For many years Christmas was not a good time of year for me. I got married right before Christmas 1991, and for many years after I was not a fan of the holidays. It was my own fault. I was such an idealist, with high expectations about what married life was supposed to look like; what I was supposed to look like. I had an unrealistic ideas of what being a wife and a mother was like in real, everyday life.
Believing a lot of the lies I’d been fed inside and outside the church set me up for epic failure. It didn’t take long for me to respond with deep disappointment at myself, my husband and my children. Nothing was turning out the way I thought it would. My idea of a perfect little family was far from perfect, but I kept holding on for dear life to those ideals. I was intent on being Superwoman.
The Martha Stewart era was the perfect time for me to try and fit into the Superwoman role. I kept a super clean house, hosted friends, and made dinners and desserts from scratch. My kids always looked cute, and knew how to sit quietly in church (well, most of the time). I even sewed clothes for them and their Barbie dolls.
It all looked quite right from the outside but inside I was a mess. I was never content and couldn’t enjoy a moment because I was too worried about the next. I would snap or yell at my kids if they didn’t do things the way I wanted, and disrespected their dad if he didn’t jump in and help. I constantly criticized myself about how I could have done things better. It was insanity.
Then I grew. I read. I listened.
I gleaned wisdom from those who had been there, done that. I made a paradigm shift and learned to let go; to let myself off the hook for things that I never should have thought I was “on the hook” for. I started to let myself be me; who God created me to be and to let others be them, whomever God created them to be.
I memorized Luke 10:41-42.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I learned to sit at Jesus feet.
In my insanity I did not like the holidays because it was just another reminder of my failures. Instead of a lovely picture of hot cocoa and singing carols around a beautiful fire, we fought putting up the Christmas tree, and didn’t have lights on the house.
Sitting at Jesus’ feet allows me to let go of those lofty expectations of a Norman Rockwell painting kind of family. I have embraced my family as it is, messes and all, as we are all… just living the thing.