Two things that upset me on social media this week
Two things upset me this week on social media. Actually, even writing that sentence makes me stop and think, "Oh my goodness, that's a total miracle," because if there was a definition of the place with the most potential for Vast and Unlimited Upsetting Power, it would be social media. Heck, hang around Facebook for long enough and you could go from upset to very upset to totally ropable several times a day. But, I digress.
The two things I was upset by seem stupid, when I look at them in the cold, rational light of day. They do not seem worthy of my emotional distress, of the energy I gave to them. And yet, give to them, I did.
The first was a fitspo meme, reposted by a friend who has a gorgeous physique and works out a lot at the gym*. Fitspo is the shorthand for 'fitness inspiration' which is a Bit Of A Thing right now. Basically, people who work out post pictures of their abs in order to inspire you to work out as well. I don't mind it, although it doesn't actually achieve its aim with me, as, clearly, I don't work out. But, more digression.
The meme basically said this (and I'm writing the essentials of it, as I remember it): "I respect people with great physiques because when I look at them I see not just muscles, but commitment, dedication, self-discipline, sacrifice and strength."
I looked at it and made a face. AND THEN TOOK IT, LIKE, ABSOLUTELY PERSONALLY.
I talked to the computer screen. (Not really, just in my head.) "So, when you look at me, and you don't see a great physique, you see not just flab, but a lack of commitment, laziness, self-indulgence and weakness."
"You totally think I am a loser because my tummy sticks out. But I do other things. For example, have you read my books, that took me months and years to write? Have you met my fussy eating children who will now eat some vegetables? Have you bothered to ask me how committed I am to my cello practice and how I'm now starting second grade after only just seven months? (BTW, that was a tiny boast... now you know too.)"
Yah. I was a little bit upset.
Upsetting Thing Number Two From Social Media was an article that someone else posted on the topic voted second-most-likely-to-get-Cecily-reacting-strongly. Mmmm. That one.
In it, the author, clearly a clever and devoted mother (and I mean that with all respect) with six children, exhorted all mothers everywhere to stop succumbing to worldly values that say children are less important than anything you might choose to do with your time, and to instead cling to the cross and give your everything, laughing when children make you late, and being devotedly patient and loving in every single scenario so that you fulfill your important calling of motherhood. (No, I'm not going to link to it. Go look for it on the Desiring God website if you want it.)
Now. I agree with pretty much everything she says about children being important and about the absolute need to grow waaaaay more patience and kindness in parenting. BUT I STILL FELT REALLY TICKED OFF ABOUT IT.
It honestly took me a day to figure it out. And I think it's because I struggle so much with the balance of caring for myself and caring for the children, especially with the added stresses and strains of having a child with special needs whose liable at any given moment to yell at me and say, "ARE YOU INSANE? You Are Just The Meanest Mother In The Whole Universe," and "I Will Not! Never! You're an idiot." None of which is particularly great for the soul or the ego.
Her article made me feel trapped into an imposed version of godliness in which the only right thing to do as a Christian female is to totally lose yourself in the swirling rampages of nappies and homework and room-cleaning-up-sessions because that's your calling because you have a womb.
Problem is, I've also got a brain and a drive to create, and a desperate longing to write and to be read. And I yearn to play that figure-8 shaped instrument so that it sings beautiful songs to me. I did a patch where everyone else got all of me and I got none and it didn't work very well. Instead of being filled with joy from the sacrifice, I was filled with resentment. (Me, resentful, is not a pretty picture, by the way. Kinda alternately snappy and cynical and then unmotivated and dull. Just thought you'd like to know.)
Organising my priorities and my time so that everyone, including me, gets a fair piece of me is a tricky scenario, and when someone writes an article that essentially says, "Do better or you are not doing what God wants," I want to scream back, "I'M DOING MY BEST, ALRIGHTY? JUST STAY OUT OF MY WAY."
I'm sure I'd say it more politely than that. But that's kind of what I'd like to say.
But the real question is this: why did I get so upset about these two things? Why not get upset about the state of politics in Australia (not that good) or the treatment of asylum seekers (pretty darn appalling) or the any number of things I could get offended by?
I go back to the thing I ask myself in these sorts of scenarios.
"What do you need in this situation?"
The truth? In both of these areas, with my weight and with my parenting, both things I think about constantly, both things I carry a lot of guilt about, I probably need some affirmation. I probably need someone to say, "Hey, I see you're doing the best you can do most of the time. Not all of the time, but you'll admit that openly. But that's okay too. It's enough right now. Get a good night's sleep and you'll probably do even better tomorrow. I'm on your side."
I could use some grace. I know God gives it to me, but sometimes I don't allow myself to use enough of what's on offer.
*PS. Need to clarify that I didn't get upset at the people who posted these things. Not one little bit. Just at the authors of the things themselves!