Together...but Falling Apart

I had his post sitting in my blog que to schedule for a while. Then last night I met with someone and we had a conversation about young moms and how we have all felt alone at times…no matter our age…in the midst of what we think  life is supposed to look like, we can feel very alone and as though we don’t measure up. Add Pinterest in and the idea that playtime should be a perfect blend of education and artistic expression; snacks should present visual stimulation as well as nutrition – blah, blah, blah!

Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest and have obviously executed several successful and unsuccessful projects inspired by Pinterest boards. I also love all of the blogs that I read about home décor, crafting, cooking, etc. However, what I am really starting to embrace is the Behind the Scenes (BTS, if you will) aspect of these things. The knowledge that, no matter how pretty the photograph is, behind the camera there is probably a pile of dishes, or laundry, or Legos, or paperwork. There is dog hair on the couches, dust on the tables, and so on and so forth.

My formal living and dining room right now - preparing for a birthday party can only be part of the excuse!

My formal living and dining room right now - preparing for a birthday party can only be part of the excuse!

In light of the photography analogy, I have shared a few photos here of my BTS right now. I took these today – seriously about 20 minutes ago. This is what my house looks like at this very minute. What I didn’t take a photo of is the unmade bed (because I need to wash the sheets). Or a photo of the massive pile of laundry in the master bathroom (I mean, it’s gotten so big I’m fearful!). There is dust so thick on my entertainment center that the reason I am sneezing is probably not the wind and allergens outside, but the small archaeology sites on my furniture!

Pool towels, shoes from gardening, etc. At least the dishes are done!

Pool towels, shoes from gardening, etc. At least the dishes are done!

This is my real. My ugly. My so very not perfect life. I don’t always embrace it like I should and, even more often, I judge myself based on what the house looks like or what I have accomplished each day.

No excuses...I'm not even one of those creative who can't work in a clean space. This is disgraceful!

No excuses...I'm not even one of those creative who can't work in a clean space. This is disgraceful!

That being said, there is also an aspect of BTS in our lives and hearts as well. When you meet someone and you think they have it all together, most likely they do not. Our perceptions of others are so often based on what we think their lives are like, and what we wish ours were like. We hope that we are looking pretty good to others, but inside we are using tape and glue to keep the pieces together.

Some examples (both personal and from talking to people in my world – believers and non-believers…we are all human!) of “Together…Falling Apart”:

Someone has what looks like such an amazing and tight group friends and they are always getting together, planning events, having fun. What you don’t see is the person planning all of that stuff longing for someone else to step up and do that same for her/him. She feels as though she continues to pour out and is close to being empty…but pushes through, smiles and moves forward.

The mom who is so proud of her children and devotes time and energy planning gatherings and events based around family time. Inside she is crying and desperate to keep everyone together because she is scared to death her family will all move away and leave her. Even though that is normal, it breaks her heart and scares her to her core. Yet, she smiles, plans he next event and moves forward.

The Pastor and his wife who spend days and nights ministering to their church members and community. Praying, talking, sitting. While they are called to this passion, still inside they long for someone to do the same for them. For someone to just show up and stay – not asking anything of them, not judging them or holding them to an unattainable standard. They take another deep breath, put on a smile and move forward.

The only child who spends many hours laughing with his parents. Going out to dinners, planning family vacations, helping them with projects on his home and their home. As they get older he spends more time with them talking about retirement and their new life and his life also changes. All the while he secretly ponders the day they will no longer be here on earth and he will be alone to grieve his loss. Yet, he never shows his concerns, smiles and laughs with everyone and moves forward.

The woman who so generously makes wonderful gifts and meals for all of her friends, family, church events, etc…she gives with a smile and a happy heart. At home you don’t know that she is budgeting to the penny and wondering how she will pay for her medicine next month. But she puts on her apron to make dinner, puts on a smile and moves forward.

The person you are ‘friends’ with on Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram…or any other Social Media platform) who has so many friends you think they must be so popular and you are lucky they have ‘friended’ you. Behind the scenes you don’t see their heart breaking because someone who used to follow/like/post on their platforms no longer does so and they are wondering what they did wrong and why they are not liked. But they keep posting as though life is perfect behind the screen, and they move forward.

The woman who watches her grandkids and their friends every chance she gets. She takes them to the park, to the zoo, creates fun time making cupcakes and crafts at the dining room table. However, the morning before the kids arrived, when she rolls over in bed she aches so badly she wonders how she will get out of the bed, much less how she will greet the loves of her life without grimacing when she bends down. But, she slowly walks to the kitchen to take a pain reliever and work through the aches. She puts a smile on and she moves forward.

We are not perfect. To pretend we are is just debilitating and energy sucking. We need to remember that when we are “doing life” with our friends, family and acquaintances. They are all going through stuff behind the scenes. Even happy people are going through their version of “stuff”. It is inevitable because we are broken people in a broken world, living in broken bodies, with broken hearts. So, while we are going through our own stuff, we need to be mindful that everyone in our world is also going through their stuff. The person you meet at Starbucks may look all put together, but they aren’t…they are struggling too.

Here’s the deal…we need to remember that life is not about having it all together. We need to take care to understand comparison robs us of joy – and when you compare yourself to someone you think has it all together, you are not being fair to yourself or to them.  

Perhaps it is time that we offer up grace as a regular gift – to ourselves and to those around us.

Grace is powerful…and it is a great fuel to keep us smiling and moving forward.