My father-in-law talks about how at each big life transition, our biggest challenges/insecurities will re-rear their ugly heads. College, marriage, parenthood, etc., will all be places where we will need to learn or, perhaps, re-learn how to lay down our little monsters. I say, truth.
For me, one of my biggest vices is to take direct responsibility for the happiness of the people around me. If anything is less than satisfactory, I will have failed (that’s some claaaasic enneagram 2 business if you’re familiar). Needless to say, this is a pretty doggone tiresome way to live (as well as slightly narcissistic IMO).
Let’s go back, back to the beginning. In my family of origin, there were five VERY different personalities, so my internal tug-of-war to please everyone was fierce. Once I got to college, I had some pretty stark realizations that I couldn’t be the primary contributor to everyone’s joy and satisfaction. This was not an expectation of my family, but something very self-imposed. As I learned to lay down the responsibility of being a happiness-bearer, I found it both liberating and scary to accept the possibility that I might disappoint people with my choices to show up differently, or not show up at all.
This lesson/struggle also showed up as I navigated friendships and co-working relationships. Thankfully, I would start noticing when I would stay up all night thinking through conversations of how I could have been more encouraging, present, kind, etc., and then recognize the utter madness I was cycling into and start trusting these people to God.
When I say trusting people to God, it really is an active thing. One time I was praying for a member of my family, and I had a visual that I was actually clinging to the heart of this person. God kept asking me to trust Him to hold their heart, and I was so resistant. The only way I could release the heart to Him, was through the belief that His love for that person is boundless, perfect and always available. As I handed his heart to Jesus, there was a surge of relief and peace that I will never forget.
The next big life transition for me was marriage. Hot-diggity-dog, this was the HUGEST spotlight into my perfectionist-people-loving behavior and honest-to-goodness our first year of marriage was pretty ravaged by this. I battled against the insecurity and anxiety that I wasn’t being, doing, or loving enough as a wife. Thankfully, I have a husband who NEVER reinforced this AND some amazing friends/community who helped me to understand the absolute unattainable standards I had set for myself to be a wife. SOsosososo many mercies here.
Now! Here I am, 6 months into being a mom, and let me tell you how I’ve completely mastered this new role and identity. HA! Tricked you. Guess what? I only JUST THIS WEEK realized I had/have been living in this old reality again. Truly, most moments of Anderson’s life, I have been considering how my action or inaction have been sole contributors to his happiness or sadness.
Example: He slept through the night.
Me: Wow! Must be because I fed him 7 times, gave him a bath, read him three books, and we were outside for two hours! Coolio!
Example: He woke up three times through the night.
Me: Shoot dang! I shouldn’t have driven during his nap, I shouldn’t have fed him when he was distracted by other people, I should have adjusted the temperature in his room better.
This is just one example of one piece of his life, BUT CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW TIRED I AM?
So. Why do I share? I don’t really know, except maybe I think it’s important and encouraging to recognize our recurring struggles and the resiliency we have to tackle them in each new chapter of our lives. That there is a peace that comes with the knowing that God meets us in each new phase of our lives and will grow us through it.
And, maybe it will take some time, practice, and grace for me to experience liberty from my expectations as a mom. But, it’s a battle I know I’ve fought and won in the past. AND THANKFULLY God promises me that His power will lift me up in the midst of my weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9).
Also, as a side, I am accepting wisdom from anyone willing to share. 🙂
Peace, love, and Captain Crunch everyone!