Recently while perusing my Facebook stream, I gave my usual overly dramatic eye roll to some quiz about how you rate yourself. Pa-LEASE! Who has time for those stupid quizzes? Then, of course, I quickly gave myself a mental rating without having to suffer through the quiz. (You now can give ME an overly dramatic eye roll). Disclaimer – I do not often lack self-confidence – my initial rating was pretty high. My initial response to any challenge is usually positive and self-assured (you know, glass half full!). But then later that day, alone with my thoughts, I became aware of how poorly I was rating myself on a variety of fronts, throughout the day. You see when I examine the motives of my heart, and weigh all that I know to do versus all that I do, I can be very negative on how I “rate”.
I find that especially happens to me as a special mom. After 14 years I have become an expert on what can and should be done. I am painfully aware that there are therapeutic activities and protocols and sensory inputs and blah blah blah that we could and should do all day every day. If I were truly a good mom, surely I would be doing more, better, more consistently all these things, no?
Here is what I have figured out. Not only in my efforts for my child, but this particular truth applies to all mom, parents, or maybe people in general. The most dangerous thoughts in my day are: is I’m not doing enough, not good enough, not willing enough, and not solid enough. No matter who you are and how much you’ve done, this accusation will creep in. It diminishes all that you are. The result, for me, it that these thoughts paralyze me so that I do nothing at all.
Here’s an example that I recently keep bumping into: Healthy lifestyle, including both diet and exercise. I realized a few years back that the fitness of my physical body is completely optional, and fully dependent on me (my own personal midlife crisis!). I spent my first 40 years eating and doing whatever I wanted, completely oblivious to any physical consequence. Treating my body well, intentionally, had never occurred to me. Sure I had cycled through lots of diets and gym memberships, but not to take care of body, rather to force it to conform with my vain desires. Finally at 40 I started to pay attention to what I put into my mouth for the purpose of taking better care of myself. Over the next few years I read, researched and studied more ways to accomplish that goal. I gradually added (or subtracted) more layers to my self-care knowledge and regiment.
Here’s the problem with all of the above: I can be tempted to believe I’m not doing enough and therefore, my efforts are pointless. For goodness sakes, I am currently in possession of the knowledge that my bakeware is bad, my beauty items are poison, my cleaning products are pollution, the list is endless. So what happens? If I focus on what I’m not doing, I’m already defeated. It’s over. I can easily tell myself I’m not doing enough, and so I stop doing anything. Although the truth is that I’ve made lots of changes and my body benefits each time I make one good choice, I can rate myself as a failure because I’m not doing it all. If I look at my shortcomings, my strengths get no attention.
Philippians 3: 12-13 says:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul makes a point to let everyone know that being perfect isn’t where he focuses, it isn’t realistic. He doesn’t focus on his shortcoming or what he’s missing, he just keeps looking at the goal and working towards it. What’s your goal? Being a perfect parent, or perfectly fit, or a perfect wife, friend, employee are all goals, but they’re never actually going to be achieved! Beating myself up over what I’m not doing, doesn’t accomplish the goal. Perfection is not possible but if I follow Paul’s example, I press towards perfection….one little choice at a time. That’s all.
I can press towards being a perfect mom or being fit, by just looking towards the goal, making one right choice, and then pressing towards it again tomorrow. As long as I forget what’s behind me (forget about the bad choices I made yesterday) then I’m doing what I need to do. The Message Bible says it like this:
Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
That’s my goal today. That’s my motto. As long as I don’t turn back, I can rate myself with the Apostle Paul.