“And her desire shall be…”
Shoes, half dirty pairs of blue jeans, a basket of socks waiting to be matched, and desperate to be vacuumed floors surround me as I write this. I have been battling a nasty respiratory flu for the last week and a half. Between trying to get over it, trying to squelch the urge to sue my parents for medical neglect, and keeping up with school work not much else has gotten done around here in the last week. The bathroom sink is covered in toothpaste. The litter box needs to be cleaned. At least the laundry has been washed, but I know it won’t put itself away.
Things like that leave me feeling like a failure. And fill my heart with desire.
Desire to not be in school so I can spend time with my family. A desire for a clean house. Desires to find the time to cook organic healthy meals for my family instead of our old standbys: MCFroPicks (Mac n Cheese, Frozen Pizza, Fish Sticks). A desire for a clean house that sparkles, beds that are made, laundry that is freshly folded, shelves that are dusted, homemade snacks in the pantry, and a freezer full of healthy meals. A desire to read aloud more at night, with boys in their jammies listening on the couch.
Enter reality: My pantry looks far more like a walk down Wal-Mart’s snack aisle than I care to admit and the snacks are GMO packed granola bars and goldfish crackers. Meals in the freezer consist in the abundance of frozen pizzas and lean cuisines. Evenings at our home look like a mad scramble out of a scene from Parenthood, homework papers flying, dusting off a table to consume a said frozen pizza, three boys in underwear wrestling or engrossed in a DSI battle, and us falling into a heap of sheer exhaustion, anxiously waiting their early bedtime. Did I mention the kitten has now scrambled up the table to forage for the left over table scraps?
My desires and reality so often don’t mesh. And much of the disappointment in my life I believe can be traced to the fact that I want to fight to keep my desires and make them match my reality. So often, I fail to see that these types of desires that I have are a part of the curse. I get bitterly discontent, assume false guilt, and cry in my heart for the loss of these desires that I believe should be mine.
I see this everywhere. I see women who are burdened with desires. And these desires go well and beyond a desire for a husband. We desire our family to be close, so we will do anything we possibly can to achieve that vision. Even if it means over protecting, home educating when it is no longer a healthy option, forcing traditions that no one wants to participate in, or try to force family relationships in unhealthy ways.
We desire our family to be fed. We listen to the swirling news and fear-laden data that our children or husbands will die of cancer if they consume too much of a given preservative. Hours are devoted to the planning and preparation of these meals and we experience false guilt when they don’t hold up to a certain standard, desiring in our hearts that next time will be better. And we feel somehow better than the next mom who doesn’t do all of these extra things for their family and feeds them on processed peanut butter and jelly.
We desire our children to be happy and healthy. The natural birth movement, the cloth diapering movement, the breast is best movement, are all well and good. But our hearts seek after these things like a thwarted idol, desiring the best birthing experience, the environmental concerns of cloth diapering, the health benefits of nursing as though somehow these experiences will bring to our hearts the fulfillment of our desires.
The flip side of the above mentioned cultural movements are of course that those of us who have been unable to have such experiences (like myself), find our hearts desiring for them as we pine over the garden gate longing for an experience like the one we read about. I feel a false sense of guilt that I didn’t have a natural childbirth with any of my boys, even though in 3 of the cases, that was not even a medically viable option. I feel guilty that though my last baby was my healthiest baby by far (and a tiny preemie born in RSV season), that he was bottle-fed. My desires have never been quenched. And I desire more.
The more desire I feel, the more guilt I feel. And it is false guilt. I feel guilt from the moms who are able to achieve a perfect experience, who are feeding their families healthy, who are able to create what I perceive as a desirable family life. I know in my heart that its not real, rarely is anything you see on Pinterest a true depiction of reality. Facebook statuses are glammed up and shared amongst us moms, doctoring the reality of our families to make us feel better (guilty, as charged). We place false guilt on one another for not doing things our way, and in turn adopt false guilt when we are not doing what we perceive that we should. Sisters, this should not be!
Some things are good to feel guilty about. Like the amount of time we spend in self-indulgence, selfishness, obsessions, and unhealthy patterns of behavior. But these minute details, that we devote so much of our heart and lives to, are not what God has in mind for us as His daughters.
He wants us to spend these countless hours that we spend desiring these worldly things differently. He wants us to spend them in desiring Him. He wants us to spend it in service to Him, engaging our world and touching lives for His glory. He wants our desires to be centered on eternal things, things that matter.
It doesn’t matter that my house is cloaked in a layer of dirt right now. It doesn’t matter that my freezer is filled with frozen pizza or that my socks aren’t matched. My boys went to church today. We pray for one another at the end of the day. They ate McDonalds for dinner, but they know that they are loved and accepted. Our house is filled with laughter. We worship together at home, we work together, we have fun together, and my boys love Jesus. These things are good. These are my treasures in heaven, not whether or not the things that are in my home are organized, or the things that I feed my family have met a perfect standard of health. Not that these things shouldn’t be done. Its just that that is not where my heart’s desires should focus or my allegiance lie.