Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Captivity of Image

I've always wanted to look good.

I'm not even talking physical attractiveness. I've  never really been one to obsess about having every hair in place or make-up perfected before I walk out the door.

No, I'm talking about how I wanted to look like I had it all together.  My kids in line, perfect little human beings that would not dare to hurt someone else's feelings, disobey my words, or throw a fit.  My bag expertly packed with whatever the kids or I might possibly need.  My house clean and organized, because, of course, that would be my priority for a properly maintained household.

But, the thing about image is that it is pretty one-sided.  Two-dimensional.  Flat.  Often, paper-thin.  Easily torn.  Quickly marred.  The fact is that kids are kids, no matter how well you think you can prepare, the inevitable happens, and having a clean house isn't just all it's cracked up to be, especially if you have been run ragged trying to keep it that way.

But, the real detriment to caring about this whole image thing is that it can cause harm to my children.  In my haste to protect my ego, my self-esteem, my self-worth, I have easily destroyed theirs with harsh words when they did not perform to my expectations.  With my desire to have the perfect presentation, I have chosen to put the extra household cleaning in front of spending time playing with them on the floor.  In my effort to foresee every possible glitch in the scenario, I have wasted precious energy worrying, sapping my patience in the moments when I must deal with the mundane, the ordinary, the commonplace.

I cannot say that I am completely free of the chains that bond me to this paper-thin picture of me.  However, since I have become acquainted with the destructive effects of trying to keep it up, I have asked God to teach me how to love unconditionally as opposed to expending energy trying to gain the world's applause.  Because, let's face it, the world is much more fickle than my children will probably ever be.  I will never be able to live up to the world's expectations, but I certainly am going to try to fulfill those of my children.

Linking up with Tiffini today for Word Women Wednesdays - come check it out!


  1. Jen, I just knew when this came up in my Google Reader it would make me teary eyed. The title, the Barbie. I feel your pain. And you are so right, the world is so much more fickle than our kids will ever be.

    Your post challenges me as a mommy. I am reminded of a necklace I wear almost every day that says "Raising Generations". It means I am sowing either blessings or curses for generations I will never know.

    Jen, if you could ever be a fly on the wall at my house, I can assure you, you are not alone in this, sweet friend.


  2. Yes! I am so right there with you. Same struggles. Love your last line - I lose sight of that so often. I get frustrated when my children don't live up to my expectations of perfection in public. How ridiculous of me, and how unfair to them. Thanks for your honesty and the way you put into words exactly what I'm thinking!

  3. AWESOME!! and real. For the first 5 years of married life, i was the Barbie. Perfect kids, perfect body, perfect husband, perfect house, PERFECT everything! But in reality i was hurting on the inside and didn't want anyone else to see. I let my walls down by letting things fall apart a little and it was such freedom to know I would still be loved, even though i wasn't perfect!
    The only perfect One died on the cross so that all of us sinners don't have to be perfect:)

  4. Love this post, Jen. You and I are so similar in that desire for perfection. We are also both competitive. I feel they go hand in hand. It is hard sometimes to break down those barriers keeping us from loving our children as we should instead of criticizing them and spending quality time with them. There is always something on the To-Do list, but I've learned that I can edit that list, and I've discovered most of it can wait. You are not alone. I'm planning to spend some quality time today with Carter since I'm not about to leave my house in this cold!! :) Maybe I'll get a blog written as well. ;)

  5. my heart breaks for us...for women who struggle like this. like me..like you
    Our country is SO full of this captivity...ugh! Jen - I love this post! surely this is rampant..I first think of grace...heaping and overflowing onto ourselves and others. Our children are so in need aren't they? our security really is in Him isn't it?
    your offering today is real...thankyou. You give me more to think about

  6. Jen, dearest, You are enough because God is so wonderfully enough! I love your heart and honesty. Please keep sharing the journey as we all learn together.


  7. 'But, the thing about image is that it is pretty one-sided. Two-dimensional. Flat. Often, paper-thin. Easily torn. Quickly marred.'

    I loved this...what a wonderful word picture to help bring all of this truth home. thank you:)

  8. This is definitely something I've noticed since I've been here in Texas and esp. at SLOL. I don't really understand it, honestly. It's very unlike the people I knew out west or in Atlanta, this concern with projecting the image of the perfect family and household. I don't understand it but I can see what a huge burden it is.

    Your point about not seeking praise is important, I think. It isn't just that people are fickle. They are, but even if their praise of you is consistent, it's a trap. If your goal is to seek praise, then you are bound to a certain course of action. You are trapped doing things that aren't necessarily the things you ought to be doing. Even if they are, praise shouldn't be the motivation. I would go so far as to say criticism shouldn't get us down but neither should people's praise make us feel happier. It shouldn't matter one way or or another if our attention is on God.

    Not sure if this will post as my name but this is Annie.

  9. What great insight you have! Visiting from SITS.

  10. So very true, we will never live up to the world's expectation. I used to struggle with image and doing everything and being everything...it's exhausting. I am thankful that I don't have to prove anything to my Savior. He sees me faults and all and says... I still love you!

  11. You have spoken right to my heart with this post. I have, this past Sunday, become frustrated with my 4 month old daughter. She'll play instead of eating. She'll do the thing we tell her not to do a second after we tell her not to do it. She'll play instead of doing what we told her to do. I tend to scream at her. She has told her she doesn't like me to scream at her.

    I am working on it though.


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