Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
I come from a painful background. Not a classically tough background, an unusual one that can only be formed from the combination of growing up privileged coupled with a lack of feeling accepted from a young age. What should have been the most natural and grounding relationship of all became a constant source of uncertainty.
I came to understand that if I performed correctly, I could carve out a sense of feeling loved. Never to be confused with unconditional love, but love nonetheless. It was sufficient when I was young and essential to my survival.
But then I grew up. I moved away to college and felt as if I was walking out of a cave finding everything upside down and backwards. The values I had learned didn't translate. The strong sense of selves that I noticed intimidated me rather than beckoning me to join. I learned to transform myself into whatever the social situation called for. I was 'agreeable' and although I had a wonderful time during that time in my life, I struggled to feel present. Truly accepted.
Then I met my husband and all things started falling together. He was my person and around him I felt immune to the nagging feeling of being unaccepted. He had a core sense of self I hadn't seen before, and I often borrow some of his courage and stability. Everything was humming along just beautifully and when it was just my husband and I, I was able to hold all my cards together and life was fairly smooth.
But then I had children and was unable to continue to operate in the same value system. Crushing blow after blow came my way as I navigated the experience of being an new mother, which collapsed my rigid world of expectations and control. I was unable to breastfeed. This brought me to my knees and was my first sign to myself at a breakdown in my performance. I suffered from postpartum depression, my greatest challenge up to that point, blowing the doors off my mind's image that babyhood should be bliss. I could not make beautiful, homemade, varied dinners for my husband since I barely had the ability to take a shower. All this was very distressing to someone who directly correlated my ability to get love with the level of how much and how well I was able to give.
Years later, although I made tremendous strides towards surrender, building my spiritual life, and dropping unrealistic expectations of myself, I still struggled with thinking about what others expected of my performance since I was unable to return to my amiable self of the past.
If you are in any position where these words imprint on your heart and point to your current circumstances, I want to share what I felt God telling me one day as I turned inward. I wrote this in an old notebook:
Take the pressure off yourself;
People expect absolutely nothing from you.
Your parents, your siblings, your in-laws, your friends, your acquaintances, your child's teacher, your coworkers, your neighbors, everybody 'expects' absolutely nothing from you. They only hope for your time and attention and are thrilled when they get it. Watch them. They love you and love getting time in your light, the light I grace you with. Watch their faces. They light up to see you, delight in your presence, and feel filled when you tell them about happy times with your family. They are delighted to see you so happy and pure, and think about your representation of Me on earth. They relish in your dedication to your family and your aura remains filling space with happiness when you go. Talking about the negative, not to be confused with needing support, blocks that light. Keep it positive not because it is what people want or expect or because it is what you had to do to get love growing up, but because it is My command and what is best for you.
I love how this message illustrates the goodness and unconditional love only God can bestow on our lives.
He has done great work in me then and since to show me the futility in trying to earn acceptance, and I've come to a greater understand of my place in this season of life. I hope that in sharing this, God gives you a prompting on your heart to see yourself in a more accurate way within the beautiful life He has blessed you with, dropping any impulses to perform. Because you, sweet sister, are already as good as it gets.
With much love and grace,