Despite feeling as if I should know better at my age, there are still times when I catch myself looking at those around me and comparing myself with them. I still find myself noticing the fact that I am different from them and at times that causes me to feel inadequate. Sound familiar? So, for example, I currently work within an academic context and at times I feel inadequate because I don’t feel clever or articulate enough.
My friend Lizzie has written a beautiful post on saltwaterandhoney.org describing her thoughts and reactions to Mother’s Day. I wanted to respond.
I was lifted by Lizzie’s comment that those of her friends who are mothers should not be defined by motherhood. I loved her reminder that they are women who have so much to offer to society and the church, regardless of whether they have children or not. I love that because it’s open to us all. I am a woman who has so much to offer to society and the church, regardless of whether I have children or not. The same could be said of men, regardless of whether they are fathers or not.
It can be so easy for me to hide within my fortress of difference during times of stress or tiredness, in particular. In some ways it provides an identity for me, albeit a negative one! I am not a mother, I am not an academic and so on. I know that by focusing on what I am not I am building the walls higher, running the risk of isolation and loneliness. However, there are times when the sense of inadequacy can be overwhelming and there is nothing else to do but retreat, as a way of protecting yourself. I am grateful that I am learning not to live out of this place, but it has taken a while to be able to say this.
This is where Lizzie comes in. She is vulnerable and wise, giving many people a voice where they had none. She is not afraid to say that she is hurting, but does it in such a way that doesn’t place blame at the door of others. She provides us with a contemporary lament and shares with us her struggles, hopes and prayers. She shares from a particular context, but I believe she speaks into lives in a way that transcends context and heads straight for our sense of who we are. She offers a light to those of us who are familiar with the places she describes, where light is often missing. She brings the God of love into our lives through her beautiful words and I am grateful for that.