I begged my Mama to wear the flowy dresses while she vacuumed.
Like Lucy. And Donna Reed. And Mrs. Cleaver.
And I wanted her to wear heels and an up-do while she served us dinner….while she served us dinner around a decorated table with fancy plates and cloth napkins and a boat of gravy that didn’t come from a can.
Dreaming of the day I said ‘I do’ and thereafter – I expected bliss. I had planned on riding around with him in his truck – me perched in the middle – sandwiched between him and some hunting dog. I had grand plans of a honeymoon kind of life.
I scolded myself as a newlywed when the chicken and noodles didn’t turn out like his Mama’s. I threw away the batch of cookies that were just a smidge too brown around the edges. And when the pineapple upside down cake didn’t emerge from the oven looking like the picture – I tossed it right-side up into the trashcan.
As a young woman, I hung pictures of perfect people in my pantry. It was a reminder – To look like them, I couldn’t eat like that.
When I found out I was expecting new life – I dreamed of a sweetly decorated nursery – and smile-filled feeding times – and playgrounds and school pictures and brown bag lunches with notes tucked inside.
And just today – as I went to have a quiet time – I couldn’t enter into the secret place with Him – because the toys were scattered all about and the crumbs were an inch deep and the laundry wasn’t done. And the worst – I hadn’t lit a candle. So the room didn’t smell of vanilla.
It will make a naively optimistic girl – turn into a persistently pessimistic woman.
And the damage of this is deep.
I don’t know how or why I became an idealist – a person who envisions the perfect…the unrealistic. But I do know….. this kind of thinking thwarts all joy.
When happy expectations meet this messy world – disappointment sinks in and makes our hearts turn stale and stagnant.
So what’s a woman to do?
So I’m fighting against my flesh and doing this: I’m dropping to my knees right here in the midst of all the toys and crumbs and dirty clothing – I’m just plopping prayers right on top of them. And I pour my heart out there and I ask for Grace to come swiftly and I ask for Him to just let me feel joy in it all. And I ask that He begin to unravel this tight-wound woman and that I be okay with it.
Because perfectionism keeps us from people.
Perfectionism and idealism – they zap moments and they sap us of energy. And by the time we have our lives looking just so….. seasons have passed and we’ve missed it…we’ve missed them…..and Him.
Because it seems as if He meets us most right there in the mess.
So self – kick the toys aside…make just enough room on the ground for your knees to take a position of prayer. And when you stand up – you might have crumb covered shins – but you would have poured it all out to Him and you’ll be lighter. Self – stop picking up the trains and baby dolls and sit yourself right down and play with them – for goodness sake. And let those babes bake with you in the kitchen. Who cares if it takes double the time – you’ll be making double the memories.
Remember that belted dresses are uncomfortable, and high heels make you have varicose veins and if you have a hankerin’ for good chicken and noodles – just go to your mother-in-laws house. Know – that if marriage were all a honeymoon – you’d never get to make-up. If the cookies come out a tad overdone – tell them they are the crunchy kind. And if the pineapple upside down cake is ugly – laugh – and eat it anyway. Remember that perfect people in fitness magazines drink gritty protein shakes for every meal and remember that a crying baby – simply means there is a baby. (Oh, the blessing!) Remember that a living room littered with Tonka trucks and tea cups – is a living room that’s lived in. And remember – that He speaks in our moments with Him – whether a candle is lit – or not.
Self – set the idea of a life that looks like a magazine cover down. Set it right down and walk away. And instead enter into play – and yes, pray…..because much will be missed if you don’t.