Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tearing Down Idols

I am one who has always cared way too much what other people think of me. Many times I have brought myself to the point of bitterness and discontent because I was able to "keep up with the Joneses." I always wanted to be able to dress a certain way, but could never afford to. I would love to have my hair styled, but then you have to pay to get it trimmed frequently to keep it that style. I really do like jewelry, makeup, getting my nails done, having my eyebrows waxed, and I would love to know what it would be like to have a tan. But I never learned how to look feminine or how to do things for myself like my hair, nails, and eyebrows. So I sit here and wallow in self-pity far too often because I look like a dump and everyone else around me looks so...preppy.

There is one person in particular whom I have idolized since I came to college. She always had lots of friends (something I've never been very good at making), she is so vibrant and energetic, and is always dressed SO nice! In college I would dig through the mission barrel trying to find clothes like hers so I could dress like her (never happened). As we graduated and went on to stay in the area, we see each other often, and until recently I still struggled with envy. Recently, however, I've come to realize that while there may be times that I envy those around me, their appearance and possessions are not without sacrifice.

I can't count how many people have made such thoughtless comments as, "Is it really worth it?" (Referring to my being a stay-at-home mom.) In my mind I don't understand how there could be any doubt as to whether or not it is worth it! What I get out of what these people are saying (based on other conversations with these same people): "Is it really worth giving up cable/satellite tv? Having two new(er) vehicles? Being able to shop and buy clothes any time you want to? Purchasing something at every direct-sales party you're invited to? Going out to eat at least once a week? ...to stay home with your children?"And my answer is a very resounding, "YES!" In their minds, I am sacrificing a comfortable lifestyle in order to stay home with my children, and this is true. (I find it sad that so many Christian women have been roped into being full-time career women and part-time moms, rather than learning to make-do with the simple bare necessities of life. (This is a soap box that I have already drafted a whole other post about, but I can't decide whether I should really publish it!) ) In my mind, these women are sacrificing their children in order to live that comfortable lifestyle. I've been beating around the bush when answering this question to people with simple answers like, "We felt it was best for our family." Which is true. However, the other night when someone asked me if it was worth it, I answered what I've been wanting to say to everyone else around me, "It's worth it not to let someone else raise my children."

So what is the idol? And what happened to the one lady I mentioned earlier? She has been an idol to me. But there have been many thing that that lady has done in the last two years that have helped my eyes be opened to the fact that we are all still human, and we all make mistakes. She is one who can't take what she dishes out. Yes, she has lots of nice things, but many of those things have been obtained by greed. Yes, I'm being judgmental, but I get so frustrated when people who have boast about robbing those who are without. In my opinion, those who have two incomes and plenty of resources, don't need to be going to a mission that is giving things away to the needy just so that she doesn't have to pay for something! We live off of one income, and I still feel that I have been too blessed to go to a charity giveaway when there are so many others around me (especially here) who truly have needs! She is also one who feels she can be extremely blunt with others, and downright rude sometimes, but can't handle it if someone makes suggestions to her. I use to think I didn't mind her rudeness because at least I knew what she truly thought of me. But I've come to realize that she still possesses that glorious "Southern Belle" characteristic of saying one thing to your face, and another behind your back. There was one time she said something rather harsh (of course it was via the internet, so reading something doesn't always carry the same expression that may have come out face to face), and my husband just looked at me and said, "I really don't know what you see in her."

I'm not trying to tear apart someone's character exactly. This is more for me to reflect on and understand why I should not hold this person as high as I have in the past. We can and will continue to be good aquaintances, but I refuse to allow myself to sit here and wallow in self pity and jealousy because I am not just like her. I have been truly blessed. Our needs have been provided, and my husband really wouldn't like it if I looked all preppy anyway. It's just a hard thing where we are to not compare myself to all of the women around me. People with nice vehicles that run quietly, as opposed to a vehicle that causes many people to plug their ears as we're driving by. :) But we have nice, cold a/c! People with nice homes that fit their families and are nicely decorated. People who have bought clothes since graduating college (or highschool even). People who have health insurance. People who have the means to eat out on those nights they just really, really don't want to cook. But these are also the same people who, while in conversation in church nursery, can even answer a simple question about their child's development. One lady and I were talking one night, and she was telling me how the daycare had told her her daughter was kissing the boys. I asked if her daughter was scooting around yet, and her answer still makes my heart break as she replied, "I don't know. We're not really home long enough with her to know if she's moving around or not."

I am SO thankful that I know what is going on in my girls lives. I understand the little toddler talk, I know exactly how each is developing day-by-day. Nothing is worth sacrificing being the mother to my children.

comments posted:
Brandi said...

I love this and could have written it for myself, word for word, a few years back. Praise the Lord that He has brought me to a place of total contentment and peace at where He has me. I can now say I couldn't care less about where I buy my clothes, how old my car is etc....
Thank you for being so honest! This post will bless many.

Heather said...

Fabulous, Laurie! (My teacher heart is proud, and as a mom, I feel edified!) I totally relate to wishing sometimes for nicer clothes and I have been dying to get a pedicure, but I am so thankful to have at least the next year to stay home with my babies (I really need to pray that the Lord opens a way to make that a permanent thing even while Nathan's in school).

I have been thinking lately that the greatest advice I would offer to an engaged woman is to always live on one salary. That's what we did when we both worked at PCC. We never had a good cellphone plan (we just have a $10 extension on my parents' plan) and never had cable. By living frugally even when we could have afforded more, we didn't get trapped into thinking we just couldn't live w/o those things. Sadly, too many young couples spend every penny they have on luxuries they can't afford, so the wife's staying at home seems impossible.

That comment from the woman in the nursery is heartbreaking and exactly why I refused to get an 8-5 job. When we were in P'Cola, I worked part-time (we knew we'd be heading to seminary and needed to save the money) but heard a mom who worked full-time say she felt like all she did was feed her kids and put them to bed. I couldn't understand it because I could make a pretty good estimate of what her husband made and knew they could live on it if they really wanted to, or at least with her working part-time. I did just write a blog post about not judging other moms' choices (mostly thinking about how SAHMs spend their time), but I do think there is a time to objectively evaluate situations like that and say from a Christian standpoint that they are wrong, and not knowing your own kids is wrong.

I applaud you and your husband for being so wise! You never know, maybe your example will speak to some of those women you're in contact with and prompt them to make some changes!

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