Pretty pictures don’t tell the whole story

A few weeks ago, I was having a day. You know the kind, when your two-year-old has smeared poop all over himself and the crib, your house is an epic disaster, the dishwasher isn’t working, the kids are acting like bedtime is a newly invented phenomenon, and your husband is out of town. A long, exhausting kind of day.

And on that same day, an acquaintance posted a picture of her kids, smiling and adorable, in their perfectly decorated living room, on their sofa that has no rips or stains, holding their adorable handmade crafts that they just whipped up on the spur of the moment. Bless.

That’s when it happens… the comparison. Clearly, she has it all together. She obviously didn’t spend an hour cleaning up poop. I’m sure her kitchen is sparkling and her kids were all in bed by 8pm. She’s a modern day homemaking miracle, and for the love of bedtime, I’m just wondering when it’s too early to pour myself some wine.

We don’t want to put our mistakes and shortcomings on the Internet for everyone to see. It’s easier to let people believe that we’ve got this handled. So we post the pretty, the bright and shiny, the status-worthy, the everyone-will-want-to-pin-this stuff. Because it’s what we’re proud of. It’s how we want people to see us – as people who have it all together and aren’t failing at life.

But pretty pictures don’t tell the whole story. We all know it, but we somehow believe that they do. We see the blogger with the perfectly decorated living room, nothing out of place. But we don’t see how she carefully budgets for a weekly cleaning service. We notice a friend who looks like she belongs on the cover of a magazine, despite having given birth to a house full of children. But we don’t notice that her marriage is falling apart. We scroll through Pinterest, pinning beautiful pictures, pin-worthy projects, and delicious recipes. But we don’t see the late hours, countless fails, and cropped out messes that went into each post. Because who’s pinning that?

I don’t think it’s being dishonest, to put your best face forward, because you don’t need to air your mess to the world. But newsflash: no one has it all together. I don’t. You don’t. Your favorite Pinterest-guru blogger doesn’t.

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There’s a lot of freedom in letting go. Letting go of the expectations we put on ourselves and the people around us to be and do every.single.thing. And to do it all perfectly.

I had the (amazing) opportunity to pre-read Jen Hatmaker’s new book For the Love that just released. This book is like sitting on the front porch with your bestie. The one who pops by your house, sees you in your ratty pajamas with your three day old hair and your toddler who is coloring on the wall, and she still tells you what an amazing mom you are. Jen reminds us that not only is living a perfect life impossible, we don’t even have to try.

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Jen helps you to put aside your unrealistic expectations for yourself and live in the freedom found in a grace-filled Father who loves us in our imperfection and calls us to love others in theirs. Plus, she’s pee your pants funny. Seriously, you might pee just a little bit.

So I’m going to sew my kids clothes, but they won’t always (ever?) be perfect. I’m probably going to let my dishes pile up a little too long. I’m going to let my kids play outside in the backyard instead of signing them up for soccer and zoo classes and gymnastics. I’m not going to care if my couches are ripped. Okay, maybe I’m going to care a little about that. But I’ll try not to. You might always have a clean sink, but you are perfectly happy buying all your clothes at Target. My thing isn’t your thing, and that’s okay.

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As Jen says in For the Love, “We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise.” If sewing, cooking, scrapbooking, running, (insert chosen hobby here) fills you up and makes you feel like a better person, daughter, sister, friend, wife, mom… then do that.  And let’s remember the people behind the pictures. Their pictures might be pretty, but they don’t have it all together, and neither do we. Let’s just live in the mess together and do our thing.

I wish I could give every one of you a copy of this book, but I can’t, so one lucky reader will win a copy of For the Love by Jen Hatmaker!

Click here to enter to win!

Open internationally, but winners outside the United States will receive a digital copy.

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9 comments

  1. I have a ripped couch and I don’t care so much until someone comes to visit and then I am like, “does she have a ripped couch too?”. Life is filled of comparison but we need to know when we are crossing our lines and say, “hey, this is me. I have to be cool with me”.
    I enjoyed reading this. Happy Sunday.

  2. What a great post (as well as pitch for a book). There is a great deal of freedom in embracing our unique imperfections. It’s also very liberating for our children – to be accepted for who they are and not for the outer trappings of cultural conformity. Greatness is a result of unbridled imagination and joy. Those qualities flourish on a foundation of love, not clean dishes and pretty clothes. :-)

  3. You have your house to live in…doesn’t mean you can keep everything in top notch condition…especially when you have a child, or children! They can really put a stop to complete organization! Regular things happen, and the unexpected happens…to everyone!

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