Sunday, June 03, 2007

Peace by the grace of God (FlyLady post part 2)

Right off, I can think of two big struggles/pains in my life until now. One was the issue of fitting in and feeling normal, like I belong somewhere and am not cut off from the rest of the human race, unable to understand or be understood. Another was feeling that if I don't do certain things, I'm not a good person.

For some reason feeling normal in society isn't just tied to simple externals of dress and manners that society can see, but to the "normal" parts of home life hidden from everyone, cleaning and organizing. I can tell from FlyLady that there are a lot of people who have problems with those things, but it still feels like abnormality. In college it became more painful, because my friends seemed to know how to go about life – for example, they were used to good meals and so cafĂ© food sucked (I thought it was great, most of the time!). They missed their parents and the pleasures of home, although they were glad to be given the chance to be free of their parents' rules (what rules?). Going off to college wasn't hard for me because of homesickness, it was hard because I knew, living in the dorm, my "abnormality" would be so exposed to any roommate, and because I didn't feel grown-up enough yet – just in a different way than my friends didn't. They had the tools they needed to become grown-up, rather than having had to pretend to be grown-up since junior high (or at least that's how it felt -- I know many people are good actors and had plenty to deal with, too). FlyLady is great because it's helped me to learn those "normal" things in a non-pain laden way. She really is like a mom!

But the normal thing isn't the most important part. Somehow, in spite of Mom's actions, she managed to pass on to me through her words this idea that if you don't manage to do all your tasks, if you don't keep your house clean and reply to letters and do your homework on time etc., you are intrinsically a bad person. In recent years I've recognized that she taught me that and that it's completely unbiblical – yes, we are bad people saved by Jesus' blood, but it's not because of not keeping our houses clean, it's because of failing to love God and others, the other things are just tools to help you love (c’mon, Jesus died primarily to pay for our lack of discipline, in and of itself?!) – but my emotions about it are pretty entrenched. I try and try and try to be good enough and I never am. I always fail. No matter what I know, that can be quite a struggle for the self-esteem to deal with! I mean, the same is true of trying to love. Humanly speaking, we always fail. But always failing at the things Mom thought were important feels worse in some ways, I guess because it seems like there are plenty of people managing those things with no problem. So what am I, worse than other humans? I always felt that if I could just change one thing (insert name here), it would make everything better. I have to have hope because otherwise I'll die of the pain. And then it fails, and I feel like I am going to die. So I grab onto something else to give me hope. (I'd try to have hope in God, but since He never changes, it was hard to trust that He would suddenly stop the cycle.)

I think I love FlyLady so much because I think somehow she's managed to break the power of that cycle so simply and quietly. (And I thank God for her, all the time. She's done it, but to me, that means that God has chosen to use her to do it. Thank You, so much, Lord!) With her, this organization of my life is suddenly easy! And if I fail one day, it doesn't threaten my whole system. Instead of hearing Mom's voice which can only ask me why I failed, I hear FlyLady telling me it's ok, she's proud of me, and not to let my perfectionism stand in my way! You'd think I'd be bitter about it – all this time this thing I've been struggling with is easy, and no one told me?! – but I'm not. Instead, it's more like, “Ha! It's ridiculous to think that not doing this stuff would make me a bad person, because it's so easy!” The problem the whole time wasn't that I wasn't good enough, it was just that I never had a mom to teach me! Cool! And it helps my attitude towards Mom a little bit because it's one more way that I can see something can be incredibly easy and yet incredibly hard. Even now there are struggles and things that are hard, but... it's easy. The whole quality of it has changed, I guess. It's hard to describe. I'm just happy.


MirCat said...

this is easily the most profoundly persuasive recommendation for FlyLady's teachings that I've ever seen. I imagine that there are many, many people in our generation who are in similar need of gentle, loving guidance. ::hugs:: congrats on an amazing self-discovery! :)

aelthwyn said...

It sounds like my mother needs FlyLady. I know she never feels like she's good enough, and always feels obligated to do everything, and obligated to do it all perfectly, and is anxious that other adults will find her less than standards viewing them almost as a child would, like grand judges siting above her haveing everything together and every right to criticize. I didn't understand the symptoms of this outlook for what they were as a child, but looking back I can see how this 'never good enough' way of thinking effected much of what she said and did. The strange thing is that she never imparted that to me...I don't really know how she managed it. She was always accepting and encouraging toward my shortcomings and differences, even if she couldn't be to her own. I'm so glad that you've found a new inner voice that doesn't have to nag =)

oh, and another thought....I know what you mean about those less important, or not-actually-a-moral-issue-at-all things, somehow seeming worse than the real problems. I've often felt like people were trying to make me feel like a bad person over those kinds of things and have often had to beat back such accusations in my mind when I can hear what someone's going to say, even when I don't think it myself, it can still feel opressive when it seems like lots of other people want to make you think that way. One of the 'Christianisms' that always seemed the most annoying to me was when they'd say "do everything as if you're doing it for the Lord." Which, when they said, it really meant "you have to do everything exactly perfect, in fact better than perfect" because afterall, God deserves waay better than anything we little mortals can do. But that attitude totally misses what the real meaning of that is. It doesn't mean you have to be perfect by your own will and determination, that's being saved by works, instead it means that God should be our focus, always on our mind, doing things not to gain the appreciation of other people but wanting to honor God. In some cases this would mean doing exactly the opposite of what they want that phrase to mean...sometimes there are more important things to God's heart than the trivial matters that people expect you to perform perfectly.

Also, you mentioned feeling like you had to pretend to be grown up....I think we have this impression when we're younger that people older than us have things all figured out, but I think that's really rarely the case. They may have a few more things figured out, but at the same time, sometimes we un-figure things out as we grow up too, and in the end no one is ever going to have all the answers. It can feel discouraging when you don't feel as on-top-of-things and as 'old' as you thought you were supposed to, untill you realise that actually everyone is a little lost, and a little struggling, and a little confused, and most of the feeling old has do to more with joints than confidence, so really, you're right on track. - It was funny and strangely encouraging to hear the 70something year old guy I work with saying that he still doesn't feel as old/mature as he thought his grandfather was who died in his 60's. =)