be with Jesus. You have to pray through your own list of demands and ask God what to keep and what to cut loose in this season of YOUR life too.
In conclusion, Jen goes on to say, “I deeply believe God want this freedom for us. Scripture instructs us to live presently and joyfully, resisting worry and believing Jesus set us free for freedom’s sake. We have an abundance of good and perfect gifts that often look like a messy house full of laughter, a ten-year-old running through a sprinkler, a heart unburdened by comparison, an afternoon nap, joy in using our gifts and leaving the rest to people better suited. Our generation is so hamstrung with striving and guilt, we no longer recognize God’s good and perfect gifts staring us in the face. What a tragedy. What a loss. We will never get these lovely years back.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to be free of this constant treadmill of achieving the perfect balance and becoming the perfect woman, mom, boss, etc. I want what Jen Hatmaker states so well about finding joy in the season I’m in. God didn’t want us to do it all, all of the time. He wants us to find joy in each new season and have grace for ourselves. Friends, help ME rest and find joy in this season and stop trying to live up to impossible standards.
Link to purchase this book, because it’s AWESOME: http://tinyurl.com/YouGetMeJen