I read a post by a friend the other day, in which she stated her excitement for the opportunity to help a neighbor who was sick and asked for help getting her kids home from school. I know that feeling well – excitement that a friend is asking for something they need, because I am much better at following instructions than I am at anticipating needs. It actually made me think of Toni, a woman who, while serving in the infant room, took a particular interest in Grumpy Preschooler. I remember Toni saying several times that she’d love to watch her for us, and I remember only taking her up on it once. I also remember being so overwhelmed with a demanding special needs infant and a husband who worked 90 hours a week that there were days I just sat and cried because I felt like I was drowning. And now that I serve in cradle, I know I totally mean it when I say I would love to babysit, and I know Toni meant it as well.
But still I sat, overwhelmed, and at times reaching my breaking point–but without ever reaching out. And guys, I have the best group of friends that are real and supportive and loving – and I still never reached out.
Why? Why do we do this? We ALL need help at times, every single one of us, and we all pretend that everything is fine because we don’t want to “inconvenience” our friends, despite the fact that they genuinely would love to help. And I’m not even talking about not wanting to ask acquaintances to help; we aren’t utilizing our very best of friends, and y’all, that nonsense has to stop.
What would the church look like if we said “Tell you what–if you promise to ask me when you need help, you have my word that if I am overwhelmed myself or have plans or don’t want to do it, I’ll tell you honestly” and it was something we actually did. If we were honest with each other – honest about our faults and our flaws and our state of mind. If we formed a true community together that loved each other and served one another without fear or judgment because we are all hanging on by a thread at some point in our lives; scared, but resisting reaching out to one another.
And what if we did this, and our children saw it and just assumed that’s how friendship was, so that’s what they did too? How often do they see us around our friends, talking about the importance of community, and then wonder why we don’t actually call our friends when we need a friend? We all talk about this impossible standard to live up to, and how the weight of that can crush us. What if we realized that we are the ones that set the impossible standard by pretending we don’t need help, and stopped doing it? What if we acknowledged that we aren’t perfect, and that’s ok, because no one else is either?
What if we celebrated each others’ strengths instead of making them something we ourselves need to achieve to be worthy? What if we realized we didn’t have to have a powerful career AND perfect kids AND a spotless house AND make every PTA meeting AND a Pinterest-worthy house AND a model’s body AND be the perfect mother AND take breathtaking vacations AND have massive savings accounts AND participate in missions AND volunteer AND be the ideal wife (spoiler alert – WE DECIDE WHAT IS IDEAL AND WE’RE EVEN WORSE AT DEFINING STUFF THAN WE ARE AT LIVING UP TO IT).
What if we stopped competing against, but instead stayed in community with each other?
Guys, why is the Body of Christ not doing these things? The cornerstone of our beliefs is being broken and finding strength in Christ – so why we are still pretending that everything is fine when it’s not? Wouldn’t we better serve Him if non-believers saw that the people that represent Him are a group that is real and transparent and authentic? A place where you can say “You know what? If my husband and I don’t get two hours alone to reconnect over a hot meal, I’m not sure we are going to make it through this” without fear? What if we could say “Sometimes I wonder if we will all survive the day” without hearing “They’re only little once! Cherish every moment.” Y’all, it is truth – they do grow up quickly. However, you will not find a mother on earth that has little children and hasn’t heard that at least three times a week since the day her kids were born, and that truth feels a lot like more suffocating, crushing guilt for not enjoying every second.
We talk about how frustrated we are by people who we believe paint a picture of perfection, but if we aren’t sharing our stories, aren’t we those people too? Aren’t we all part of the actual problem? What if we all said “This is enough. No more.”?
I blogged about my experience in a community like that here (go read, I’ll wait). One where I confessed my darkest, darkest moments to a group of women, and they embraced me and held my hand and walked me through it. They told me about their darkest moments, and in realizing that I wasn’t alone, I realized it would all be ok.
How much better would life be if we lived it honestly? How much do we need to hear that even the quintessential mom that seems to be the entire package actually has days where she wants to give up, too? What if the grandiose dreams of being able to change the world were realized through the simple act of changing the way we interact with each other?
Because changing the world happens not with grand acts by individuals, but with small acts by many. Let’s change it.