Monday, August 23, 2010

The challenge to love...

Hi, my FABULOUS friend! I can't believe it's been a whole week since I've written. To say the least, things have been a little crazy in the Tracey house. Jeremy's been sick for well over a week and I think it's thrown all three of us off our game. I know that these several days have worn me down completely!

Don't get me wrong...I feel badly for Jeremy. Even tonight he's still struggling and it's been what, 10 days now? And, that has got to be frustrating. At the same time, trying to operate without him up to his usual "snuff" has left me, well, I guess TESTY is a good word for it. I feel guilty for being this way, but it's reality.

Trying to operate as a single parent, host an afternoon show without my co-host, and keep the house running without the help of a hubby who is usually more on top of it than I am has left me more than exhausted and far too low on patience. So, when Jeremy returned to work today I was happy for him and secretly elated for me! Until we started bickering off mic in the control room.

You have to love trying to have a heated discussion three to six minutes at a time while a song or two are playing and you don't have to be talking on the air. It's actually pretty comical.

"You're being selfish!"
"I'm being selfish? I think the problem is that you're being stubborn!"
"I'm not being stubborn, I'm just right!"
"You have got to admit that...10 seconds"
(SMILE IN THE VOICE) "Family Friendly 91.5 WCIC..."

In the end, we both realized how childish we were being. I think the frustration and lack of life as normal has caused us both to be more than a little short-tempered. So much for being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry, huh? I guess that's why this whole becoming FABULOUS thing is a process and not an overnight event.

I realize that, like most women I know, I'll probably struggle with impatience and a short fuse my entire life. The Apostle Paul talks in the Bible about a thorn in the flesh that he'd prayed often for God to remove but that always remained. If Paul had been a wife and mother in 2010, I'd say without a doubt that losing it with the ones he loved had to be the thorn he wrestled with day in and day out.  So many of my friends have said that being patient and loving with their spouses and kids is a constant challenge. The question is, why? Why do we all struggle so much with testiness, impatience, and downright anger?

You know what I think? I think it all boils down to expecting TOO MUCH from ourselves. Everywhere we look we're faced with depictions of perfection that convince us we simply don't measure up. On any one of a dozen popular sitcoms we could watch on any given night we might find a drop-dead-gorgeous, exquisitely dressed wife presenting a well-reasoned yet witty position on a subject over which she and her hubby are currently disagreeing. She calmly presents her case while skillfully dishing out the gourmet meal she's effortlessly whipped up after a long day of work. As she sets the table she grabs a beautiful hand-painted platter from an eclectic-yet-classic curio that perfectly compliments the decor of her well-organized designer living space that's always tidy despite the three kids who share that space but are somehow never seen or heard from until they have a funny line to deliver before grabbing an apple and heading to their rooms to study. And, all the while, she never raises her voice or makes an ugly face but still manages to emerge from the "discussion" victorious and somehow even more perfect than she appeared at the beginning of the scene!

Can we even count all the ways we've been told that we just aren't cutting it in this five minute segment? Before the cut to commercial we've learned that a good mom works hard (in her way too pointy shoes) all day, comes home to prepare a flawless meal, always looks put together, is in great shape, is an excellent homemaker, and has taught her children to not only be entertaining, but to study hard and eat right. We've learned that nothing frazzles or rattles her. In the midst of all the balls she's juggling ever so elegantly, she can even manage to have a "classy" fight with her husband. Nothing he says causes her to lose her cool. No matter how heated the discussion, she's always cool and composed, never resorts to name calling, and somehow asserts her opinion without sounding like a nag. Who can measure up to this? Not me, that's for sure.

We live in an imperfect society surrounded by images of false perfection. Why do we do this to ourselves? Other countries don't go to this extreme. The summer after I graduated from college I lived in England, working in an inner-city mission in Birmingham. It was an incredible experience that allowed me to see things from another perspective. One of the big differences I noticed between that culture and ours was the overall lack of focus on clothing. Most of the people I worked with at the mission had "a" sweater, "a" jacket, and "a" pair of jeans. And, that less-is-more attitude seemed to make it's way to the television as well. I remember being shocked when I caught some of the British daytime dramas and realized that many of the actresses repeated articles of clothing. Sometimes they actually wore a favorite shirt or dress several times, and I found this weirdly liberating. It was like a breath of fresh air. Who needs closets of clothes when we all usually wear a handful of outfits most of the time anyway? So, why do we watch program after program filled with characters who not only have immaculate houses, but somehow find space to cram in an impossibly sized wardrobe that's always hip, perfectly laundered, and never in disrepair?

