The 'shoulds' of life

Well, I'm writing this post a bit later than I expected to today. Instead of the nice calm day, and the first day in a week where I didn't have to go anywhere, I got to take a child to the ER which is always fun. Today's patient was G. At a little after 11 am this morning, she was playing with L. and stood up under my desk chair. That would be the same chair that has round metal underneath the arms and G. managed to hit the edge of the metal with her forehead right above the eyebrow. Of course it bled profusely and after looking at it I realized that she would be getting stitches. It was fairly long, on the face, and the clincher was the sides of the wound were pulling apart... my personal benchmark for whether or not to pick up the car keys.

All went well and G. was a fantastic patient. She lay very still for four stitches so they didn't have to use the papoose board (for which I was grateful) and afterward she happily ate a Popsicle. I'm sure the treat had a lot to do with it, but when we were leaving G. happily announces, "That was fun!" Um, yeah. But really, in the great scheme of ER visits, it was fairly easy. No tears and two hours door-to-door.

So, now our family total is 5 ER visits (6 if you include the emergency visit to the doctor for x-rays for L.'s crushed finger) and ~42 stitches. (I'm not sure on the exact stitch count because I can't remember how many K. had when he cut his eyebrow open. Why is it always the eyebrow?) I suppose it could be worse.

What I was going to blog about today was the topic of 'No more perfect homes' because that is the topic of the Hearts of Home link-up. But, really, it turns out that the ER visit fits in well with what I was going to write about. I had it in my head how my day should have gone, and all that I was going to accomplish. I could get upset and frustrated that all those things which I was going to work on will be put aside for later, or I can be glad G. is alright and work with what I have left of the day. We get these ideas in our heads about how things 'should' be, don't we? We should have a clean house, we should be all caught up with everything, we should be making fancy dinners, we should be teaching our children Latin and Greek, we should always look put together, we should never raise our voices, we should, we should, we should, we should.

I don't know about you, but all those 'should's' are exhausting and binding and discouraging. Because, really, who does everything perfectly? And when we don't do things perfectly, we then go ahead and spend huge amounts of time and energy trying to make it appear to others that we do. It is so difficult for us to admit that we aren't perfect. And the blog world is guilty of this ten fold. It is so easy when blogging about one's life to conveniently leave out the imperfections. I'll take a picture, but I'll be sure to push the pile of laundry out of the picture before doing so. I won't mention the morning where I woke up impatient and my head (and voice) exploded at my children for insignificant things. I'll do everything I can to make myself look good.

And we do this in real life too. How many times has someone approached you at church and asked how you're doing, to which you perkily reply, "Oh, just fine." Yeah, fine. But the reality is you're worrying yourself sick over money, you yelled at a child for losing her shoe yet again when you were trying to get out the door, and you spent the worship service annoyed because they sang that song you can't stand again. Wouldn't it be more honest to say, "Thanks for asking. I've had better days, would you mind praying for me?"

But to get back to the topic, because we aren't perfect, our homes and our families will not be either. And I've got a secret to tell you. No ones home and family is perfect. No ones. So, if you walk into your friend, Susie's house (a name chosen because I"m pretty sure I know no one currently whose name is Susie), and it always seems pristine and neat, you can bet you're not seeing the whole story. Looks are deceiving and while the house may be spotless, there will be something in her life that is not. I guarantee it. You may never know what that area is, but it is there. Conversely, Susie may walk into your house and think you are the best mom in the world because you don't mind having the children's forts up in the living room for days at a time and she cannot imagine ever being able to do that. And she really hates herself for it.

My suggestion? Do your best with what you have and extend a whole lot of grace to yourself and to others. It's easier said than done, I know. But wouldn't it be better to go ahead and invite people into your home even if it isn't immaculate? Do you really notice the dust and clutter and mis-matched upholstery in someone else's home? My guess is that you don't. You are probably too busy appreciating the cup of tea that has just been handed you to notice those things. Relationships win out every time.

My other piece of advice? If there is something really bothering you about your house, do something about it. Do you hate the clutter and is the clutter making you unhappy? This you can fix. Not instantly, but you can. But first you need to decide that you really want it fixed so much you're willing to get rid of stuff. Are the curtains (or lack of curtains) just causing your teeth to grind every time you think about it? Well, change them. Yes, I know store-bought curtains are prohibitively expensive, but there are other options. Frequent thrift stores and look for new ones there or to find fabric that can be made into new curtains. Don't sew? Find a friend who does and offer to trade skills. You hate the size of your kitchen? Well, you may not be able to fix it, but you can fix your attitude. This is a chance to practice the glad game. There are plenty of things to be glad for a small kitchen... you don't have to walk as far, it keeps you from buying all those kitchen items that really aren't needed, it forces you to keep things clean, and the clincher, many people do not even have a kitchen and would be thrilled with yours. Plus, the size of your kitchen does not determine the quality of your food or the amount of food you can make. (Trust me on this. I fed many, many people, many, many meals from a very small kitchen. It really can be done.) But do not let something like this limit your joy in hospitality.

So, stop worrying about how others view you. What really matters is how God views you. And since He already knows everything about you, there is no need to act as though you are something you aren't. And once you begin to be your true self, it will be an encouragement for others. Letting others see how you really are can be scary, but ultimately freeing. A freedom that allows you to stop focusing on yourself so much and begin to focus on others.

Today is Harvey's day. Please pray for this little one who so desperately needs the love of a family.

This is Harvey. He is 3 years old and is the size of an infant. Harvey is extremely malnourished and also has some cranial-facial issues. This little one also touches my heart since K. was malnourished (at some points in his life, rather extremely) and two of my children have cranial-facial issues. It is something that sounds very scary, I know. But my children are so much more than their diagnoses. This little boy has never known what it is to be loved and cared for. Doesn't he deserve at least that?


Dana said…
"This you can fix." I love that. Thanks for the pep talk.

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