As a mother, a blogger, a teacher, and a waitress I think it is safe to say I have had more than my fair share of opportunities to prove this to be true. Despite the repeated compliments and kudos of my students, it only took one parent with an axe to grind to send me into parent/teacher conference with quivering hands and a shaking voice. I've had several customers applaud my skills as a server, but it only takes one person with a short fuse and a bad attitude to send me into an hour long fit of tears. I seek the approval of pretty much everyone around me with a kind of unhealthy determination that has led me down a dangerous road where Perfectionism meets Comparison.
And oh, the company of fellow moms. Never am I more aware of my appearance, income, shortcomings, accomplishments, stretch marks, and ragged cuticles than when I am in the company of my peers, the other mothers who seem to just be so much better at EVERYTHING.
Why do I do this? Even when I do something well and I know darn well that I knocked it out of the park, I will purposefully undercut my accomplishment or talent by making an excuse for it, downplaying it, or deflecting the credit elsewhere.
It's an impossible situation I put myself in - stuck smack dab between insufficiency and assurance. Aren't we supposed to have all this figured about by now? There was no class in high school or college that prepared us for the uneasiness that comes from just trying to be who we are.
Geez, I started writing this post as a way to reflect on turning 30 in a couple days and look what it's turned into. Perhaps it began when I was stupid enough to venture into the comments section on my piece on Huffington Post Parents. I thought I was above all the hurtful words, immune to the sniping comments, and impervious to the ignorant analysis of those who don't know me from a basket of unfolded laundry. Turns out, I was wrong. Despite scrolling through screen after screen of encouragement and applause, the first nasty accusation I came across slipped silently and painfully into my heart like a spear.
Let's just say I was grateful that all Isaiah could see on the screen was his smiling face holding a baseball and couldn't read some of the hurtful things being said about his Mommy.
So how do we rise above? Is it even possible to break free of the bondage that public opinion can inflict upon us? All I can rest in the is the knowledge that there is only one who truly knows me inside and out and that there is nothing, NOTHING I can do that will lead him to abandon me. Regardless of what I do, his opinion of me remains the same as it did the moment he formed me in my mother's womb. Eternally speaking, His is the only opinion that matters. As I prepare to start of new decade of life given only through the grace of God, I will call on his strength to remember that I am living a life for His glory and that the appro val of men should be of little concern to me.
"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10)
Unlike high school, life is not a popularity contest and the stakes are so much higher than the tiara sitting atop the up-do of the prom queen. There's going to be some big changes as a 30 year old. I can't really explain why, but I just feel like God has something pretty cool in store for this phase of my life.
Do you ever struggle with trying to find the balance between your identity in Christ and your identity in the world? Why do you think it's so difficult sometimes to make the two of those meet?