Dear Moms, It’s okay to be unremarkable.


I’m so glad I didn’t have the internet when my kids were little. The internet has become a measuring stick for young moms that constantly tells them that they aren’t measuring up. It hammers away at your soul, a photo, a click, a comment at a time.

I know that if the internet was available to me back then, I would have felt crushed under its weight, because the photoshopped images are just too much perfection to try to replicate.

I have a message for young moms, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart: You will never thrive in life if you try to be remarkable in every area of life. You’ll sink, because it’s too much weight to carry.

unremarkable

Don’t believe the lie of Pinterest– that every aspect of your life must be remarkable.

When I was a kid, the women around me were known for their “one really good thing.” It was like their little badge of honor, and we were all willing to ooh and ahh and revel in that one thing.

My great-grandmother was excellent at making Italian food. From the moment I stepped into her house, I was greeted with the smells of onions hanging overhead and garlic simmering in the pan.

My grandmother had a wonderful garden when we were young. We’d snap the beans off the poles and eat them. The smell of the grapes in her arbor transports me back to my childhood to this day. She was also known as our sleepover grandmother because we all begged to sleep there and play with her little puzzles, and drink hot cocoa and eat blueberry muffins.

That’s no longer the case in our digital age. We can’t just be really good at making fresh salsa or baking bread: we must grow our own organic food, have a house that is way out of our means and looks like it should be on the cover of a magazine, our teeth must be perfect, and clothes up to the minute. Our kids need to be ready for Yale at the age of seven and they must all be athletic, musical, and Mary Poppins-ish—practically perfect in every way.

It’s plastic, and fake, and crushing, to both the child and the mom.

I spoke with an iron-sharpening-iron friend this week about life. We spoke of heart ache and real life and the hurts that are inevitable in a very fallen world. We spoke of embracing obscurity in a world that promotes fame, and of doing the big things which turn out to be the little things after all. We spoke of pursuing faithfulness locally, especially when it’s unseen.

“The world tells us we need to be exceptional, when we really need to be faithful right where we are,” were her wise words.

Isn’t that what we all need to hear shouted from the rooftops?

Isn’t faithfulness in the little things, the local things, what really matters?

Where has God placed you? Look around you. Are you in a room full of little kids? Well, don’t despise this chance to be “missional” because this is where God has called you.

What does being missional in your home look like?

It looks like brushing and braiding your daughter’s hair and taking time to add the touches she wants.

It looks like being present right where you are, and making life “special” for those in your home, and not just for company.

And it looks a lot like faithfully tidying your home to make it pleasant for those who live under your roof, serving meals with loving touches to the people you love the most, and living a kind, quiet, peaceable life right where you are.

It means teaching those chubby cheeked kids about God.

It doesn’t matter what your facebook friends think about how great your vacation was or how nice your home is.

Our goal cannot be to impress others with our lives, but to imprint God’s ways of walking in love into our child’s heart.

I don’t know about you, but I want the people closest to me to love me, not because I can do anything for them, but because they’ve chosen to love me with all of my flaws and failings. And isn’t that what everyone wants in the end, to know that they are 100% loved by their people? The three tiered birthday cake does not necessarily speak love, even if all the other Pinterest moms are making it. Especially if you are irritated and frustrated trying to duplicate it. A simple chocolate sheet cake made with love and served with a smile will do the job better.

My youngest daughter is extremely perceptive. She has super thick hair like me and there have been many frustrating mornings where we try to get the snarls out of her hair. Many times there are tears because getting out the tangles hurts. It’s frustrating to both of us and it’s part of our morning routine that we both hate.  My little girl watches my facial responses as I pick up the brush to help her untangle. She watches to read me, to see if I think she’s a pain to need the help, or if I’m pleased to help her. I’ve made the conscious effort to smile and talk to her while we brush her hair because she’s at that awkward age where she’s trying to figure out how others perceive her, and if they like her. And If your own mother acts like you are a pain in the neck, what message does that imprint about their worth on their hearts?

Aren’t we all like little girls, trying to read our own worth in the faces of others? Isn’t this why we are so drawn in by this Pinterest stuff?

The truth is this: God loves you. He’s remarkable, so you don’t need to be. You’re already loved and accepted. You don’t need to seek for approval that you already have.

In a disconnected world, where people post to social media to impress people they barely know, and where we measure our motherhood and worth by glossy graphics and Pinterest collages, we’d all benefit by simply dwelling well within our own borders to thrive there.

