We've been talking about cognitive distortions this month, and so with that, I thought I'd share one of my big ones with you, because sharing is caring, right?
I'm all about being honest here. If you've read any of my previous posts, you probably know I've got some issues and distortions myself. I mostly try to deal with them with humor and a little dignity, mostly. Though some days "dignity" would be a stretch to describe how I react to things but that's okay, it only reinforces the fact that I'm still a human and not an alien.
But back to point: since we're being real, I've got to tell you that yes, I have my own very own made-up cognitive distortion: I suffer with what I've named Perspective Distortion.
I know. Like there are not enough issues I already have to deal with myself, I decide to create new ones, because I'm just fun like that.
Maybe you're a fellow sufferer – if you're anything like me or suffer from this insufferable, extremely annoying disease, the first indication of an infection is the audible oohs and ahhs over everyone's vacation pictures and their other life adventures on Facebook. Because well, that was the life you intended on living before you got sidetracked with real life, the ever-growing stack of dishes, the kids' performances, and those constant piles of laundry that are really your kryponite if you're being completely honest with yourself.
You'll also notice yourself longing, lusting even, for the kind of life those pinners on Pinterest have – the ones who make back to school crafts and totally organic homemade lunches for their kids; the ones who pin renovation projects gone the right instead of the way, way wrong way you're all too familiar with. You'll wonder how on earth anyone has found the time to coordinate all their kids' outfits for a picture, much less get them to behave, look at the camera AND smile. That is a feat not lost on you; makes you wonder where all those moms hide their super hero capes.
And then you'll wonder why your life looks so dull, so worn and frayed around the edges. Like a wood floor that is in desperate need of a really good polish. You'll wonder why your life just doesn't shine like theirs seem to. You may even, if you've got a severe case like me, wonder how on earth you can compete, knowing logically of course you can't, but emotionally not able to quite dismiss the feeling of such insecurity and I don't Measure Up-ness (yep, it's a word now) on a daily basis.
You may even give up your Facebook and Pinterest accounts. And while this is a noble feat, it isn't one that's entirely sustainable, in the sense that an alcoholic still has to live in a world with cocktails, you'll still have to live in a world of pictures of pristinely dressed children and crafts so beautiful they make you cry.
But hey, just a reminder: this isn't true, this isn't real life. It's the stage view of someone else's life, and we're living ours behind the scenes, behind the thin, frayed velvet curtain where we know the kids are smiling because of threats of no candy or video games EVER AGAIN, because that's what you had to do to get a decent picture with everyone smiling. Even though it's obvious that they are clearly forced smiles.
You and I live in a place where the best outfits and other things in life are held just barely together by gossamer strands of safety pins, paperclips and knitted tightly with prayer. There is a whole lot of life within those imperfect moments, the ones that are so gritty and real and raw we hesitate to capture them on film, much less share it on a social network.
The only thing – the only thing – that I’ve found as the cure for all this, what saves me from crafting while taking the Lord's name in vain and cleaning all night like a mad, mad woman, is God. The reminder that not only does He love us, but He made us, and He made us all in a very specific way.
So for example, while I may be a decent writer, I'm certainly not going to win the award for most kept-up house or crafting skills. My crafting skills involve a long, continuous line of expletives and grumpiness when things aren't adhering together just so, and I'm real sure that at the end of the day that's certainly not what honors God.
But that's okay. I'm not meant to paint clothespins or wield a glue gun, that's abundantly clear. Maybe you are, and if that's your thing, and that's wonderful. Truly.
Where we get lost in the perspective dysfunction is that we think our lives have to line up in some way, like we are all runners on the same track, and it's a matter of who finishes in what place. Like we are all the same, or even on the same track. News flash here: we aren't. We know this, but sometimes we need a reminder that God has each of us on our very own path, and it's going to come with a different, more scenic view of life than someone else's.
But as the janitor in your own life, the backstage custodian – sure, you’ll see the messes and the mayhem, but you'll also see the beautiful glory in the details. The way the floor indeed radiates on its own, shortly before a cleaning. You'll notice the way that the sun hits the windows and bathes everything in golden light and how that changes your perception of the worth of windows. And you will smile a private smile, as everyone else has missed this and gone home. It's your own private joy, this gapingly imperfect life.
And one day when you and I are a little more mature, advanced and trusting in this life and in God, you and I will smile in the quiet moments, grateful for this life where the seams don't completely line up. We'll be at peace with that, knowing deeply that our lives in actuality, are really quite wonderful. And you and I will bow down in silent, grateful prayers, thankful for finally realizing the proper perspective on life after all. With or without immaculately dressed children.