When we are piling on all the pieces of expectations, we lose sight of who we are pleasing.
If I were a cartoonist I would love to draw a caricature of the modern woman. I’d skip the exceptionally large eyes the Disney princesses have made popular, along with the fancy dresses, and try to create something a little more average, a little more real.
I wouldn’t bother drawing a cute pair of heels or even yoga pants, for that matter. I would instead, clothe her in the expectation she is, we all are, really wearing.
Can you imagine?
I would draw her in a stay fit t-shirt and she could wear a cute pair of be a good wife jeans. I might sketch in a cook real food hoodie with the no preservatives tag clearly showing. She would definitely need an extra layer titled read your Bible and a hat that said keep your home photo ready. Her shoes would be of the serve well and give big variety.
Her accessories could preach to her as well – maybe a mentor someone scarf around her neck, and a lead well bangle hanging from her wrist. I would layer on some necklaces because that is a good look, right? And they would read start exercising, be a super mom, find fun friends, dress well, spend time with your aging parents. We could just keep on layering. Confidence is everything, hustle hard, take time for rest, travel. Serve your church, serve your neighbors, be present.
I might even add a trendy activity tracker to her arm but why stop at counting just calories and steps? We could adjust this one to track quality time with her kids and intimate encounters with her husband. It could track Bible reading minutes and friend time, a continual log of all those expectations she is wearing. She is already tallying them in her head anyhow.
The easiest part would be filling in those little thought bubbles floating above her head.
Is there dust on my bookshelf?
When is the last time I even read a book on that bookshelf?
Are my kids really alright?
I should check Instagram.
Why am I wasting all this time on Instagram?
Is my career even going anywhere?
Have I worked out lately?
I have nothing to wear.
When was the last time I washed bedsheets?
Why does everyone else have cute pictures of themselves doing fun things with friends on IG?
Is my marriage still in tact?
And of course, What should I cook for dinner?
I should probably add a long continual thought bubble running in the background- Will I ever be able to keep up – with my laundry, with my friends, with my dreams, with my life?
Shake It Off
Can you imagine that poor suffocating woman, laden down in wares and thoughts, expectations and all of her not enough-ness? It’s heavy to wear that, to live that. She would be smiling, but it would be forced.
I can see her clearly because I have seen her so often – around town, online, in the mirror even.
When I sketch her out, us out, this way, a comic seems apropos, doesn’t it? It’s too much, absurd. I want the next scene to be me shaking that poor woman until all of the excess falls away. I want to shake away the layers. the scales, the weight. So many shiny extras so many good things that were never meant to be piled on in the same season, at the same time. She piles. We pile.
The smile is hard to hold. She keeps pushing the fear of failure back, holding it at bay with that forced smile, but the skeletal frame was not designed to carry all of the expectation that she keeps piling on. The same is true of her heart, her soul.
No, I don’t want to shake her after all. If I shake her I might break her because she really is that fragile. I want to gently touch her chin and lift it up. I want to redirect her gaze in 90 small and large degrees. A subtle shift that changes everything.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. Psalm 5:3
Something changes when we shift our gaze. Ninety degrees becomes a swift 180 when we look up expectantly, as the NIV puts it. All that we see when we look out, the expectations we realize and internalize change when we realign our hearts with His, when we invite Him in to our very real here and now.
The world charges in fast, through our phones and our friends, our computers, our watches. Comparison leaks in through the smallest of cracks in a heart that is not shored up in Him. Daily.
Expectation breeds quickly, friend. We layer it on easy.
But everything changes when we begin to look up. We can ask the questions even in whispers and He hears.
Who do You say I am?
What do you have for me here?
He washes. He redeems. He leads us in righteousness, makes our path plain (Psalm 5:8). Expectation falls away and we catch a glimpse of who He is, when we look up.
Start here, friend. Let Him hear your voice in the morning before your day gets noisy and crowded. And look up.
Katie, I Choose Brave
Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.