Wednesday, September 18, 2013

She's Only a Figment of Your Vain Imaginations

She's not real, you know?  She doesn't exist.  You continue, day after day, to measure yourself by her standard, but she's a fraud.  A lie.  A misrepresentation.  A vain imagination.

There are no perfect mothers.

There are no perfect wives.

There are no perfect homes.

Every mother goes through ups and downs with her children.  Every mother has deep fears that her kids won't "turn out" right.  Every mother wonders if she's doing as much good as she is damage.  Every mother worries that her kid is going to do something, someday that will be put on a public display, and effectively communicate to the world that the truth is, no matter how often she tries to prove otherwise, she just really isn't a good mom.

It's sad, because while each and every one of us are "that" mom, we simply refuse to say so.  Our Facebooks, accountability groups, Twitter feeds and Instagrams tell beautiful stories of God-honoring children that respect their elders and have grand visions for their futures.  And while those stories are probably very true, we only share half of the truth.  We run to social media when we're on a parental high, but I don't see anyone posting from the other pages in their books.

If we were honest, half of our posts would look like this:

"If my teenager stomps out of the living room mumbling under his breath one more time..."

"I was totally humiliated by the clothes my teenage daughter chose to wear out in public today!"

"Some days, I feel like my kids would rather be ANYWHERE on the planet than at home with their family."

"I don't like my children today.  I am sick to death of the rebellion and disrespect."

"When it comes to their Spiritual walk, my kids are all talk and no action.  It scares me to think of what kind of adults I'm breeding over here."

But that's not what our feeds look like at all, is it?  And because they don't, we do two very dangerous things.

First of all, we rob ourselves of the joy of having sisters come alongside us and hold us up until the good times come.

Second, and probably worst of all, we alienate every single mother on the planet.  We, by only sharing the good stuff, effectively write "failure" onto the mirrors of every mother that reads our version of "life" that we choose to share.

Have you been there?  Have you read  one more post from a super mom with beautiful, passionate, artistic, sensitive, benevolent, prudent, wise children and thought, "Lord, why can't I be more like her?"

Well, dear mother who believes that what goes on behind your doors never happens in other homes, I think you are more like her than you think.

We're in a pickle.  And we're in it together.  We live in a culture where our children's lives are on display (whether we display them or not.)  Gone are the days that "sin" could be handled within the quiet wisdom of a family.  Now sins, failures and shortcomings are on such display that mothers feel more like agents than shepherds or stewards of souls.  Culture tries to tell us that our real jobs are to cover up the failures of our offspring until they are "good" enough to unveil.  Culture tells us that our real job is to parade the accomplishments of our children so that our audiences are effectively distracted from the fact that our kids don't pray, give or say no to sin.  Culture says that it's okay if, after reading of the blatant rebellion of another kid in the community, you sigh a big sigh of relief because, after all, your kid is still okay.

Well, why?  Why do we do it?  Why do we continue to put our children on shaky pedestals and then let it destroy us when they totter?  Why do we say we love and support other mothers, but then only share enough of our lives to make sure that they feel like total and complete failures?  Why do we refuse to be vulnerable enough to help a neighbor with their kid, even when it means that their kid will ultimately influence our own? Why do we continue to believe that what people believe about us trumps what God knows about us?  Why do we read in the Bible that the confession of sin is the beginning of a changed life, and then do EVERYTHING in our power to make sure that our children do NOT confess sin?

Why?  Because we are our second worst enemy.  Our first-place enemy tempts us with a deep, thick, ugly pride that whispers, "You're only as good as they think you are," and we swallow his venom.  And we enjoy it.  Don't kid yourselves.  We enjoy those posts that make us believe our children are safe from the apples in the garden.  We enjoy that smug feeling when people tell us how good our kids are.  We even secretly enjoy that sick, slick confidence that creeps in when we're watching another mother wallow in the shame of her child's sin.

We love it.  If we didn't, we wouldn't do it.  If it didn't make us feel so good, we'd probably be spending our time searching the Scriptures to see what God says to do about our troubles.  If it didn't make us feel so smug, we'd probably be knocking on the door of a humiliated mom to give her a hug.  If it didn't let us off the hook for the things we know but don't show, we would probably be planning community meetings in an effort to save our children from one trap or another.  If it didn't make us feel so superior, we'd probably be on our knees, begging the All-knowing, All-seeing Father to break us and mold us into the people He wants us to be.

I will close with a confession.

I don't want to be the mom that uses the humiliations and failures of other moms to fortify my self-esteem.  I don't want to be the kind of mom that cares so much about what you think of me that I refuse to take an honest look at the relationships my children have with their Creator.  I don't want to be the kind of mom that has a terribly bad day with my children but tells you that everything is amazing.  I don't want to be the reason you feel like a failure.  I don't want to sacrifice the depth of my family's understanding of confession and repentance just so I get an invite to your party.  I, personally, want to be done with the pride that ensures our self-fulfilling prophesy of failure and destruction.

Lord, help me.