When Did We Stop Trying?
by Kristina Matz
Facebook was founded in February of 2004. Instagram was launched in 2010. Pinterest was first launched in March 2010. The addition of each of these has changed a lot about our culture in the last 7-13 years. No one can deny the fact that social media and things like Pinterest have put extra pressure on moms to "perform". If we give in to it, we can feel a burden of perfection as we decorate our house, bake a cake, or plan our child's next birthday party. I admit that I've felt this pressure myself at times. But what truly saddens me is what I've seen emerge in more recent years.
I remember when I was first learning how to drive. When I needed to turn right I would turn the steering wheel way right and then, in an attempt to correct, I would turn the steering wheel way left. It's that huge overcorrection that I've seen happen with moms across the country (and beyond our borders, I'm sure). We have gone from climbing the ladder of perfection to sitting in the middle of dirty homes with our hands thrown up. Here is the wording from a few mom and house cleaning memes floating around the internet...
You know you're a mom when... You've been washing the same load of laundry for 3 days because you keep forgetting to put it in the dryer!
My daughter just asked me to give her a bath. I told her to go with Daddy, because Mommy needed to take care of her wine.
The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink.
All these moms are on Pinterest making their own soap and reindeer-shaped treats, and I'm all like "I took a shower and kept the kids alive."
I'm going to start cleaning my house. And by cleaning, I mean drinking wine and spraying everything with Febreze.
You know that amazing feeling when you go to bed knowing your entire house is clean? Ya, neither do I.
On the surface these seem harmless, I'll even laugh at a couple. Admittedly, I have had to wash the same load of laundry three times before. But something dangerous happens when we allow these "funny" statements to become an excuse for our lack of faithfulness and diligence. When these statements become our new norm, rather than an example of a poorly planned or unusually difficult day. I am afraid that is what is happening. Mothers have longed to be out from under the shadow of unrealistic perfection that social media has cast, but we have grossly overcorrected!
Following the Wrong Example
There is a big difference between recognizing the real difficulties of motherhood and encouraging one another in them and getting so worn down that we let these difficulties consume us and become our excuse for a job poorly done. I'm here, raising my hand with the rest of you moms, agreeing that our job is difficult. But, honestly, what good work isn't? The question is not whether or not the task at hand is a difficult one, but rather what (or Who) are we using as our measuring stick. The problem with the memes, and the ideas they represent, is the same problem with the pursuit of Pinterest perfect parties. We are using lateral comparisons to place value on what we are or are not accomplishing. Only one comparison will benefit us as we pursue to be a mother and homemaker that glorifies the Lord.
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men..." Colossians 3:23
"...rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man..." Ephesians 6:7
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
We have made a grave mistake by letting other mothers (and what they are or are not doing) become our aim. Paul tells the Corinthians that he makes it his aim to please Christ (2 Cor. 5:9) and our aim needs to be the same! While it is good and worthwhile to have mentor women in our life that we can use as examples of godliness (1 Cor. 11:1), our aim needs to be Christ. So what will that look like in our life?
The Right Kind of Perfection
When we decide what "worldly perfection" looks like and then aim to attain it, frustration and failure will be sure to follow. But biblical perfection, found in the person of Jesus Christ, is a worthy and blessed pursuit! Worldly perfection is often about stuff. It is an aesthetic perfection based on the opinions of others and, therefore, is severely inconsistent. Biblical perfection is about the heart. It is found in the pages of God's Word and is the most consistent thing you'll ever find!
We have gone from trying too hard to hardly trying. We have lost sight of what God calls good. Things like order and hard work. Should our homes be clean? Yes! Should our laundry be done? Yes! Should our children be fed good and nutritious food? Yes! Because in these ways, through these tasks, God is glorified. When someone stops by and finds our home tidy and in order, God is glorified. When our husbands open their drawers to find clean t-shirts, God is glorified. When our children sleep well because their bellies are full of good and comforting food, God is glorified.
I know this will not happen every day. And I know that some seasons will be more difficult than others (newborn in the house, here!). But our aim needs to be a quality of work that brings glory and honor to our Heavenly Father. God has not called you and I to be mothers so that we can "barely make it" day after day. He has called us to thrive as a mother! And why? So that He might be glorified in and through our work. What a privilege to glorify our Lord with the work of our hands and the work of our hearts.
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Lack of fulfillment should be viewed as a wonderful warning alarm going off in our soul. It tells us that we have forgotten the “why” of everything that we’re doing. Or, more appropriately, the “Who”.