This morning I found myself thinking about how there is a weird tension between who I want to be and who I actually am. I want to be a strong, confident woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. Someone who fights her battles single-handedly and shows no sign of weakness. Someone who is respected for her strength.
When I sit back and analyse a bit, I’m not sure that’s really who I am.
I love to read adventure stories and romances, and usually, the female lead is strong, sassy, bold. She soars through the story with gracefulness and wit. And sometimes I think about the story and think, what would I do if I was in that situation? If this was my story? And half the time, I have to admit that I would never be in this story because a lot of these stories have to do with poor decisions, hasty or angry actions that didn’t have a lot of forethought. I am a think-first person. I am slow to speak and I like all my decisions to be well-thought out. Not very sexy, but it has saved me a lot of heartache and headache.
These heroines always stand up for themselves. I usually freeze up in the moment. And it isn’t till I walk away from a situation that my brain sorts out, Hey, they did not do what they promised they were going to do, or what I needed them to do. Now I’m going to have to go back and insist on things being done differently. Case in point: I have been trying to retrieve medical records for my foster child and after four different phone calls, finally spoke to a doctor who said, No, you need to do this and this and this first or we’re not going to give that to you. And later, I told my husband about the conversation and he said, It’s your right to have the medical records. They can’t do that to you, just demand that they give you the medical records. And it was a light bulb moment, of Well Duh, why didn’t I just stand my ground?? But I didn’t because there was a doctor talking to me and saying No and I felt obligated to jump through the hoops they were setting up for me. Understandable, but not heroic.
I am not who I wish I was.
But maybe that’s not a bad thing.
I think about that verse from 1 Corinthians 13:11:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
Maybe part of growing up, maturing, is realizing that these role models, tropes, caricatures of womanhood that our culture feeds us are not all that they’re cracked up to be.
Perfection. Any movie, magazine, or heroic book, tells us that women have to be perfect. And that translates to looking beautiful at all times, never bending under pressure, never settling for less, never being mediocre in anything. Social media tells us that our houses should always be clean, our children well-dressed, and the food we prepare should be organic and represent all the food groups. We should gently parent our children with grace and humor. We should keep our bodies in perfect shape and make sure we are still trying to be attractive for our spouses. And while we are at it, we should also be civic minded, fight for the underdog, and volunteer in the community whenever possible.
When I sat down to write this it was with a feeling of never being enough. But as I think through all this I think that I have discovered one Superhero quality in myself that is worth being happy about. It’s the power of Not Pretending.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m perfect. I can accept that I’m not as bold and strong as I wish I was. I acknowledge that my parenting is flawed. I can admit that sometimes I’m a great wife, and sometimes I’m really not. I know that I’ve got some good points, and I’ve got some bad ones and I have to fight daily to keep myself from just dwelling on my bad points. But there is a lot of freedom in just being who you are. And realizing that God has made you this way, for a purpose. And maybe just relaxing into that. Releasing the tension that says, I should be more, I should be better, and instead saying this is who I am, God loves me, and it is good.