We were just shooting the breeze, not awkward talk, but nothing super personal either. He asked me about the recent time I've been able to spend at home with Annie and I answered something like, "It's been really good. Wonderful. She's in such a cute stage so that makes it really fun. But, I also really struggle. I'm sort of the type of mom- that, well- OK, I'm just selfish. You know? I mean, I still want to get out, I need my space, I need my freedom- so I hand her off probably more than the average mom does... in fact, do you want her for the afternoon?"
We both laughed. Clearly, I was kidding. I followed up with, "Yeah- I love being her mom- but I guess I am also still selfish."
He replied, "Yeah, I heard that."
You heard that? What do you mean you heard that? Heard what? That moms are selfish or that I AM selfish? My heart was beating fast and I felt the fear of failure throbbing through my veins.
It occurred to me, by the way he was looking at me, that perhaps what he heard was not that first times moms were selfish, but that I personally was selfish. So I pushed back with a smile- passive aggressively of course- and I let out the classic statement that all passive aggressives abuse, "Ha!"
"Ha! You heard first time moms are selfish or you heard I was selfish?!?" I said it as playfully as possible and braced myself for his answer.
"I heard you were selfish."
He said it matter-of-factly. He actually spoke it without any judgement. It was more like a plain fact. As if it were just common knowledge among those who know me that I am "Jenny, the selfish mom."
In one minute I felt shame, sadness, anger, and confusion. Do people say that I am a bad mom? Selfish? Lazy?
The rest of the party I pondered what he said while Annie ate Cheetos off the ground. I only snapped out of my self-pity trance when Ryan said, "Jen, seriously you gotta watch Annie. She's trying to eat off the ground."
"Well, of course she is, " I thought, "I told her it was ok if she blew on it...."
OH MY GOSH
I AM A TERRIBLE MOM
Only moments after I am inadvertantly critized for being selfish- I am letting my daughter eat off the concrete ground- so that I can sulk and consume cupcakes en masse.
It set in.
I am selfish.
And worst of all, everyone knows it.
This is the point in the blog where I could pursue lots of different subjects. Embracing the style of mother that you are. Acknowledging your weaknesses. Not living in guilt. Or I could finally write a blog about the word "HA!" and why I wish it could never be used again by people who want to cover up their inability to properly communicate and instead hide their true thoughts and feelings behind a big, fat, HA! Pet peeve of mine? Why yes it is!
But instead of talking about other people's use of "Ha" or why it's important to allow yourself to be the type of mom that you naturally are- I will talk about me- and about how I thought I didn't care, but I do.
By the end of the night I had a migraine and my soul was troubled. I couldn't sleep, so I got on the couch and pulled out my computer with the intentions of writing. But then someone wrote to congratulate me- apparently our Hope Now video on youtube had recieved over a million views. That's cool. I hadn't been on youtube in ages- I wonder what kind of Addison Road videos can be found-
note to self: don't look yourself up on Youtube.
I spent the next hour reading over 900 comments. I know. I know. I wasted my life during that hour and I allowed myself to go to a terrible place. I know. I know. I know. This is a confession people!!!! And the confession is this:
I thought I didn't care, but I do.
I read amazing words, but mainly, lots of horrible words, "She's dressed like a whore." "She's making sexual faces at the camera." "Love the band. Love the song. Hate the sin of her dress." "This music is not Christian and Jesus will not accept it." "What was she thinking? She calls herself a Christian?" And my favorite, "You guys, I've met her and it's clear she loves God and it's clear she's just playing the role of a lost person in this video and that's why she dressed this way." I sat there dumbfounded.
Oh how quickly we can let the voices of others dominate us.
I broke my own rule- the one that says, "Do not listen to people’s praise. Because if you let people’s praise build you up, you will let their criticism tear you down."
I broke my own rule and I gorged myself on people's love and hate- people who don't even know me.
I felt desperate and crazy and insane by the end of the night. I hatched a plan to concieve another baby and homeschool the one I have now and to never leave Annie with a sitter again- simply to prove to the world that I am not a selfish mom (fyi, that lasted less than 24 hours)- and I decided I would wear a burka on stage from now on to prove to the crazy-o's on youtube that I am not a slut- and in fact treasure myself as a dwelling place for God himself to inhabit- and I decided that I would be better at everything just to prove to everyone that I could be better at everything.
Did I mention I had lost my ever-lovin' soul in people's criticism and praise?
I wanted to call my mom. It was 4:00 a.m. but I despereately needed to call her and I needed to ask: Am I dressed like a whore? Am I bad mom? Am I a selfish person? Tell me mom, please,
who am I?
It was then that I heard God whisper back to me- in the midst of my Saturday night insanity- a flash in my head- a phrase- a question entered my soul. That is often how God speaks to me- He floats a thought my way that I clearly am not smart enough to come up with myself- something appears in my insanity that is sane- God is near
Jenny. Who do you say I am?
Who do you say I am
Who do you say I AM
When I heard the whisper, I knew it wasn't a question I was meant to answer, rather I got the sense that Jesus was inviting me back to the conversation that he had with Peter.
And there, in my living, it seemed a story played out. Or a 4:00 a.m. hallucination. It was the kind of daydream where you know you are awake, and yet, you are so far away from reality that you are somewhere else. And there I was, watching Jesus feeding 5,000 people. People clamoring for Him. For his words. For his touch. For his healing. For his presence. People clamoring for Jesus. Following him wherever he went. I was there watching their desperation for Jesus. Watching the people overwhelm a man I knew as a friend. And then he talked to his disciples. This rag-tag group of men, who were just trying to keep up with this man Jesus,who changed people by being in the same room as them.
"Who do the people say that I am," Jesus asks his weary disciples.
They answer him. Elijah. A prophet from long ago who has come back to life. John the Baptist.
"But what about you? Who do you say that I am?"
Peter answers, "You are God's Messiah."
And just as quickly, I was back in my living room.
I snapped out of it. And I felt silly. And humbled. And very much ready to go to bed. Exhausted.
I didn't need to call my mom or the people that truly know what kind of mother I am. I didn't need to seek the wisdom of one of my minister's, asking whether I had led people into sin because my dress was too low cut. I didn't need to wake my husband and ask that he remind me of all the good things about myself. I no longer needed these things. It had been settled.
And once again, I did not care about the praise or criticism. Not because I didn't care... I did and I do... but after this moment, it became irrelevant.
I realized in that moment that I had spent an entire day consumed with what people thought about me. And as I cried out for God or my mom or my husband or my pastor to tell me "who I was" God whispered back to me...
Jenny you are asking the wrong question
it's not about you, Jenny.
It's about me.
Who do you say that I AM?
That's all you need ask. That's the only question that is important.
Who Am I? And what will you do with that?
He gently redirected me. Off myself. Off the insanity that happens when we consider ourselves too highly or too lowly or simply too much. As a good shepherd who leads his sheep to the water; he led me back to the spring of life. The question that really matters. The one thing that is truly important. Not people's opinion of me or my clothes or my music or my mothering skills. Not about me at all actually. But about Him.
Who do you say I am?
If you want to be consumed, consume yourself with that.