Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"You Should Have Been" : Stop measuring yourself by someone else's definition of success.

Making the choice to be a stay-at-home, homeschool mom is definitely counter-cultural these days, though this choice of lifestyle is beginning to gain momentum as of recent. It still seems to shock or even almost offend people when the topic arises of staying home and raising my own kids by choice.

I can't even tell you how many times I am asked, "But, why?"  There are a select few that celebrate with me the blessing it is that I'm able to stay home with my kids, but others definitely act completely appalled that someone would make this choice for any other reason that financial necessity.

The thing I hear most often is, "You should be a [fill in the blank]," or "You would have made such a wonderful [blank]." In a lot of cases, those things would definitely be true, or at least fall within a realm of possibilities. Being someone who always excelled academically, it seems like "such a waste of potential" to certain people that I am not using my talents and abilities in the way that they think I should.

The most often thing people say to me to fill those aforementioned blanks is, "You should be a teacher. You'd be so great at it" This is the statement that makes me laugh and I usually respond with, "I am! And yes, I'm pretty darn good at it!" (I could go on a whole tangent about actually teaching versus classroom management from my elementary education major days in college, but that's another post for another day.) I also get writer/journalist/cosmetologist/artist/chef and the list goes on. Truth is, I as a person do have quite a few talents and abilities, just the same as another human on the planet. Just because I didn't pursue a particular career field doesn't make any of those strengths or talents null and void, or as I have often heard, "a waste." I use my teaching skills to teach my own children and hopefully pass on the love of learning to them. I use my creative skills through my writing on this blog, graphic design for my church, artistic abilities for bible journaling and for teaching local bible journaling classes. I free-lance as a makeup artist during wedding season, and I love cooking homemade, from-scratch meals to bless and nourish my own family. None of my "potential" is wasted! I may not be collecting a big paycheck each week, but I feel like my lifestyle choice is actually maximizing my opportunities to share these talents while at the same time fostering the type of home life I desire for my family.

I do admit, in my younger days, these types of comments really affected me. I let my self worth be defined by other people's thoughts of me. My friends, that is a recipe for disaster! I struggled for so long feeling like a failure. That, on top of going through the emotional/hormonal rollercoaster of having three babies back to back, had me in quite the ditch of depression for a good length of time. I felt strongly that I had made the right decision for my life and for my family, but I still struggled with how other people viewed me. I want to share with you a few things I realized that brought me out of my slump and that has completely changed my mindset so that maybe if you are feeling those same things, you will be encouraged.

#1. Success is subjective. 
We all define "success" differently. Person A may define success by financial gain, material possessions, and personal station. Person B, (namely me), defines success by growth in wisdom, character, and family unity. Person C may have a completely different definition all together. I stopped judging myself by someone else's definition of success and rather started measuring myself by my own spectrum of success, and it has been incredibly freeing!

#2. Dreams change.
I, for one, do not want to be held up to the dreams I had when I was 16-18 years old. A lot has changed since then, and I'm sure that's the same for you. In a lot of ways, I do not even feel like the same person I was then! If you had known me in my high school years, my idea of what I wanted my life to look like was drastically different than what it is today. I talked all the time about how I didn't ever want kids, and my mind changed regularly about "what I wanted to be when I grew up." I think God has an incredible sense of humor, because not only did I marry and have kids very young, my  desire for children has grown immensely.  As I've grown and gained insight to what I believe to be God's will and purpose for me, I have found a love and passion for motherhood and all that comes with it. So with that, my "dreams" have changed from being self-centered to God-centered and family-centered.

#3. Our worth comes from God, and God alone.
I don't want to sound cliche here, but hang with me. Especially in the social media age we live in, everyone's thoughts and opinions are shoved in our faces on a daily basis. Ladies, tune those voices out! Unfollow the people who post things that discourage you and instead only follow those who encourage and empower and support you. Easy as that! You are not obligated to see everything people post on social media. I've honestly gotten to the point that I unfriend and unfollow people on a regular basis. This doesn't mean I don't like the person or that I don't care about them. You don't have to agree with people to love them, just the same as you don't have to follow people on social media to love them. Satan loves to discourage us, cause us to doubt ourselves, cause us to feel inferior and depressed. He uses any means necessary to get into our heads, and social media is his biggest cannon.  We make it easy for him to attack us! Stop listening to the voices that tell you that you don't measure up, and instead listen to the voice that tell you "you are fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14)

All in all, mommas, I urge you to stop listening to those "should have beens." No matter how sincere and well-meaning those comments are intended, all that comes from them is feelings of inadequacy, so just tune them out. It's taken me a long time to learn this lesson, so I pray it comes much easier for you!

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