There are places within my life that creep out without any announcement of its arrival. As I’m simply sitting, walking, going along my day, I’m hit with this sense of distress. It’s like a suffocation that begins in my toes and slowly makes it way to my neck. I feel overwhelmed and disconnected. Disconnected with life. Disconnected with being a mom, being a wife, or simply being. I want to run far away to release, but even doing that doesn’t stop the disjointed feeling within me.
This would describe how I felt on Saturday. Both girls napping and me folding laundry with Ben sitting in the chair next to me. I was irritable, frustrated, angry, annoyed and probably any other negative adjective you can think of to fill in the blank. I knew my fuse was super short and I couldn’t put my finger on it. All I knew is something was out of balance. I began to tell Ben about my frustrations. How I felt like I was endlessly working on our home (household duties that are neverending, i.e. feed girls, wash dishes, do laundry, clean & sweep, etc, etc, etc). I felt like I wasn’t being appreciated for the work I did. I was feeling like there were expectations being put upon me that I felt were unfair, or even unrealistic. As I was talking (being the extrovert that I am) out how I felt, whether it be rational or not, it was as if I was peeling away layers of an onion coming to the core of the real issue at hand. The cause of this suffocation. As if I was Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader clawing away at my skin to release myself from this metaphorical dragon skin.
As Ben listened to me and let me simply vent, I was able to scratch through the surface and two truths emerged from the core of these feelings. One was what Ben said, (as I paraphrase) “you don’t have to be Supermom, Superwife, or super anything. Remember it’s like what Rob Bell wrote about, ‘you need to take your Superwhatever and take it out back and kill it.” The second was me realizing I simply needed grace.
Now it’s Monday and I’ve been stewing in these words and feelings today. I pulled out Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell to find that chapter on the Superperson image. If you’re not familar with Rob Bell, he’s the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, making of the NOOMA videos, and in my personal opinion, is very refreshing to hear or read.
In the chapter, Tassels, in Velvet Elvis, he speaks about a time Mars Hills was growing and growing and he found himself in a closet between the 9:00 and 11:00 am service holding his keys, wondering how quickly he could get out of there. He was suffocated, like many, from trying to do it all. He was trying to be Superpastor. You know the image, doesn’t say no to anyone, needs to be the model father & husband, needs to live up to the potential that has been inscribed for self, basically a facade. No one can survive living a facade for long.
Let’s translate that to my feelings on Saturday and what I was really feeling. I would take something good in Scripture and slant it a bit, like Proverbs 31. A wife of noble character. As I looked at this description, I began to think how was I this wife and mother? How was I becoming “my ideal?” How was I living up to “my potential?” How was “I” filling or meeting my husband’s needs? How was I being a self-sacrificing mother? I mean, is it not a good thing that I have chosen to stay at home with my children, because it’s the best thing for them? I still believe that and I wouldn’t start working outside of the home to find “my grace,” but I was missing the mark.
Back to Rob Bell, he writes about the tzitzit appearing in Numbers 15, which are the tassels on the corners of the garment. The Israelites were to wear these tassels as a physical reminder to remember the commands of the Lord when they looked upon them. To not just remember the Lord’s commands, but where they came from. Not just where they came from, but who they were made to be. And not just who they were made to be, but how they were meant to live life (meaning for modern day: was I prescribing an anecdote that simply didn’t fit God’s for my life?)
What’s interesting about the tzitzit is how Jesus as a good Torah abiding Jew would have been wearing these on his prayer shawl when, the woman who was bleeding for 12 years touched the corner of his garment. But even more so is what Jesus said to the woman, “Go in Peace.” Too often peace is described (as Bell puts it) as “without conflict or absence of conflict,” but it’s so much more. It’s easy to find in Bellingham bumper stickers that say, “Know War Know Peace, No War No Peace,” which describes peace as a picture of all nations holding hands in unity. This picture misses the point.
To know peace is to know restoration. Jesus isn’t merely wanting to give us a peace without conflict or war–it’s deeper. Jesus was telling me on Saturday and today and constantly, “Kamille, go in peace, have shalom, walk in the total presence of my restoring, redemptive peace I’ve given on the cross. Not just in physical realities like the woman I healed, but the mental, emotional, all-encompassing peace. Let all of you be restored.” It’s this holistic beauty in the cross.
Salvation is more than simply saying a prayer and having a ticket to ride for free. It’s allowing Jesus to move through all of me. To have true shalom moving through me in all that I do. It’s the restoration of all things through Jesus. On Saturday, my way of doing things was breaking down. I had this image in my head of what “spiritual” looked like, what a “good” mom looked like, what a “loving” wife looked like.
Here Bell puts it very well: In addition, there is always a mystery behind the mystery. There is a reason we do what we do, and often it is the result of something that is the result of something that is–you guessed it–the result of something. What happens is we try to fix things, but we stop at the first or second layer. We’re stressed and so we make adjustments in time management. But a better question is, why do I take on so much? But an even better question is, why is it so hard for me to say no? Or even, why is that person’s approval so important to me?
But it’s even deeper than that and it’s not until you dig up everything–that you discover the core problem. The core problem is walking away from Shalom and walking in sin, which usually comes from a lifetime of lies I’ve believed about myself. I have believed in the facade of who I need to be and it’s an insult to the creative God who made me.
Instead, this is my job, “the relentless pursuit of who God has made me to be. And anything else I do is sin and I need to repent of it.” My job is not supermom, superwife, superbaker, superdaughter, superfriend, or whatever super fill in the blank I’m putting on myself. I need to kill the “super” image. I need to rest in God alone and get back to finding my identity in Him. I need to have my own tzitzit in my life to bring me back to the restoring grace and love of my Savior. I need to wipe out the voices of even good intentioned people in my life, because it detracts me from my job, “the relentless pursuit of who God has made me to be.” I still have a long ways to go in this journey, but I hope you’ll join me in it. I pray that we will find true shalom in our journey & we take our Superwhatever’s out back and kill them.