Once upon a time, my “best” seemed to yield amazing results.
I managed to have myself stylishly dressed, with gracefully blended make-up from Macy’s and a professional blonde-streaked hairdo, five equally clean and well-put together kids, spare money in the bank and in my wallet, beautifully decorated home where I could entertain friends at a moment’s notice…. I was healthy, energetic, had time for things like prayer and self-improvement, I ran three businesses as well as home schooled… And I had no one to compare to unless I looked really hard and tried to be envious.
But that was before Pinterest.
That was before Facebook and Twitter were even “a thing” and cell phones were still mainly used for phone calls.
Now, I wake up in the morning to beautiful posts with perfectly photographed, perfectly arranged flowers and families and hair and DIY home projects and positive messages and life hacks and outfits I can’t afford. Pinterest practically sneers at me, out loud even, and Facebook has a “couples challenge” where everyone is posting sweet pictures of their dating life and sending adorable messages of love across the Internet for all to see, as well as people’s advancement in some network marketing “rank,” new relationships or even old ones that are still fresh and alive, and people with energy and passion (if you ignore the people who have hours on their hands to debate politics). Facebook shows people’s nicely shined wood floors, marble countertops, stainless steel appliances, nice new (in your face) vehicles, and selfies on vacation…. My email inbox contains thousands of daily advertisements for new ways I could spend my money if I had it all together. Five percent off here, and 30 percent off there….
But I’m struggling to make my car payment.
I am the millions of unseen, the millions of people who wake up in the morning and are nervously happy that the lights are still on, that my marriage relationship is still somehow intact, that cherishes my beautiful children but secretly feels like a failure because I don’t have a fancy account saved up for them or their college…. I don’t have enough to help them have a “cool” hobby, let alone a hobby for ME.
I am one of the millions of unseen who doesn’t get a shower everyday, who wants everything else all those “positive and motivated” people want but doesn’t know where to begin anymore, who tries to strive for holiness and friendship but doesn’t honestly have an extra minute or dollar for gas, who’s kids are well-fed not with fancy organic food but rather with what we gratefully get from the food pantry and Amish “salvage stores.”
I am one of the millions of unseen who doesn’t have a fancy parenting technique, who has to take each day moment by moment, who is counter-cultural by family size but am judged as “imprudent” by society and therefore I DESERVE to be poor… I mean, duh!
I can’t be found on Pinterest unless people suddenly took an interest to dirty mounds of laundry and dishes that literally make me laugh. Clever new sewing craft? I can’t even find my sewing machine or the time and money it would take to put the thing where a million boys wouldn’t want to “discover” what that machine is all about. Also, I don’t know how to sew.
If I am on Facebook, it’s because I love people and I truly care for them. But oftentimes it’s thankless and harsh and a large deceptive pit where we get thrown into quasi-friendships and debates and people that spy but say nothing and those that brag and those that fight and those that…. you guessed it… are in the millions like me, but don’t want to admit it.
The Internet has thrown us into a game where we can’t really win, unless we’re in that same 2% where there will always be “winners.” The ones that get lucky, that go (pleasantly) viral, the ones who have something to brag about in reality, the ones who had amazing cards dealt to them and they handle those cards beautifully….
That’s not me. I’m the other 98% who does NOT have it “together”… that is, if we’re talking about the world, and comparing myself to billions of people.
But that’s just it. If we look at at our lives locally, if we put down our phones, does the picture look different? Do people walk up to your front door to tell you how much they love their spouse, how nicely they have it, and show you their latest cute hand-sewn baby elephant project? Do they show you selfies and give you a positive quote? Do they come to your door and then “block” you or “unfollow” you because you drive them crazy?
Of course not.
Because cyberspace is just that: cyberspace. Yes, my friends, I’ve largely failed at cyberspace. I’ve been juggling a thousand balls and one by one they seem to topple as I grasp for them; actually sometimes I just drop them all.
But then the church bells chime in my little town. My children get up with sloppy hair and cute pajamas and give me a morning hug. The cat purrs. I may or may not brush my teeth. I may pay the one bill I can afford. I snuggle the squishy chunky baby and put on whatever’s clean and within my reach. Who knows (or cares) if it matches. The sun begins to rise and the beautiful green leaf-saturated trees gently wave in the breeze. My husband brings me some toaster oven-baked hash browns as a little gesture of kindness. The toilet is still leaking (can’t afford a plumber), so there’s an “ambient trickling waterfall sound” in the background, if I want to make it sound fancy. Little footsteps begin their pitter-pattering in search of breakfast and summer shenanigans.
None of this would go viral or make it to Pinterest. Or anywhere….
Except for perhaps in my heart, and the heart of One who does see these tiny, even seemingly failing efforts.
So today, I would like to give a big THUMBS UP and a LIKE and a PLUS to all the millions like me. To the thousands who have things worth posting that are perfect and are cheered-for by many and are extraordinary: keep up the good work. But this isn’t for you.
This is for US. The ones who simply “made it” today. We managed to wake up, and we managed to give it a go, one more grueling day, with little consolation and no praise. This is for US, who sometimes just have to pat ourselves on our un-massaged back as we scarf down a GMO-ridden candy bar. This is for those of us who experience darkness and uncertainty and discomfort and poverty in a cyberspace-filled world that threatens to make us feel as if we get an F in life.
No, we get an A. An A PLUS even. Because we are still here, we ARE loved, and we DO have a purpose, even if it’s to take one more breath.
All my love,