If you are feeling a little unremarkable by the world’s standards this morning, that’s okay. We don’t need to be exceptional. We need to be faithful in our little tasks. God is God, and He put you where He wants you.

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

 

20 comments

  1. KimP says:

    This is SO good! And necessary. I struggle with spending too much time online trying to figure out the best way to mother when I need to go to the mothering, flaws and all :( I also struggle with how much to post on Facebook, not wanting to brag or impress, but mostly to share photos of my kids with out-of-state relatives and family. Maybe I should just create a family page or family group to do that so that it doesn’t come across as bragging. It’s always hard to tell what other people are going to take or glean from your posts…that’s how ambivalent social media can be. Thanks for this reminder. I may need a social media fast/break for a bit to evaluate how I’m using it. Love you and your heart Sarah! So thankful for your wisdom :)

    • Sarah Beals says:

      It’s such a black hole pulling you in. I agree about posting, too. You want to invite people into your life but at the same time, we’re all at such different places that it can be discouraging to see perfectly pressed children–a snapshot of a moment of someone else’s life–that haunts you as though this should be your life in it’s entirety. Thankful for you, Kim.

    • Lisa Asbell says:

      I hear you. That’s why I occasionally post my “fails.” A few weeks ago we were in a hurry to get to church, so I fed the kids cereal for dinner. Latter that night I posted a pic of the cereal, and said something like, “Lest you think my kids get a nutritious home cooked meal every night, here’s what I fed them tonight. . . .” It was one of the most well-received posts I’d put up in a while. If we were more real with each other, social media could be a place for encouragement instead of discouragement.

  2. Tim says:

    I love that line about god being remarkable so we don’t need to strive for it ourselves, Sarah.

    And on who we minister to, I figure I’m supposed to minister to the people who are around me. That doesn’t mean I can’t have a desire to minister elsewhere and move toward that, but in any given moment the place I’m called to minister in is the place I’m in in that moment.

  3. Sarah says:

    I didn’t even realize I needed to read this… Until I read it. :) Thank you so much for the post! God bless you!

    P.S. I think I’m ready for a Pinterest break.

  4. Laura says:

    Just found this while I was on pinterest looking for ideas to make my daughter’s preschool valentines. Because you know you can’t be the mom who doesn’t have some amazingly creative awesome valentine for a bunch of little ones who only want the treat anyway! Why do we do this to ourselves? So obviously I needed to read this. The time spent working on a valentine would be much better spent sowing into my daughter’s life instead.

    The comment about our children feeling more like a nuisance really hit me hard. I work from home and I often get frustrated at the constant interruptions and trying to fit it all in. I never want my daughter to feel like she’s just a pain to me. I need to do some reevaluating and change my attitudes about things. Thank you so much for your thoughts and words. :)

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  6. hxc4jesus says:

    Oh Sarah, I have raised my 8 children. I am now onto almost 21 grandchildren. I failed so many times. I wish I would have read this many years ago. I would not have felt like such a failure at times. My daughter post this on her FB. I will share on mine. What a wonderful ministry you have. Just to realize we are all human and like you said and Tim agreed. “God loves you. He’s remarkable, so you don’t need to be.”. I must say. I do have 8 remarkable children, all in their own way. And my heart swells when I see one of them following in my good footsteps of parenting. I don’t feel like such a failure anymore. Sarah, you are amazing, in the Lord. I see him all over you. Thank you.

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Aw, friend, I know how you feel. I can’t sleep some nights, feeling like I’ve failed my kids in so many ways. Thankfully, God uses very flawed parents to raise children, and all we can do is point them to our Remarkable God. I’m so thankful for your note. Grace and Peace to you and your family!

  7. Corinne says:

    Thank you so much! It is very true! It is hard to measure up to the standards of the world (which we can never achieve) but we were only called to live by God’s standards (which you so eloquently wrote).

    Ps. My daughter and I found if you braid the hair at night, it is less tangled in the morning

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Yes, thank you. We do braid the hair at night. We also use a detangling solution from a salon. :) Usually we have to get the hair thinned. :)

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  10. My Mom did not have internet,yet,she was the greatest Mom on earth. !!! She had the secret,she loved all seven of us kids, & if she had a favorite,she alone only knew it. I am sure we all thought it was them.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I love this. It is ok not to be remarkable at everything. So easy to say, so much harder to put into action! I need to remind myself every time I catch myself checking out the “mompetition”. I really don’t want my daughter to fall into this trap, so I love that you mentioned how observant out children are. They pick up on that kind of thing so quickly! Thank you for this, so well written and on point.

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