Absolutes. Women make them all the time. We experience a stressor, a hurt, or even a simple inconvenience and we swear we will avoid XY and Z FOREVER so that we will not go through it again.
My most common absolutes often stem from living life in imperfect home. Now, my house is not trashed, there aren’t hoarded piles anywhere, but sometimes I have to wash a dish before I can use it. Sometimes I have to dig through clean clothes to find socks for myself and my family. Sometimes I need to clear a spot on the counter to set something down. I give these moments the power to absolutely wreck my day. It looks trivial as I write them down, but talk to any mother who has had to wash a specific color of sippy cup while her toddler screams at her knees. This is real life, friends.
So every few months I download a new chore list. If I clean a little every day, life will be great again! I keep it up a couple weeks, but slowly lose my focus. The cycle repeats. This morning was no different. I haven’t followed by schedule, and was worn down as l looked around my home. I felt badly about myself, my role as mother and wife, and the reflection I think my home has on who I am. I felt like a failure.
You know who else thinks those things about me? Absolutely no one.
Certainly not my husband who lovingly takes care of me. He would rather I sit with him each evening after the kids are in bed, talking about our days, sharing our plans, and talking through our crazy plans to have a hobby farm. (Side note: ask him how many questions I can come up with about cows. My ignorance of farming is scary.) My children would rather I have snack with them after they get off the bus. True we do our little chores, but Bedroom Reading Time is gaining their support slowly but surely. And watching their minds turn while we play mancala is priceless.
Today I devalued those precious moments by swearing that I would FOREVER AND ALWAYS keep my house clean. What? Why on earth would I promise to clean the floor instead of reading my daughter a story? Why would I sacrifice sleep to do dishes? I continue to choose the lesser important task over the more important task.
My cleaning absolute is small. Trust me, I’ve made many questionable decisions. They range from the vane desires to appear like I have it all together, all the way to the cringe-worthy-all-too-familiar-crying-into-my-pillow vow after a late night fight to guard myself against my husband, the very man who sacrifices himself daily for me. I’ve fooled myself into thinking God can only work in my life if I NEVER miss a quiet time.
Determining to follow an absolute builds a wall around a hardened heart. I know that my God can only work in me when my heart is soft, raw, exposed. Trying to be a perfect Stepford wife damages my relationship with my family, my friends, and my Christ. Keeping track of absolutes and trying to control everything will only lead to more stress, strained relationships, and, in my case, legitimate panic attacks.
I want to be vulnerable. I want close, deep relationships. For goodness sakes I want to be able to relax in my own home, regardless of it’s appearance. I want to be loving towards my husband and children. Giving of yourself as a wife and mother goes so much deeper than taking care of your home. You’re taking care of hearts, you’re teaching character, you’re supporting a man who, quite honestly, doesn’t always know how to handle you emotionally. And therein lies the rub. The strength you need to do all those things is only found in a relationship with Christ.
I’m going to claim my truths. If you haven’t read through that post, go check out my post, My One Self. I’m going to force myself to look at the big picture. I’m going to talk through the snowball as it avalanches all the way down the mountain I’ve made in my mind. Because at the bottom I won’t find tragedy. True, I may find that I need to wash a cup with a crying child, or even have a really tough conversation. But it won’t end me. God gives me the strength to do ALL things. Even when that thing is digging for a sock through frustrated tears.
"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; It will be unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable." C. S. Lewis