When I was a little girl my parents used to watch a lot of British TV — who are we kidding, they still watch a lot of British TV! In fact, I am not sure if my mom realizes that America also makes television shows. Nevertheless, a show they often watched was called Keeping Up Appearances. Even as a kid I thought this show was funny because the main character, Hyacinth, was always doing something ridiculous to make people THINK she was so much more than the “commoners” around her. Now, on the eve of Halloween, when people put on makeup and masks pretending to be something or someone they are not, I begin to wonder about myself and how often I am like Hyacinth, one who appears to have it all together outwardly, but who could, at any moment, completely fall apart inwardly. Anyone who knows me personally also knows that I will never have a career in politics, but if I am lucky or keep my mouth shut long enough, I might make it to the “big leagues,” joining the ranks of the few and the proud, the PTO MOMS. Then again, this is unlikely since I have never been one to keep my opinion to myself and I also ask questions, lots of questions. While growing up, a good friend would become so frustrated with me because I would ask her, “Why are we doing this? What is the point of all of this?” To which she would reply, “Because it is what we do, okay!?” Anyways, tonight, while I was putting together treat bags for my child’s preschool Halloween party (let’s be honest — I do not want to be the only mom who did not send something with her child for every class party . . . grrrr!), the Lord convicted me about how much I might be doing in order to keep up appearances.
One of the reasons I started writing is because I have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my mind. If you have ever talked to me then you know that sometimes you need to ask for a synopsis of our conversation as it nears an end because I tend to jump around . . . a lot . . . and ramble (which may be the same as “jump around”), but, duh, you’re aware of this because you are reading my blog! Even so, lately I have had a really tough time with feelings of less than, an ongoing struggle that I have shared with you before. You’re probably wondering, “less than what, exactly?” I would like to answer that, but truth is, it could by anything, just fill in the blank, as the object of those feelings shifts from moment to moment! At times I feel like a phony because friends who discuss problems with me often say, “Laura, you have it all together.” Well, let me tell ya somethin’, I DON’T! One of my favorite sayings while growing up was, “Build a bridge and get over it!” And I am building, but feel like the little pig who built his house out of straw, because my bridge seems to fall down pretty regularly. I am specifically having issues with body image and have always struggled with this, which I have also shared before. The mirror is my worst enemy; I cringe at pictures, and lately have been obsessed with comparing myself to other women my age who are moms. As women, we are so critical of ourselves, sometimes internally tearing ourselves apart internally when we are with each other. My husband likes to blame It on hormonal issues after having my second child, and while I would like to say that is the cause for these less than feelings, I know that the heart of the issue is my heart. The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” My heart should be treasuring my relationship with Christ and how much He loves and cares for me, “knowing my innermost being, having knit me and formed me in mother’s womb.“ Psalm 139: 13. But instead, I allow Satan to control my thoughts, causing me to obsess over the way I look (or don’t look). Y’all, I hate to admit it, but recently I have been on social media, pulling out old photos, searching the internet far and wide to give me some sort of affirmation in this area, but let me tell ya somethin’, the affirmation I seek is not there and never will be!
The more I search for the perfect workout routine, the more I fail and cheat on my “diet” (the one that will make me look like a 5’8”, 110 lb. super model, all while eating chick-fil-a sandwiches and a bucket of my daughter’s Halloween candy), the deeper I fall into that dark hole where feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing abound. I mean, it would not have anything to do with the fact I set major unrealistic goals or would it?!? I do not know if I told you all this, but in my mind, I am kind of like Super Woman and can do everything. See, I do not have time to accept help from other people, or be sick, or tired, or take breaks, because everyone else needs my attention. HA! Yeah, right — that’s what I keep telling myself, LIES that Satan wants me to believe because he wants me to run myself down and then run to a new diet book or to social media to play the comparison game to re-charge. Why? Because all those things turn me away from the TRUTH in God’s Word. It is tough, really tough, because everything the world tells us contradicts what the Bible tells us. I am not saying that we should not be mindful of what we eat, or exercise, or run a comb through our hair or “paint the barn” if needed, as my mother would say. I think all of those things benefit us physically and mentally and just make us feel better overall. Yet, this becomes a problem when these actions dictate how we live for others, or in my case, stop living for God. Appearances might fool people, but they never fool God; I Samuel 16:7 says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
In closing, I wish that I could tell you that despite all of the above, I feel like a “rose among thorns,” having dived deep into my Bible in search of God’s treasures. Uhh, no. It is a daily struggle for me, and right now, I am failing miserably, having some really hard days (with the diving and the feelings). Instead of spending precious time with my girls, I am wasting it trying every workout known to man, only to binge on food I deprived myself of during the day once my girls go to bed!?! Recently, while I was getting ready for church, still in curlers and with no makeup, my oldest said, “Mommy, I am so glad you are my mommy; you are so pretty.” Thank goodness I had not yet applied my usual heavy swipe of mascara, because I would have had major raccoon eyes after that! I believe she genuinely meant what she said, because to her, I am her mommy, the one who takes care of her, and loves her, and belongs to her. She sees me as beautiful, just as I see my mother and my grandmother, and of course, now, my daughters. I know God was speaking through her, for as I read and meditate upon His Word, I experience more encounters like this one with my daughter. I may not literally hear God’s voice, but boy, do I hear Him through people! As I’ve written before, my mom has repeatedly said, “It is not what is taught but caught” that has the most impact. Our children are watching us, they are watching how we treat others and our husbands, their fathers, but more importantly, ourselves. So, next time we start to pinch that side of “extra love” or go to the pantry to fill some emotional void, wouldn’t it be somethin’ if we just stopped and, instead, recalled the times God has spoken to us through His Word and through others to reassure us of the beauty that we may not see in ourselves but is seen by others and by our Heavenly Father, who is so glad that we belong to Him!