The voices scream at me. "You are an awful mom, you didn't even tuck Ethan in last night, you just yelled at him to get in bed when he came downstairs for water for the third time." "There are no clean socks for the kids to wear! What kind of mom suggests that they wear dirty socks to school?' 'Why do
you always wait until the last minute to do everything? There are a million better wives, friends, housekeepers, organizers, mothers, etc. than you!"
These bullies attack me when I'm most vulnerable. They wait for me and pounce in the early morning hours when I hit snooze on my alarm. They stalk me as a sprawl out on the couch at the end of a long day. Their attacks are vicious and unrelenting. They pull my hair and scratch my arms leaving me feeling wounded, powerless and unmotivated to press on. They say things that are so nasty and mean; I would never associate with anyone who spoke to me that way. If anyone told me about friends like that I would advise them to run and never look back...but what if the voices are your own? What if the bullies that attack with such viciousness reside within you? Those cruel whispers that begin with a tiny spark and can rage into an inferno if I allow it.
I've had days when I've let the fire roar. The heat and intensity of the flames cripple me and I feel defeated. I sit paralyzed in my self-doubt and failure and I do nothing. The flames lick my cheeks and I close my eyes and the tears flow. I succumb to the pity party and let the fire rage until I'm left sitting in a pile of glowing embers.
God speaks of truth and grace. He longs to extinguish the voices and fight the fire for me. The truth is that I'm not a bad mom. Could I be a better organizer, housekeeper, and laundress, (who knew that was really a word?) of course. Should I have more patience at bedtime and re-establish expectations for last minute water requests, sure. Yet the voices want me to believe that without perfection, nothing is worth it. My measuring stick can't be what my OCD friends can accomplish, I can't parent based on the latest suggestions I've read in a magazine or what I perceive as a better kid/parent relationship I observe in a friend.
When I gaze at my reflection in the rear view mirror from my drivers seat, I must view the true reflection and not allow myself to see a distorted carnival mirror reproduction of what the 'voices' sometimes say I am not.
When I allow the voices to rule my day I cannot do anything. I stand and burn and God weeps. He created us for amazing things. He adores me (and you!) and when I allow the doubt and defeat to sweep me up I cannot pour into others.
God stands ready and waiting with the biggest fire engine I can imagine and he longs to blare the squealing sirens and douse the flames. I only need to ask. I pray that when you and I catch a glimpse of ourselves in a mirror this week, the only thing we see is a beautiful smile reflecting back all that God has gifted us to be...and if that smile is wearing red lipstick, even better.