Attainable Expectations for the Affirmation Junkie

I’m a bit of an affirmation junkie. I like making cool things and I like it even more when I like how they look when I’m finished…and when others tell me they like them too. It’s not a big leap to realize that I like when people like me and when they like the things that I do.

I struggled to keep good (really good!) grades and made it through a tough program. I married a great guy and strive to be a good wife and mom to all the kids God has given us. I’ve always taken pride in making things…including special gifts by hand, the best I could do to show my love for others.

Assisi stair

It actually seems pretty straight forward that I’m still trying to earn the Father’s Love, even though I’m supposed to know I already have It. My strategy is to earn His Love by good behavior, checking off my to do list, making Catholic Faith filled stuff to try to win others over, raising good kids and hoping they’re some sort of credit to my husband and me. I’m quietly nervous that there will be some loop hole, something I’ve overlooked; not quite passing the test, hoping to scrape into purgatory on my scrambling efforts.

 

Plagued by comparisons all my life, I continue to pursue some impossible expectations based on my skewed perception of values and abilities of others: other Catholic bloggers, other moms, other women. You see, I give others plenty benefit of doubt. I often set them up on the most favorable pedestal and park myself somewhere in the shadows they cast.

Monica

There is little mercy or wiggle room in the expectations I have for myself. My little victories sometimes have limited life while my stumbles or face palms taunt me forever. Assuming the disadvantage, I’m just not ever going to be more like those I compare myself to.

I need to make peace with the person God created me to be.

 

Discouragement comes easily when expectations seem unattainable.

Just like on that bus in Rome, the Lord answered a question rolling around forever in my heart. I didn’t even realize I was asking the question or how much I needed to hear the answer, but more articulately put than I could express…the words formed the realization while I prayed before Mass. I almost said it out loud…in surprise:

‘like hey!…. “You don’t have impossible expectations for me!” ‘

It wasn’t a booming voice or even a directive in the first person. Maybe it’s not profound to you…but it kind of is…to me. It was like the answer was formed in my head (and my heart) to answer the question I hadn’t really asked. The realization that His expectations for me are not unattainable, but actually within my reach…is profound for me in the face of my life-ful of comparisons and expectations I burden myself with. But they are my expectations, burned out of pride and they don’t take into account His Mercy.

saints mosaic

It’s not lowered expectations or compromised standards. They’re still ambitious expectations for a Child of God.

  • They’re realistic…because they’re real. He sees the real me better than I can and He loves me completely.
  • They’re informed expectations because He knows me…better than I do.
  • They’re affirming expectations because they give me hope.

The Lord knows me and all my quirks and fragments; faults, weaknesses and failings. He doesn’t put unrealistic aspirations in my head to frustrate me.

He isn’t even frustrated by my state in the spiritual life.

  •  I haven’t disappointed him, progressing too slowly.
  • I haven’t scandalized Him with my repeated struggles and sins.
  • He knows the good that I’m capable of and while the choices I make surely impact my path, He refuses to jeopardize my free will.
  • He knows where I fit and He has the time to let me figure it out.

All I need to do is to remember to call out to Him, rely on Him…and my perseverance in that struggle is what endears me to Him.

Judgment

 

He wants me to succeed…in holiness. Most importantly, He wants me up there someday in Heaven with Him and He knows just what it takes….and more specifically….what I need to do, to be, to get there. He knows my disposition, my heart’s intentions and even my doubts and He still has confidence in me.

 

Heaven isn’t this unattainable carrot designed to keep me busy, or frustrate me as I narrowly miss the gate on some technicality.

St Francis and Jesus

 

 

 

His Mercy…and His Love for me…

are unconditional and inexhaustible,

as He perpetually holds out His Hand

to lift me up.

 

 

 

These more reflective posts are a bit of a leap for me, given the crafts and family fun type of posts I usually write on this site.

Your affirming comments go a long way…I’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

Linking up to #worthrevisit at Reconciled to You

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Monica, this is an amazing piece of writing. You are an inspiration!!!

  2. This is a wonderful post! I bet soooo many women will be able to relate to it – I know I did. I have been battling this type of thinking for years. For so long it was an “earn your place” mentality for me versus a “learn your place” mentality (which accepts that I already have a place in the heart of God and I am growing into that spot he has prepared for me in heaven). The first always caused me anxiety to no end while the second is more knowing that I am a person that has a place in an interlocking puzzle of epic proportions. Namely, the Body of Christ. It’s very affirmative and more important, it’s true. God has a place for each of us!

  3. I’m with you on this one for sure. It’s like I try, and try, and keep trying to do what God wants me to do and hope that I’m reading His signs correctly. I want to be the best wife and mother that I can be and, boy, do I fall short way too many times. It’s this human nature of mine that keeps me under when I know that God just keeps picking me up. So I continue on with following God’s calling for me. And it is definitely wonderful to hear that you struggle because I know that we can all struggle together to achieve heaven one day.

  4. Monica, I LOVED this post! We are so similar…and reading this gives me such peace. So happy to have you as a friend – you are amazing!

  5. Feel free to reflect more often. I sooooooo struggle with this. I have a sneaking suspicion its chronic in our society and especially any women who came of age in the late 70s and on. Thank you for sharing. I love the realization too- one that I need to seek and find!

    • Thanks, Marlon! It’s so affirming to know that others struggle with the same things…we just don’t talk about it much and it’s pretty scary to put it out there!

  6. Louise McCarthy says:

    o my gosh Monica! You are so not alone in this way of thinking! Im so grateful you shared this. I am going to read it again!!

    Thank you!!

    Louise (see you Monday)

  7. Thanks for this: “Heaven isn’t this unattainable carrot designed to keep me busy, or frustrate me as I narrowly miss the gate on some technicality.”

  8. Wow! That all sounds like me! I don’t want to need affirmation, yet I know I do seek it. I set my expectations so high, I can’t possibly achieve them (at least not in my own power)! I always feel like I can still improve upon things rather than simply thanking God for the results of my efforts.

    Thanks for going out of your comfort zone and sharing this. I admire the ways you allow God to use you to help build the kingdom!

Speak Your Mind

*

SUBSCRIBE for FREE Catholic Crafts and Family Traditions!