My dear friend and fellow mom asked me, “Why do we have such guilt?”
I believe our guilt, at least in part, comes from our culture’s very mixed messages. Our media outlets say – Indulge yourself! Girlfriend spa day! Weekend in Tuscany! But they also say, in more subtle ways – If you’re not busy, you’re worthless!
When I stop to reflect on these scary messages, I have to remind myself of the same principles I teach my students. One of those is to ask: Who is behind them?
People. Not golden scrolls sent down on heavenly parachutes, just people like you and me. People who are much the same, but also fundamentally different. While a monthly spa day may be great for you, it’s not for me. While a book on the back porch might be restorative to me, it might not be for you.
The coping and healing strategies are different from person to person, as are the reasons for the hustle/stress/anxiety/fillintheblank. I’m a Highly Sensitive Person. I’m easily overwhelmed by sounds like 5 children talking at one time; by attempting to accomplish 4 tasks at once; and by spending too much time in traffic.
You might be easily overwhelmed by a boss who just fired 3 people and thinks you can do all their work on top of yours.
You might be alone, working from home, trying to find a way back into an office so you can meet people. Too much solitude actually drains your energy.
You might be a mom of 6, trying to make it through the day without worrying that you’ve permanently ruined the middle 4 by nursing the newborn around the clock.
You might be the mom of 1, trying desperately to make people understand why you just have 1, only to hate yourself even more for feeling compelled to explain anything at all.
My point? We are all different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to life, so why do we compare ourselves to everyone else? Why do we assume someone else’s yeses must also be ours?
Yesterday I read the most eloquent explanation of what I believe is part of the answer:
“We live in an incredible era of opportunity for women. But I think we’ve misunderstood our newfound choice as a people, especially a female people.
We are not choosing anything; we are trying to do it all.”
– Alexandra Kuykendall, author of Loving My Actual Life
I seem to be talking a lot lately about the power of yes and no, and what Kuykendall says is right-on. We must utilize the power to choose. If we don’t? Everyone else will choose for us. The hard truth is that only you can take back your life, refuse to crumble under guillt. As Lysa TerKeurst says, with God’s guidance and strength, we can say no in order to give our best yes.
To think about:
By not saying a strong yes or no, what have you allowed others to choose for you?
Are you making choices or are you trying to do everything?
To whom do you compare yourself on a regular basis? Why? Now think about that person’s personality and life circumstances. Are they exactly like yours? (Hint: almost certainly not!)