Mommy Confession: I am not a scrapbooker. There. I said it. Take a deep breath and move forward. I have friends that scrapbook. They perfectly catalogue every moment of their families’ lives with beauty and creativity. The books are gorgeous. And I’ll admit, I’m a bit jealous. At one time in my life I attempted such feats of creativity. I have succeeded in finishing nothing. My wedding album got as far as the engagement, and my daughter’s baby album didn’t quite make it to her 1st birthday party. My little court jester will never have a baby book. He may end up in therapy for that particular rebellion on my part, but you know what? I’m actually okay with that.
First, this is not an anti-scrapbooking blog. Please, stay with me here. I do eventually have a point. When my daughter was three I was still trying to piece together fragments of her first year by dutifully cutting out pictures and journaling on pages. It was then I realized scrapbooking, or my lack of ability to finish a layout in under two hours, was a source of enormous guilt and anxiety for me. I began to ask myself, why am I doing this? In those quiet moments I realized I only did it because I felt like that was what a good mommy was supposed to do. With absolute clarity, and a sudden flash of genius, I knew that having a digital library of categorized photos was enough for me. And it would be enough for my kids. I have since put away the scrapbooking materials and really only looked back once or twice.
You see, as moms, we yearn for simplicity. Yet, if we really begin to examine our lives, we would see how complex we actually make it. Simplicity. The more I ponder the word, the more I find myself basking in its glow. Simplicity. Ahh…It’s like a spa day in my mind.
Dictionary.com defines the word simplicity in this way: freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into parts. I love the first word of the definition…Freedom. Halleluiah! Isn’t that what women really want at the very depths of our being? However, I believe there is one singular problem that strips us from any possibility of achieving the dream of simplicity and ultimately freedom. In one word—Expectations.
As women, we become slaves to the expectations of society. Our expectations often drive us to do or be something society says we as women have to be, rather than settling into the woman God has called us to be. There is an enormous difference between the two. Galatians 5:1 says this, “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” (MSG) I believe the “anyone” in this verse includes me. I place myself in bondage every time I attempt to live up to my own unattainable expectations instead of Christ’s.
As women today we find ourselves buried under the high-pressure expectations place upon us by each other, our families, and ourselves. I spent way too much time filled with guilt over scrapbooking because I was attempting to meet the expectations of a societal definition for the perfect mom. For you, it may not be the scrapbook. But what is it? What are you doing in life to meet someone’s expectations instead of God’s? Maybe it’s having the perfectly decorated home? Maybe it’s trying to be the perfect hostess with everything homemade? Maybe it’s always feeling like you have to look perfect?
I have this theory. If the activity brings about added stress to your family, it may not be an expectation of the Father. Therefore, you must examine it, pray about it. Ask God if the activity is His plan for you. You may absolutely love to scrapbook. It may be therapy for you—no stress involved. I would say then, keep doing it! However, if it brings nothing but stress…it may be time to throw in the proverbial towel.
Sometimes we may not be able to do what we enjoy all the time. There are seasons to life. I love to bake. It’s fun for me and only stressful if I add it to an already jam-packed day. I will bake because that is part of how God made me. However, if you show up to my house for a play date during the school year, I my just offer you coffee and goldfish instead of my semi-famous scones. And lately, in order to be the mommy God called me to be, I am the one to show up at classroom parties with store-bought cupcakes. I am okay with that too. I am learning to be okay with the imperfect. Okay with less doing and more just being. I am learning to be okay with only meeting the expectations of my Jesus instead of those I place on myself based on feats of perfection other women might be capable of attaining.
Ultimately, my point is this—instead of trying to meet the expectations of so many people, what if we simply tried to meet the expectations of God the Father? Be the woman HE wants us to be. Talk about a change in perspective. We find simplicity when we begin to seek His heart and His will for our lives. It is at the very core of Christ. Simple doesn’t mean easy, but it does bring freedom.
Our Jesus offers us simplicity. It is His desire to carry our burdens of unmet expectations and shoulder our weight of a complex life. Only when we seek to become the woman God created each of us to be, can we truly find the freedom we so long to have.