When I was in high school, I remember walking out to my car one morning and seeing the words ‘You’re a whore’ written on the window. I think we can all agree that the saying Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you is a complete lie. Those words hurt me a lot. And I carried them in my heart for years, wondering if that’s what people thought of me.
Until I came across four very important words in Mark.
“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Take courage!’ they said. ‘Get up! He is calling for you.’ Throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and came to Jesus.” – Mark 10:49-50
As a child, I struggled with OCD-induced anxiety. In an attempt to protect our kids from a similar experience, my husband and I agreed to always reassure them after spills or messes. Life isn’t perfect, and that’s okay was our parenting motto. That turned out to be especially important for our daughter, who would seek affirmation after doing something she considered bad. Every time she knocked over a drink or tipped over a plate full of food, she would ask us things like, “But it will be okay, right?” or “But we can fix it, right?” and we would usually respond with a quick, “Yes, it will be alright, but let’s try to be more careful.”
I assumed she only asked those questions to make sure she wasn’t in trouble until one day after a few cheerios fell off of her tray, she looked at me and asked, “But you still love me, right?”
I have always hated the saying, “You can’t win them all.”
In the interest of transparency, I admit that I am a recovering people-pleaser. I hate the idea of offending or upsetting anyone. I sometimes lay awake at night wondering if I could have phrased something better or if I should have handled a situation differently. Years after a negative confrontation, I can still feel my ears heat up when I think about it.
All this to say, I very badly want to win them all. I want everyone to like me, even though I know that’s not a realistic expectation, especially when I share my personal thoughts on a public platform. That’s just the life of a blogger.
I was curled up next to my husband under a blanket wearing my cozy pajamas, and I felt so good because I knew that I had loved my babies well that day. I had defused multiple meltdowns, managed not to lose my temper, and spent over an hour playing in the floor while my toddler filled the house with belly laughs and my baby cooed and gurgled.
That moment felt so amazing because of its rarity. The truth is that those days are few and far between. More often than not, I end the night frazzled and wondering if I expressed my love well enough.
When I was in college, I helped chaperone a youth trip to a Christian conference.
During a night of worship, one of the girls on the trip burst into tears. I walked with her outside of the room so that we could talk and, as she began telling me some of the heavy things she was struggling with, I asked, “Lord, what do I say?”
You know who might not be the best candidate for spreading the Good News? Someone who is perpetually expecting bad news. I’ve been there. I prefer to call myself a realist, but the truth is that I am often cynical, expecting the worst from people and situations. I let my past hurts and disappointments color the way I see the things around me.
Most recently, as I prepared for the end of my maternity leave, I found myself stressing out over all of the unknowns and coming to the worst possible conclusions: We aren’t going to be able to find a good daycare. He’s not going to take his bottle. There’s no way we are going to pay off all of these medical bills.
A few days ago, while I was in the middle of one of my pessimistic breakdowns, God revealed something to me:
Pessimism is viewing the world through our own scars instead of His scars.
Life with a toddler is always interesting. It’s the age where children are learning to express their thoughts and emotions, but don’t always understand how to reason through them. It’s the age where the wrong sippy cup can lead to a meltdown and every simple yes or no decision can take half an hour.
Last week my two-year-old told me she was starving, so I laid out a spread of her favorite foods: turkey, apples, cheese, sweet potatoes, peas, and blueberries. Naturally, the “starving” toddler took three blueberries and one piece of cheese and decided that was all she wanted. Not ten minutes later, she looked up and said, “Mommy, I’m still hungry.”