Someone is Watching You, and Here's What She Really Wants to See
After I finished speaking at the MOPS meeting, several young moms approached me. For the briefest second, I thought they were coming to ask for some advice or to mention a helpful piece of wisdom they had gained from my talk. Nope!
Instead, the first one said, “I loved that story about you yelling up at your kids from the basement, not realizing a woman they let in the door was standing in your living room.” Another chimed in, “It was so great to hear how your son embarrassed you by making gagging sounds over the meal when you were invited to someone’s house for dinner.” Multiple women thanked me for my stories, saying, “I’m glad I’m not the only one who…”
I realized something that day. People are watching our lives, but not for the reasons we think. They are not interested in our achievements (or our children’s), our beautifully kept homes, our organic locally sourced meals, our tasteful hair and makeup, or our expertise in balancing work and family.
They are looking for hope. Rather than online pictures or conversations featuring all that we do well, they want to hear about how we struggle, but haven’t quit trying. They want to know that our marriages and our parenting are messy, but we keep showing up, trying to learn to love better. To hear about that habit or character quality that we are still working to change. To see that women who love God and serve in leadership positions fail regularly, but then seek forgiveness and keep moving forward.
Our friends and neighbors don’t need our “how-to” as much as they need “me too.” They want to be reassured that the feelings they have and the failures they’ve experienced are not unusual, nor are they fatal. There is grace, and tomorrow is a new day.
As I think about this, it reminds me of the difference between the way I learned Bible stories as a child and the way I view them now. In Sunday school I heard about Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, and others. I was taught to admire their faith, their obedience, and their courage. They were described as nearly superhuman, and the message seemed to be “look at them!”
When I read the narratives now, I take away something very different. Yes, I see men and women who bravely followed God . But I also notice their temptations and their tempers, their broken relationships and their sins. I am awed at the way God did not give up on them, or on the human race in general. I amazed that He used those people greatly, despite their flaws. Instead of “look at them”, I now think “if God could work through them, maybe He can use me too.” I gain greater confidence not in my abilities, but in His patience and mercy.
This is the glory of lettings others see something more real than carefully cropped and filtered images of our lives. If I speak honestly about the bumpy road I traveled in learning to communicate well and handle conflict with my husband, while also saying how crazy I am about him after thirty-one years, I can encourage a woman who is going through a rough patch in her marriage. Sharing my regrets and fears in parenting, even as I thank God for the wonderful young adults that have begun launching from my home one by one, helps another mom feel less alone.
The women we know don’t want or need to be inspired by us, but by the God we serve. They need to be reminded that He loves each of us as we are, lets us partner in His work despite our flaws, and creates something beautiful out of what we offer to Him.
What if your neighbor, coworker, or acquaintance from church no longer had to carry the burden of believing that life is easy for others, so something must be wrong with her? What if you were the one brave enough to help relieve her of that burden? Tell just one real and raw story today, and see what happens!