Oh, how easy it is to allow seeds of discontent to take root in my life.
Never has this been so apparent than last week after a wonderful get-together with a group of online friends. It was a perfect day - the conversation, the food, the games, the lovely group of women and children. Perfect from start to oh-so-reluctant finish.
And yet, as I was driving myself home afterwards, I found myself thinking, so that's what a grown-up's house looks like. It was gorgeous. Everything was just so, from the art on the walls to the coffee tray on the counter to the name plaques on the children's doors to the lovely-yet-uncluttered decorations around the house.
I walked into my own home that evening and felt an overwhelming sense of discontent. Suddenly the house that I have adored for the past year looked little better than a college dorm. There is no art on our walls, just candid pictures of our families. Our furniture, far from being elegant and lovely, has come almost exclusively from Ikea. Our white futon, the only couch we own, has been stained from four years' worth of baby spit-up and spills. Our bookshelves hold Harry Potter, not Anna Karenina. Instead of acres of space for the children to explore, we have a small patch of grass in our unfenced front yard. And on and on and on.
All I could see were these glaring flaws, all the ways in which our home didn't measure up to a "real" grown-up's home.
Far too often lately I allow such moments of insecurity to take over my thoughts, to dictate my happiness and sense of contentment. What happened to enjoying and rejoicing?
I allow my self-worth to be determined by how many hits or comments my blog gets - and thereby permit the same to leave me feeling let-down, even envious. I worked so hard on that post, did no one enjoy it? Why did her post get 50 comments while mine only got one?
Or parenting - oh, parenting. I see other parents, read other blogs, and measure myself against them, invariably finding myself lacking. How does she find the energy to do such fascinating projects with her kids every day, whereas I'm doing awesome if I can just get us to the park for an hour? Where does she get her endless patience from, while I had to apologize to my kids for losing my temper again today?
Always measuring, always coming up short, always self-doubting and second-guessing. Projects and patience, blog hits and comments, elegance and possessions - I allow all of it and so much more to define my self-worth, leaving me feeling discontent. If only ___...then I would be good enough.
But what? What would be good enough? Will I ever truly get there, arrive at "good enough", if I chase this discontent? Or would it only lead to more lacking?
I know the answer. There's no use pretending it's not true. It's just so hard to admit, because admitting means having to let go. It means letting go of dissatisfaction, letting go of resentment, letting go of living with one foot in "if only", and living fully here, fully now, fully joyous and content in where I am and with what I have.
The perfectionist in my balks at that thought. But you should always strive for "better"! Don't settle for "good enough"! I'm finally beginning to see the lie of perfectionism. Oh, it was alright when what I was striving for was "the best" grades or "the best" dance or "the best" sewing project. Pushing myself further wasn't necessarily bad. But it spreads, and it brings with it immense discontent. All I have to do is re-read what I've written - what now? Now I want "the best" house? "the best" blog? "the best" projects to do with my kids?
Suddenly it's not just about pushing myself to be the best I can be, is it?
It's time to find good enough and be happy there. It's time to be truly content. This realization is just another opportunity to refocus, a reminder of our themes for this year, a chance to get back on track.
Content with where I am.
Grateful for all that I have.
Seeking beauty in all things.
Finding joy today.