In celebration of and to help build momentum for the April 7th bookstore launch of Ever Upward, I will be posting a guest post each week. These guest posts are written by my dear friends and biggest supporters of my work. I am so excited to introduce you all to their stories, their voices and their work in the coming weeks.
This week we have a post from Elisha over at Waiting for Baby Bird. Elisha has been a huge support of Ever Upward and a great friend and honestly faith mentor to me (even if she doesn't know that until now). I appreciate and love her vulnerability as she writes about her struggles and triumphs through infertility, fostering and standing stronger than ever in her faith.
Life Is Messy
I scroll through Facebook and I look at everyone's beautiful pictures on Instagram and as much as I try not to, comparison sneaks in and starts to fatigue my soul. Thoughts of...she is prettier...her cooking is better...their clothes are nicer...their life is easier...her house is perfect...their marriage is flawless...and so on roll through my mind. And before I know it, I feel like I have been in a mugging. Comparison comes, punches me in the gut, and steals my joy. It makes me feel as if I am not enough and what I have accomplished isn’t enough. Especially since this is the view of my bedroom this morning. Oh how I wished it didn't look like this. Instead I wish the clothes were folded and neatly put away. The drawers were closed. My bed was made with the pillows perfectly arranged on top and everything else was in its proper place and therefore worthy of a picture to post for the world to see and click “like.” And then turn around and pridefully give myself a pat on the back for how many "likes" I got.
But it's not. And the one thing I have learned about comparing my life with hers or his or theirs, is that no matter what I am comparing it to, it is an ugly thing. It has the ability to instantly and without warning replace my happiness and joy with bitterness, jealously, envy, and hopelessness as I only begin to start seeing what other people have that I want. It creates a type of tunnel vision to where everything around me starts to look dark and gloomy. And it creates the false belief that God is sitting up there picking favorites. Which I know is wrong according to Romans 2:11 which states, "God does not show favoritism." But still, I can't shake the thought. Can you relate? If so, you are not alone. I am not alone.
In Justine Froelker's book, Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Define Your Own Happy Ending, she says that comparison definitely got the better of her more times than not.
But the truth that we need to have resonate in our souls is that we can't judge our insides by someone's outsides. We can't compare ourselves to what we think we know about someone just by reading their status updates, looking at their perfectly filtered Instagram photos, or seeing them stroll through Target.
Because that woman I became jealous of the minute I saw her with a shopping cart full of kiddos or holding a precious newborn baby, might just be fostering. Or perhaps she once struggled too. And that husband and wife who I always see smiling together, might actually be struggling behind closed doors. And the momma who looks like she has it all together, might be hanging on by a thread. Or that family who has the fancy cars, trendy outfits, and extravagant vacations might be drowning in debt. And that meal my friend posted and bragged about cooking could actually taste like...well, crap. And those Pinterest projects they always do with their kiddos probably cost them too much money and added unneeded stress to their day. (Side note: It is okay to stick with Play-Doh. It is cheap and not as stressful.)
So friend, let me be the first to say, it’s time you and I start taking it easy on ourselves. Because just like my room is messy, so is life. Life is messy. It's scattered and unorganized. It's dirty and more often than not, it never looks the way we want it to. But despite the messy, scattered and unorganized parts, there is something I have learned over the course of time and through reading Justine’s book; and that is the prettiest filter through which we can view our lives, is the one that recognizes the beauty even through all the mess.
It is the laundry that needs to be folded because we are blessed to have clothes to wear.
It is our husbands dirty socks thrown on the floor next to the clothes hamper that remind us of how hard working he is to provide for the family.
It is the unmade bed that reminds us we had a soft and warm place to lay our heads down at night.
It is the blankets not folded and put back that remind us of when they were used for snuggling.
It is the dirty dishes in the sink that serve as a reminder of the stories exchanged over dinner. And it's the contents of your fridge that look more like a science experiment that remind us that the reason it wasn't eaten, was because we have more than enough...
It is easy to want life to look a certain way and get frustrated when it doesn't. But friend, despite it not always looking like what we imagine, it is still okay. It is okay because while life can be messy, scattered and unorganized, it can also be beautiful when we choose to look through the filter of gratitude and love and joy.
So my sweet friend, if today you are struggling with the way your life looks, just change the filter. Try to look past the mess and see the beauty. It's there. I promise.