Friday, July 23, 2010
Flickr photo by Tasayu Tasnaphun, creative commons
I was standing in the parking lot at Target, melting into the asphalt as Sam ran back to the car for his wallet, when I realized that a young woman was talking to me.
"I hate those things," she said, nodding at the stick figure family decal on the back of somebody's SUV. She must have thought I was staring at it.
"Yeah," she nodded. "Mommy scorecard."
Mommy scorecard? I'd see those decals all around town, stick figure mommies and daddies and lines of kids. Sometimes they'd tote soccer balls or wear ballet tutus, and cats and dogs always trailed behind.
Now, before we go any further, please don't think I'm stick family hating!
If you want to celebrate each member of your family, I say, why not! Peel and stick away!
It's just that for me, mommy scorecard strikes a spinal chord.
Too often I've sneaked glances at other people's papers as I've lived out my life. I've pulled up next to them in the parking lot of life and checked out how we compare. Did we have the complete package, the happy couple, the full set of kids? Smiles on their faces, pompoms and flutes in hand?
When I was a younger mom, home with a two year old and a newborn, while Todd traveled constantly with work, people would see Ben spitting up on my shoulder and Sarah tugging on my jeans, and say, "I don't know how you do it, night after night by yourself."
I'd paw a foot at the floor and do my best Aw, it's no big deal, and then casually see if I could work in a comment about the grad school class I was taking or the volunteering I had to do. It made me feel good for a moment, for someone to recognize my hard work and exhaustion, the perfect picture I was trying to project. But I'd always end up feeling a little empty when the conversation was over.
We want people to see us as complete and successful.
Sometimes we tout our own completeness and success and possessions loudly-we sneak them into conversations or wear them like sandwich boards- because underneath it all, we're scared. We know the truth, that we're broken, we don't really have it all together. Life isn't the perfect picture we want to paint.
As I tuck the scorecard in my purse, I also wonder about those of us who don't match up to the picture on the window, whether through choice or circumstance. The single person, the couple that doesn't have the urge to go forth and multiply. The pair that wants children desperately, but life is cruel and won't cooperate. The families that fall apart.
I hope they know the truth that I took years to find. That God loves us as we are, whether we match the world's ideal or not, whether we do the volunteer work or just sit in front of the TV. That our sad little efforts to mold ourselves to the perfect picture in our heads won't make God love us any more than God already does. He only asks us to do what Galatians advises.
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that... Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
Galatians 6:4, The Message
Do the creative best you can with your own life.
That's a tall order, but one I think I can handle.
What does doing the creative best with your own life mean to you?
Have a wonder-full Friday, y'all!