The children are away for the week, with my parents. Did you know that the day has twice as many hours in it when there are no children around? Remarkable!
You may have noticed my new facebook page. I left facebook just over a year ago. I was going through a rough patch. Really, all I wanted and needed were real friends. Not fakebook friends.
Every time I was on facebook, I would see someone’s post about how light and lovely their life was, or how successful they were in their chosen sphere, or how wonderfully blessed they had been, ‘hallelujah’ (sometimes true, but sometimes boasting). Or it would be utterly, godforsaken, inane babble about whether Bob is going to choose fish ‘n’ chips or curry for tea, or Betty’s endless posts about kittens doing Awww! Cutesy-wutesy kitteny stuff. Or the posts from Kelly about shoes and being a ‘yummy mummy’ to a perfect baby. Lots of people vying to compare themselves with one another.
Then there was the time I was bullied on facebook by classmates while studying for my Access to H.E. Diploma. These were adults resorting to playground bullying. Before I’d even had the chance to say anything, someone had reported it to the college. The would-be bullies were jealous because I’d scored distinction. Pathetic. On another occasion, someone I’d never even met started posting vile things about me. She had mental health problems, which she used as an excuse to be vicious, and expected people to be ok with that because of her ‘illness’ (and many were not only ok, but jumping on the bandwagon). No flippin’ way, José! I spent a decade doing that for the ex-husband and his ‘illness’.
Nowadays, some of my real friends are on facebook, but because they’re already my friends, we stay in touch in other ways. And people who were my ‘friends’ on facebook but who made little effort to know me in real life were probably quite relieved when I disappeared. It was a lifeline when I was an isolated single mother with a hyperactive autistic child, but other than that… well, if you like fakebook, good for you, but you get my drift. I left, and I have not looked back.
Anyway, today, while revising something on the Just Zoë, Just Life facebook page, I made a mortal error. I began looking up people I used to know, and used to be ‘friends’ with on facebook. Bad move. Even though I couldn’t see people’s ‘timelines’, there was the ‘I got such-and-such a degree at such-and-such a university’, ‘I went to such-and-such school’, ‘I work for such-and-such’. To someone like me, it’s rubbing my nose in how awesome everyone else’s life is, and how mine just hasn’t been, and still isn’t (though it’s a lot better). Even when it’s not how ‘awesome’ someone’s life is, just the fact they’ve had it fairly normal is enough to make me feel unworthy. I haven’t had the chance to do a lot – most – of those things. My youth, my dreams, are long gone, sacrificed through coercion to motherhood (NB my children come first, whether I chose to be a mother or not). Negative thoughts, feelings of envy and ‘why me?’ and ‘I’m different’ began to surface.
But I sighed and clicked the little red cross in the top right corner. Because I have learned that I have choices. I don’t choose to continually put myself up for display, ready to be admired or scorned, or anything. I’m just doing my best to be me.
Paul, at the end of his letter to the church at Philippi, says, ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you.’ Philippians 4:8,9
That’s what I’ve held onto since I left facebook, and it’s done wonders.
People seem to exist for the sake of labels sometimes. And for the labelling of those different from themselves. Facebook is the epitome of this! Some labels are helpful, for example my son’s diagnosis of autism. Most are not. They try to control the world by putting people into boxes.
The box I struggle with most often is the ‘What a Woman Should Be’ box. This box is everywhere, and filled with a different idea every time (facebook is overflowing with boxes)! There are cultural boxes that say I should work, and that housewives are leeching scum, misogynistic boxes that say all women must be sexually available at all times and should look like Barbie (have you seen the number of young women who look so similar they’re like plastic Barbie clones?), and supposedly-biblical boxes that say I must be a godly woman, who is genetically programmed to enjoy baking, sewing and housework. Either way, the labels on the boxes insist I must be the best woman that I can be.
But… I don’t want to bethe best woman that I can be.
I want to be the best me that I can be.
More importantly, the best me that God made me to be. If God’s the one who dishes out talents, I trust Him to get that right.
God made me. And He has given me loads of stuff that I’m good at, and I like doing. I don’t care about shoes (shoes? aren’t they something you wear on your feet so they don’t get cold and wet?) or make-up. I don’t particularly like baking. I don’t like needlework. I really don’t get any satisfaction from housework. I do it because I do it, but I never chose to be a housewife. Being a grown-up means getting on with it. My mother seems a natural housewife, which is great, but it’s not me. I find small-talk a challenge. It bores the pants off me. FlyLady, and a compassionate heart, are the reasons I have success at this job. There’s nothing innate in my DNA.
I’m just not a very girly girl. I like maths, music, writing, reading, experimenting with creating natural cleaning products (with a view to beginning a business one day), historical engineering, theology, science fiction… I love talking about big ideas. I really enjoyed the few chances I’ve had to preach, and I know I was good at it. I’ve discovered abilities in myself by way of leadership that I never knew I had. Strengths, a sense of ‘this is where I belong’ and ‘I need to follow this’.
I owe it to God, and I owe it to myself, to be the best me that I can be.
What about you? Do you feel that you are the best you that you can be, or are you jumping into boxes because you think you should?