OK, I'm tangent-ing just a little. But, the point is valid, don't ya think? We women are surrounded with images and portrayals of the perfect wife, mom, and all around intelligent, witty, and sexy girl. It's no wonder that when we look at our own homes that get cluttered all too easily and view our own often worn-out wardrobes and hear our own sometimes too shrill and nagging voices that we get a little down on ourselves. We want to be everything that is good and right for our families. We just sometimes forget what that means.

You see, this past week, I was focusing so hard on trying to keep everything running smoothly while Jeremy was out of commission that I forgot to just dote on him...and on Alyssa as well. I wanted to be Super-Girl to the rescue so badly that I failed to be adoring wife and nurturing Mommy at times.  Instead of striving to be perfect, I should have made the FABULOUS decision to simply love my family.

This brings me to the second area of focus on this new adventure in becoming FABULOUS. We've talked about how the FABULOUS woman Follows God Fiercely. We've set up our plan to read the Bible and talk with God in prayer every day. We've determined to commit more of God's words to memory and strive to apply them to our everyday lives. Now it's time to focus on our families (great phrase Dr. Dobson!).

I don't want to talk about becoming that perfect Mom and wife who constantly has it all together and always puts her loved ones' interests and needs ahead of her own. That's unattainable. I simply want to look at showing them a little more each day how much I treasure them. The FABULOUS woman doesn't always achieve selflessness but she Absolutely Cherishes Her Family!

I may lose patience from time to time. I may be organizationally challenged. I may not have taken a shower in two days. But, I can shower love on my husband and daughter! Maybe it will start with making sure I say at least five kind things to Jeremy today. Things that aren't cleverly disguised requests.  Five truly encouraging compliments or observations offered with no strings attached. Maybe it will be taking time to play a game of Go Fish with my daughter or reading one more story before bed time, even after a long day.

Will I reach even these small goals every day? Of course not. Life doesn't work that way. And, I can be certain that I'll never reach these goals AND look great AND serve up a five-course meal AND maintain a clutter free home AND deliver one cunningly humorous zinger after the other ALL at the same time. In fact, some of these events may never occur at all. But, that's OK! My goal in life is not to be the woman on TV. It's not even to be ... you. My goal in life is to be the best me I can be for God. And, part of that is learning to love my family a little better with each new struggle...each new fight...each new challenge. Yes, sometimes it will require selflessness. But, mostly, it's just a matter of snuggling a little closer, laughing a little longer, and letting go of the small stuff a lot sooner!

OK, your turn. How are you learning to Absolutely Cherish Your Family? Your comments, as always, are greatly appreciated.

Have a FABULOUS night and may you get to love a little on your spouse and kiddos! LOVE!!!!!


  1. Wow - Jill that was exactly what I needed. I was having all of those same feelings last night and realized that I wasn't being kind to my family. Thanks for sharing!! Amy Orwig

  2. We all have been there dear Jill. I had a sister of mine share recently that life felt like a rut. For her every day was the same routine. I explained the cure to that way of thinking is when that routine gets interrupted.
    When my husband out of nowhere became ill with cancer all life as we knew it changed. I remember feeling guilty as I sat with him day in and day out. How much I missed the way life was before.
    I tried to keep him up, prayed with him,read devotional books and made it my mission to help him battle through as any wife would do.
    In the back of my mind along with the fears, I actually was wanting to run away some days.
    My husband came through, praise God,and our marriage became stronger, as well as the way I looked at life. I learned alot. Mostly that I once again can't control everything and should give up trying.
    As you spoke about family and mentioned Dr.Dobson, I read something he wrote that stuck with me Jill and will share it here.
    Ask yourself what you will care about when everything is on the line...
    Achievements and the promise of posthumous acclaim will bring some satisfaction, no doubt.
    But your highest priorities will be drawn from another source. When all is said and done and the books are closing on your life, I believe your treasures will lie much closer to home. Your most precious memories will focus on those you loved, those who loved you, and what you did together in the service of the Lord. Those are the basics. Nothing else will survive the scrutiny of time.
    I think you already know that Jill!
    For most of us hopefully it's learned sooner then later.
    I've decided if I'm striving to be "perfect" at any one thing, that it's going to be loving God and the family He has blessed me with for as long as I'm able.
    Thank- you once again Jill for sharing your struggles, So good to know we are all just "unperfect" women! lol. ;)