Facebook Makes Me Flawless

HNCK4040-1300x867

“You’re life is so perfect.”

I met the comment with a curious half smile and confused twisted eyebrows. My life? Perfect?

“What in the world gave you that idea?”, I replied.

“I’m always looking at the pictures you post on Facebook and you’re always so happy. Your family and life is just…perfect.”

My heart sunk when I realized what had happened.

Facebook made me flawless.

At least appear to be.

I had unintentionally created an image of myself, my family and my life that does not exist. I didn’t mean to misrepresent myself, but I did. It’s so easy to display an edited, more viewer friendly version of yourself; skimming the top of your day without getting into the depths of the messy details.

So here’s the truth.

I only post pretty pictures of myself. If my muffin top is hanging over my pants in a photo, I either crop it or delete the photo altogether. If the angle or lighting is unflattering, not a problem…I’ll just use a filter. I’m even guilty of digitally correcting a blemish and lightening the bags under my eyes. Yup. I’ve done that.

I only post happy family photos. Facebook is a great way to stay connected to loved ones who live hundreds of miles away. But the pictures I share are usually the kinds you keep in your wallet. I’ve never posted one of my toddler peeing on the floor or having a mega meltdown because I won’t give her 7 cookies…or let her eat the dog’s food. I’ve never posted a picture of both my daughters scream crying for 10 long, looooong minutes while I also breakdown and cry like a baby thinking to myself, “How can I balance it all today?” Those are not happy wallet worthy photos, so they don’t make the cut.

I only post positive status updates. I’ll share a Bible verse that has encouraged me that week, but rarely will I mention that the reason the verse hit me so powerfully is because I’ve felt empty for weeks- emotionally depleted, physically worn. I question whether I’m qualified to make a difference. I battle self-doubt and insecurity in my appearance and in my journey as a mother, a wife, a woman. But none of that is consistently seen. You just get the pretty glimpse, not the ugly stare down.

Behind every pretty, happy photo that’s posted, there are a dozen other life-snapshots filled with toddler tantrums, tired makeup-less faces, arguments, self-doubt and muffin tops.

That is the real me. That is my real life. My messy, imperfect, love-filled life.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” — Steven Furtick

So let’s try to remember that the hearts on the other side of the computer screens have a lot going on. And heaven knows how many outtakes it took to get one good photo to share with the digital world. If we want to know the real person, let’s stop observing them through a glass screen and grab a cup of coffee with them instead. Face to face, heart to heart. Not to try to find their flaws, but to get involved in the realness. Because that’s what life is about, connecting and loving each other in our beautiful messes.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34&35

To Love the Unlovable

roses

I recently watched a very complicated situation unfold. I wasn’t directly involved- more of a bystander. But a friend I love dearly was in the heart of it, so I got an up close view of the whole thing.

A close relative of my friend was injured and needed to be cared for during their recovery process. In the best of circumstances, her relative could still easily be defined as “unlikable.” So throw in a traumatic experience, unstable emotions and a resistant attitude, and you’ve got someone who makes it miserable to be around (to put it nicely).

Throughout the recovery process, nothing seemed to go smoothly. There were physical setbacks, unexpected financial blows, constant opposition and emotional outbursts.

And that was just the surface of the situation. There were layers upon layers of emotional scars that ran deep, adding to the messiness of it all. The person who had inflicted those scars now lay in a hospital bed, unable to do basic things for themselves.

My friend, who could have been justifiably angry from a lifetime of pain, chose to bear the scars with mercy, and love someone who didn’t deserve it. Once broken and fragile, my friend now embodied strength and restoration. She had found healing, peace and redemption over the years. That’s what happens when Jesus gets involved in our messes. Sitting in that hospital room, she poured out grace and love without restraint.

Now before I go on, let me just say, having boundaries is a very good thing. I don’t think the “right thing” or “loving thing” means to keep going back to an unhealthy or dangerous situation or relationship. Sometimes, staying away is the harder thing to do. Sometimes, it’s best to get out of a relationship completely because it’s physically or emotionally dangerous. Other times, love can only be offered through limited interaction like short conversations or through prayers for the person. But other times, love physically comes face to face with the unlovable.

That is the love I saw. Given freely and unconditionally. I watched as the emotionally wounded chose to love the wounder over and over.

She made the decision to love.

It wasn’t the feel good kind of love that’s filled with hugs and rainbows and bunnies.

It was the raw, messy, pain filled, undeserving kind of love.

It was Jesus kind of love.

