Erin E. McEndree
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
There was a woman who thought that if she could get everything accomplished all at once, her life would be manageable because she could finally keep up with all her duties and responsibilities each day. She thought that if she could get all the laundry done, even the tub of socks matched, she could make it stay that way. She thought that if she could get the whole kitchen clean, even under the fridge and in the stove, she could make it stay that way. She thought that if she cleaned up the clutter, she could manage it daily like the FlyLady suggests (FlyLady.net). She also thought if she could make her husband, son and daughter get all of their stuff organized, she could make them keep it that way. This was her grand plan for dusting, vacuuming, toilets, meal planning, grocery shopping and pet messes… to make it stay that way.
What she didn’t realize is that for this plan to work, she could not work outside the home, she wold have to miss activities with her kids. She would have to neglect her husband, stay up late, wake up ridiculously early and have dictator-like rules. She would have to deny her children times in the mud, playing with chalk on the porch and making concoctions in the kitchen.
Do you remember what Bob said in the Incredibles? “No matter how many times you save the world, it manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved!”
I…ahem…I mean, this woman has been know to say, “I wish it would just stay that way!” to her husband and two kids hoping she could get them on board with her fail-safe plan to keep clutter at bay and the home tidy and clean.
"I wish it would just stay that way!"
Truthfully, this woman is me and I know I’m not alone. What I came to realize, was my dream of maintaining a clean house, home cooked meals, and a well oiled family machine was really nagging my family into a rigorous and unattainable goal. They were walking on egg shells and trepid around me. It was leaving me in emotional, spiritual, relational and physical poverty because I was depleting myself of present blessings right in front of me. In trying to control all these aspects of my life, I came to serve already empty, thus, giving my leftovers instead of my best.
(Aside: These two men in their 60s just sat at the table next to me and one man said, “People think the grass is always greener on the other side.” Without knowing it, he confirmed the point to this article.)
Let’s make the grass green where we stand by giving up on the perfect ideal of what a woman and mom look like. Our lofty mom expectations probably comes from perfect FaceBook post, glam celebrity sightings and self-help authors who seem to all have it together. Comparing our life to all that is not all that.
I admit, every time I hear the Proverbs 31 Woman discussed, I ALWAYS say, “Well, she had servants. Give me several servants and maybe I could pull that off, too.”
So how do we begin to keep the fuel in our tank, keep our sanity, have better relationships with our families and have peace? Give up! Yes, it sounds counter intuitive, but giving up is the best way to get what we desperately think a clean, well manicured lawn and perfect looking kids will accomplish.
Give up worldly control for God’s rest: When I gave up control, it freed me. I began not to care about the process as long as the goal was met. I allowed my kids to fold towels any way they wanted. They started doing their own laundry or they didn’t have clothes. They also had to help with many other duties before playing games or taking a break. I am free from that responsibility which teaches them responsibility. They also get to work along side my husband and I. Our whole family sat in the floor and has a sock party with the tub of socks. I’m free from overwhelm. Emotionally I feel better.
Give up worldly comparison to become like Christ: All this media is one big comparison trap. It is so difficult to live on our green grass and love the moment instead of wish it all away for something we perceive as better. Comparison causes anxiety. A friend asked if she should give goodie bags at her son’s birthday party. She said she didn’t want to, but every other mom does. Give it up mama! I carry around a quote in my bible: To live authentically means you don’t care what other parents do or think. Write down your family values as a team and develop confidence striving for your values not the values of your friends.
Give up expectations for the joy of surprises: Some people hate surprises. But, knowing all is also a type of control. It is micromanaging. It really stresses people out around you, too. Allow things to fall into place naturally. Allow your kids to make their own decisions and mistakes. Mistakes while young with small consequences are better than mistakes while older with big consequences. When I stopped micromanaging my son in 8th grade and his school work, I was free. I stopped looking in his backpack. I stopped telling him about every failing grade (I get an automated email for that). I stopped grumbling at his lack of effort. It freed me! I put the responsibility on him and gave up my expectation of great grades. Every kid doesn’t make As and my pressure was just making him feel worthless. Our whole family felt the pressure lift when I put the responsibility at his feet.
Give up worldly waste for eternal abundance: How many times do we choose a vacant, void and empty lifestyle instead of one of abundance overflowing with plenty? We choose FaceBook instead of the Word. We choose bitterness instead of grace. We choose worldly poverty instead of eternal riches such as forgiveness. We choose grudges instead of mercy. We choose to take the difficult path and wonder why things don’t work out. Giving up on what this world offers looks and feels so hard, but the benefits are amazing. Our purpose is to live counter to this world and that goes against all our desires, but it frees the soul.
Give up on these life-sucking strongholds to release you from spiritual, physical, relational and emotional poverty and bondage. You can learn to be free to serve in love, anticipate in hope and work for purpose.
Control, comparison, expectations and wastefulness keep you in a poverty lifestyle that depletes you of energy to be who God created you to be. The desire of your heart is under piles and piles of waste that acts like quick sand pulling you under a suffocating life.
My house may be a little messier, but I’m not going to ever say I wish I would have sacrificed family for memories.
Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” I have truly applied this and strive to find the green grass I am standing on each day.