My life is not any more real than yours, I’m sure. Everyone’s life is real, right?
This is my attempt to show a piece of a real life. Just one life.
I only have one.
No filters. No posing. No focusing on only the good…or only the bad.
Don’t get me wrong, I see no problem with wanting to change, to improve, to better oneself. I also see nothing wrong with wanting to hide the parts of us we don’t want others to see. We don’t have to hang out all of our dirty laundry. But it is also OK to be real. It is OK to accept that we all have strengths and weaknesses and to own ours.
Most likely you are also not the very best or very worst at any one thing. You are a combination of your personality, your strengths, your weaknesses, your upbringing, your environment, your history, your desires, and your relationships with others. Who you are right now is a person full of potential for good.
We all have a potential for good. And we all have weaknesses.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in October 2017, “Many (if not most) of the pictures posted on social media tend to portray life at its very best—often unrealistically. We have all seen beautiful images of home decor, wonderful vacation spots, smiling selfies, elaborate food preparation, and seemingly unattainable body images.
Comparing our own seemingly average existence with others’ well-edited, perfectly crafted lives as represented on social media may leave us with feelings of discouragement, envy, and even failure.”
We don’t need more discouragement, envy, and failure, so let’s get real.
Much of who I am is connected to the flaws I have fully and half-heartedly attempted to diminish. I have strengths, too, I’m sure, but so often strengths and flaws are simply in the eye of the beholder. For example, I believe one of my strengths is that I can walk across a rocky street in my bare feet because I rarely wear shoes and built up an invulnerability to rocks. I also can eat a whole bag of Cheetos in one sitting. People who do not like Cheetos and bare feet probably think my strengths are actually flaws. If you are one of those people then I guess you must accept that I am filling this post with my flaws.
Flaw number one (unless you count the others I’ve already noted above): I always have a messy house. I know there are exceptions, but I believe that most people who have small children in the home have fairly messy houses. This comes with the territory. I refuse to follow them around cleaning as I go. My mother says that when she was a small child her mother did just this. Grandma Anderson loved a clean house. One of the chores Mom remembers was scrubbing the underside of the stairs in the storage room. If this sounds like a decent routine chore to you, take a minute to reconsider visiting my house unannounced.
Mom was somewhat traumatized by an overly clean house, and chose to raise her children in a much different way. So perhaps I can put the blame of my messy house on my mother (flaw/strength 2 (or 10): I am never to blame).
God says, “Behold, mine house is a house of order… and not a house of confusion.” (D&C 132:8) He is speaking of the temple here, but various leaders have pointed out that this refers to our own homes as well. I know that I am supposed to have a clean house because this is where peace and comfort reign. But man, this one is hard.
I dislike cleaning floors above all other household chores. Yes, I would even take cleaning toilets over floors. Actually, I also hate cleaning windows, but this is easily remedied by blinds, curtains, and a certain ability to forget what I cannot see.
I cleaned my windows once. Well, some of them. We were trying to sell our house and needed it to look nice. But then our house sold before I had finished all of the windows, and I never did get around to cleaning those others. I will just assume the new owners probably never noticed.
The problem of dirty floors is slightly more pressing. People do start to notice when the floor surrounding the highchair is strewn with what appears to be at least three meals worth of the evidence that baby really was all done. It is difficult to explain that the remnants artfully decorating the floor are all actually only from one meal’s efforts to find something, anything that the little one would eat.
At least it looks as if he eats healthy, I can think to myself. The peas, tuna, and whole wheat bread pieces mask the fact that all he really ended up eating was Cheetos. Of course, there is no evidence of that anywhere. He did not throw the Cheetos.
I clean my floors approximately once a week. If you want to see them clean, please schedule an appointment. If you do, however, take note that I generally do not vacuum on the same day I wash floors.
I used to vacuum much less. When I first moved to my former house, my oldest was three and my baby was two. I was very careful (well…more careful than now) about having them stay at the table with their very healthy snacks and washing up when they were done. I was seven months pregnant and vacuuming was difficult, so I kept it clean as long as possible. I pulled out the vacuum one day and my two-year-old, ever curious, asked, “What is it?” as if she had never seen it before. My older child, who at least recognized the vacuum, asked, “Who’s coming over?”
After the birth of my fourth child, I gave up on making my kids sit at the table every time they ate. At snack time my unfortunate youngest was usually handed a bag or box of whatever, (probably Cheetos) and told to, “Dig in.”
I try to clean house before I have visitors, but sometimes this is not an option. A few summers ago, my sister-in-law brought her four children to my house unexpectedly.
I had been in a mad rush to get everyone ready that morning. So naturally there were pajamas strewn everywhere, cereal bowls half full of cereal and milk on the table, and toys in random piles throughout the house. There were yesterday’s dinner dishes next to the sink, piles of laundry half folded and half recently folded and now not so folded, and of course the floors were dirty.
Derry, my sister-in-law, walked in and said, “Oh, this makes me feel so much better- just to know that your house gets messy, too.”
No judgement. Just love. And even some appreciation for my messy house.
Here is my plea to everyone. First, recognize that you are an amazing human being with all of your quirks, your strengths, your failures, and those things you just cannot quite seem to master. Second, share with others all of the parts of who you are. You never know who you will influence for good. Third, share your appreciation for others’ situations.
Elder Stevenson reemphasized the message of Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson in the October 2017 general conference, “Success in life doesn’t come down to how many likes we get or how many social media friends or followers we have. It does, however, have something to do with meaningfully connecting with others and adding light to their lives.”
Sharing experiences and difficult or humorous moments makes a difference in the lives of others who can relate. People want to know that there are others who others who struggle getting little ones to sit still for scripture study, others who experience pain and suffering, and others who cannot keep those blasted floors clean. Shared experiences bring comfort and bonding.
Elder Stevenson said, “Hopefully, we can learn to be more real, find more humor, and experience less discouragement when confronted with images that may portray idealized reality and that too often lead to debilitating comparisons.”
I second that. I hope we can all be more real. I hope we can all embrace who we are as children of God with a great potential. And I hope we can do so with a smile knowing we are not alone and that there is someone else out there who eats an overabundance of Cheetos.
Sarah is a 32-year-old lover of literature, music, movies and all things beautiful. She has four uniquely imperfect children and an amazingly intelligent husband who keeps her engaged in living. She currently spends her days playing basketball on a 3-foot hoop, coaching her children’s soccer teams, trying to remember long division, and all around pretending she knows how to be an adult. Her goal in life is to help all people she comes across recognize their pure awesomeness!
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