And it shook me.

But if I can be totally honest, I don’t know if I would have loved as well as she did. If put in that situation, I hope I would love well. I desperately hope I would. However, there were numerous times I watched her be horribly mistreated and my heart thought, “She should just walk away. It’s not her responsibility. She’s the one who has been hurt. Her relative is just finally reaping what they sowed for years. They don’t deserve such a love. It isn’t fair.”

But during one of those thoughts, the Lord very clearly interrupted, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

The example of love I saw that left me in awe was human to human. Can you believe that there is a love even fiercer, stronger and eternal? I too, have been given a completely undeserved love by a holy God. I make mistake after mistake, but He continues to love me.

Is that fair? Not at all.

Do I deserve it? Absolutely not.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

He is a perfect God loving a very, VERY imperfect person. Yet, He calls me His daughter, His beloved. He has not only cared for me when I was most unlikable, He died for me when I was most unlovable. He took the punishment of death that I deserved. Death. That is what I deserved.

How’s that for love.

Raw, messy, never-ending, undeserved love.

Freely given…

…despite mistakes.

…despite failures.

…despite resistance.

…despite messing up again…and again…and again.

…despite never ever being able to come close to deserving it.

It’s easy for me to accept something good that I don’t deserve, but the moment I see someone else given the same good thing, I quickly point out the injustice.

Oh, the love of Jesus!

Yeah, it’s not fair or just or deserved. And thank goodness. My life depends on it…and so does yours.

So Tired and So Happy – Encouragement for Every Mom

image (2)

“Motherhood is an experiment in how long your body can function without adequate sleep or nourishment and fueled only on adrenaline, caffeine, and baby smiles.” — Unknown

“Being a mom is the absolutely beeeeeest!” my friend squealed as she closed her eyes and covered her heart with her hands. She began describing all the wonderfulness of her new title of Momma. I had been married for less than a year, so babies were not yet in the forecast. I did however, have a puppy name Rowdee. I knew I would be able to relate to my friend, because babies…puppies…same thing. The only difference is with a puppy you are horribly inconvenienced because you can’t take a puppy into the grocery store with you.

“When she sleeps, she smiles and coos and it’s just the cutest thing ever!”

I totally get that. My puppy is adorable when he sleeps. Especially when he dreams of chasing a squirrel and his little legs start running. Ah, that’s the best.

“She’s not sleeping the best at night though. So I’ve been up with her a lot. But once I pick her up and see that sweet little face. It makes the tiredness worth it.”

I had to wake up at 4 in the morning last week to let Rowdee out to pee. His scratching at the back door totally interrupted my REM cycle. Man, I was exhausted the next day. I can totally relate.

“I’ll look at her and our eyes will connect. It’s just…indescribable!”

Rowdee looks at me when he wants a treat. Like, right in the eyes. So cute.

“She has these blowouts though. And the noises that come from that little girl! Wow! It’s kind of funny. We go through so much laundry every day.”

Yeah, Rowdee pooped in the floor the other day. Not funny though. I don’t get that one.

“I just stare at her and think, ‘Wow! I helped make that!’ I see so many of my features in her!”

Ok, that one’s all you.

When someone tried to explain motherhood to me before I was a mom, I smiled and nodded, thinking I understood. But really, I had absolutely no idea. I couldn’t possibly understand the depth of the word “momma” until I was actually there. I couldn’t comprehend such a fierce love until I held my child for the first time and my heart felt like it was going to melt right on to the floor.

As mommas, we don’t know what we’re capable of until we’ve been stretched and pressed and pulled in every direction imaginable. And still we emerge stronger, better, braver. Not just as mommas, but as women.

You’re doing it, friend. You are a good mom.

 

“Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.” –Tina Fey

You wake up in the middle of the night to rub hurting tummies and to kiss sick little foreheads. Tired aching feet, make their way into dark bedrooms, so you can play the role of knight in shining armor, scaring away bad dreams and shadow monsters. You stroke sweet heads and hum soft lullabies to calm scared hearts. You bounce, you rock, you walk and sway for miles upon miles, trying to get restless babies to rest. On a daily basis, you are faced with the dilemma, take a shower or sleep for 15 more minutes? The latter usually wins.

You do without, so they can have.

Momma, you are selfless.

