The Wrong Focus
I was driving my middle daughter Elizabeth to participate in a community 4th of July parade. I had left in plenty of time and I felt fairly well organized as we left. However, as I drove, I kept thinking of things I could have brought with us, things that we didn’t necessarily have to have, just things to enhance the experience.
“I should have grabbed that other water gun,” I lamented. “And I should have started the dishwasher.” There was a pause as I continued to think about the way I could have done things better and then I continued, “I could have brought some silly string, that would have been cool.” I was listing a ton of woulda, shoulda, couldas in my mind.
From behind me Elizabeth’s voice chimed in. “Mom, you need to focus on what you did do, not what you didn’t get done,” then she continued, “We are on time, we have what we are supposed to have. It is all okay.”
I knew she was right, and not just about today. My focus on life is to constantly lament internally and verbally about what I don’t achieve and how I fall short of . . . well, the high, perfect standard to which I think I am supposed to adhere. I continued to drive but my mind was wrapping itself around the concept that I am incredibly hard on myself and what I do not accomplish. When rehashing my days, I seldom can describe what I did accomplish, but I can sure list the things that still need to get done. I seldom give myself grace that there is just one of me. I wear so many ‘hats’ that I feel like I don’t get any one thing accomplished. I realized I have made my camp on the boarder of ‘not good enough and guilt.’
I know we all know where that land is and we all visit it from time to time. But I have made it my home! I want to move!
More troubling still, was the thought of what type of message am I sending my family. Elizabeth could see that I wasn’t being fair to myself, but I felt the need to be critical of myself. I wondered two things: 1. If I was teaching my children to be overly critical of themselves, if what they were doing would never be good enough. 2. By internally and verbally criticizing myself, how much permission was I giving to the rest of my family to be critical of me.
So it is time for me to pack up and move. I no longer want to be a citizen of these guilt laden lands. The truth is, I work very hard and seldom take time for myself. I need to give myself credit for what I accomplish and to begin seeing the value of my place in life. I need to reevaluate what is important, and not sway in the temptation that cleaning the house should take priority. I think I will go back and reread the Mary and Martha story.