It is a crazy old world we live in nowadays; everyone and everything is so driven, so target focused and so opinionated. Whatever happened to live and let live? Or don't worry, be happy? OK they are cliches but for me I don't think they will ever go out of date.
I've come to realise that many of the things that make me unhappy or uneasy are from the pressure I feel. Pressure to conform, to be perfect, to be online everywhere, to be the best parent, have the most successful blog and to always succeed. Logically I know none of these things are right, never once did Jesus say 'my disciples, you must strive to be the best and only then will I accept you'. No, never.
Instead what bible says is 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.' (John 3:16 ESV) That message is for every one of us, He accepts and loves all of us, we just have to make the choice to accept Him back, I also love the verse that days 'Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?' (Matthew 6:26 NLT).
As a Christian I must stand firm in what I know is the truth and that is what I read in the bible and what I know in my heart is from God but boy can that be a struggle at times. The world tells me something so different and that of course is why I am told to be in the world but not of it. As a Christian I am supposed to be living and acting different to my peers, to be above reproach, but this is so incredibly hard at times. I am sinful and imperfect and I get things wrong but I'm working on it. Thank goodness for grace - Gods acceptance of me and my imperfections.
This morning I was chatting to a friend outside school and I commented how good her four year old was sitting there having her hair French plaited. My friend told me that she chose to have it plaited each day as there were girls in her class that would not play with the girls who wore a ponytail rather than a plait. How can this be people? They are four, where does it come from that a four year old will choose to exclude others based on their looks. I hate it and it really makes me want to weep. I suspect one of the things I hate about it most is that at least one of my children may act in the same way without my knowing.
I've always been really lucky with JJ and he has never caved to peer pressure (well except for when he refused to take egg mayo sandwiches to school any longer due to the smell) but the girls seem much more susceptible to it and of course JJ heads to secondary this September, so who knows what may happen then? Whilst I am really happy to allow him to be exactly who he is and to express himself through his clothing I also have the hidden worry that he may get picked on for his lack of interest in fashionable or stylish clothes, I just pray we have taught him enough resilience to be able to deal with criticism and still stay true to himself.
I think I have my dh to thank for JJ being comfortable in his own skin as he has never followed trends or bent to anyone else's expectation of what he should look like and whilst at times I would love a more stylish husband on my arm, my overriding feeling is one of pride in his self-confidence. I need to remember this as I buy JJ some trainers today and he just wants cheap generic ones, as like he says 'I hate sport Mum, I won't wear them much' but my instinct would be to get some Nikes, Adidas or whatever the cool ones are for 12 year old boys nowadays. But I'll keep reminding myself that my hang-ups are not his and fashion and body image are not biggies to him and I truly thank the Lord for that.
When I sit and take time to reflect on these childhood examples of pressure from peers or the media to look or act a certain way it is so useful. I'm thankful that with a lot of prayer and down-time I've come to a place of knowing that I do not have to be everything to everyone and that I really cannot achieve even half of what I hope to as I am a woman with ridiculously high expectations.
Of course blogging is such a visible hobby that many of us feel under pressure or the spotlight and I think after a few years of blogging or intense social media interaction we all realise that to follow every trend and to connect well with people takes hours and hours, time we often do not have when we have family, friends, jobs and so much more in real life that needs us. I've really enjoyed watching Annie's journey over the last year or so as she has worked out what makes her happy and where she should be focusing her time. It is a journey we should all take. The journey to knowing who we really are and staying true to make whats us content. For many of us having a voice and a platform to share our passions and troubles is enough and we do not have to be the number one blog in the UK.
For today I can truly tell you that my name is Michelle and I'm feeling good. I have balance in my life. I too the kids to school I have tied the house, I'm now writing this post and at 11am I'll got to work for a few hours before taking the kids to the lake this afternoon. Then I'll come home and cook and be Mum until they are all in bed and then the computer will come out again and I'll do all the work/ admin associated with bogging. Life is good here in East Sussex, I hope it is for you too.
If it is not, then please work out how you can change it as let me share with you that we now live on one eighth of the money dh and I used to earn and we are happier than we have ever been. We have an old car, we're not buying a house and our only holidays are blogging ones but because we left the rat race of the home counties we now have balance in our lives and plenty of time as a family.
I pray today the pressure lifts for you and your family.
Be blessed, Mich x