“A mother is a person who, when seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” — Tenneva Jordan

With the precision of a skilled surgeon, you carefully pull out splinters from tiny, kicking feet. When fun adventures take a turn, you bandage and kiss scraped knees. You hold wiggly arms and smile at crying faces during doctor’s appointments. With complete confidence, you reassure hurting little hearts it will be ok, even when you desperately need to be told that yourself. All of their aches, pains, bruises and scrapes hurt you more than them and sometimes it’s hard to stay strong. But you do it. Sometimes you feel like there is no strength left. But the moment they need it, you somehow always find a little more. Because you are their strength, also known as their momma.

Momma, you are strong.

“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” — Linda Wooten

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It is not weak or easy or safe. You see the darkness in the world. You see the dangers. You see the pain. And if you could bubble wrap your babies for the rest of their lives, you would. But you know you can’t. Your task is far more difficult than simply keeping them safe. You have to teach them to be brave. That will include them experiencing pain and heartbreak. Simply the idea of them hurting in any way feels like a dagger in your heart. But you know a pain free life isn’t the ultimate goal. It can’t be. There’s no such thing. The goal, as a momma, is to raise little lives that will be bold, courageous and brave. Voices that will yell into the darkness, “I am not afraid!”; hands that will grow strong because they are constantly helping the weaker; feet that will lead others to freedom; hearts that will help carry others’ burdens to Jesus.

And at the end of the day, despite total exhaustion washing over you, when you hear that tiny, raspy voice say, “I wuv you, momma”…it’s all worth it. And you’re ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

Momma, you are brave.

Yep, you’re doing it. You are a good mom.

“Making the decision to have a child — it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” — Elizabeth Stone

Forgive and Forget

forget

Sometimes our 2 year old likes to remind us that she is in fact, very much 2. That is accomplished with ear piercing shrieks as she runs and hides behind the curtains at bedtime. Or sometimes it’s through very stern, unwavering NOs. She does NOT need a jacket in subzero degree weather. She does NOT need a nap. And most assuredly, she does NOT need to eat dinner before dessert. 

After one of her statements got…umm…brain-rattling loud…she was warned that if she screamed again, she would get a time out. There was a pause and then “the look”. If you’ve raised or even babysat a toddler, you know the look. It says, “I know I’m not supposed to, so I’m going to because I’m 2.” Our house filled with “Noooooo! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I’m pretty sure I heard every window in our house shake and every dog in our neighborhood howl.

Needless to say, she was told to march to her time out spot.

She served her time well and was released on schedule due to good behavior. I was so proud of her. She said she was sorry. We told her we forgave her. There were kisses and hugs and I love yous. And off she skipped to go play again.

My husband smiled at me and said something that really got me thinking. “I love that she simply accepts our forgiveness then skips off in freedom. I can’t imagine if she kept thinking about a mistake or continually felt guilty or sad for something she’s done. My heart would break. As a dad, I would be like, ‘I forgave you. It’s over. It no longer needs to affect anything. I forgive and forget.’ I bet that’s how God feels towards us when we keep dwelling on past mistakes instead of accepting His forgiveness and moving on in freedom.”

No truer words have been spoken.

It only takes me a moment to mess up, but I can beat myself up about it for a long, long time. I have the endurance of a marathon runner when it comes to dwelling on the mistakes I’ve made. Even after I’ve asked for the Lord’s forgiveness, my flesh sometimes likes to remind me of my failures.

My thoughts overflow with all the “what ifs.” The “I should haves.” The “I could haves.”

But I’ve realized something.

The enemy loves when we stay in an emotional and mental state of regret because it keeps us focused on the past. And as a result, our present is eaten away and we are not a threat to him in the future.

If the enemy can keep us embarrassed, he can hinder us from growing bold.

If he can keep us ashamed, he can prevent us from knowing our worth.

If he can keep us regretful, he can keep us from experiencing freedom.

If the enemy can keep us distracted, he can keep us from being effective.

We can’t expect the ground around us to flourish with joy and power if we keep our feet planted in contrite soil.

Sometimes looking into the past can bring healing and enlightenment. It can free us from bondage. But sometimes, looking back just reinforces the chains of those bonds.

Jesus has been showing me that it’s not about my mistake, it’s about my heart and choice today. And when He says He has forgiven me, He has forgiven me. Period. That’s it. End of story. He will never remind me of my mistakes to bring me shame, embarrassment or guilt. He will forgive and forget.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11 -12

Do we believe that Jesus’ blood was enough? If we do, may we live like it.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Thank you, Jesus for the abundant life that You make available to us. May we live in your freedom. You are faithful & good. Your grace, your freedom, your forgiveness is sufficient for me.