you don’t have to be perfect to be content {or #ydhtbptbc}

There are a lot of unhappy women in the world.

{According to the culture, I’m probably not allowed to have that opinion . . . what with the fact I’m a woman and all. The good news is that my family has a deeply ingrained “Phooey to you” gene that runs rampant pretty much whenever it’s conducive to us. So, like, always.}

Check out Instagram. Read a few blogs. Peruse Facebook. They’re covered with women who are frustrated with how their house looks, panicking about how their children behave, worried about what they feed their family, anxious over being too busy, and to quote the King of Siam in “The King and I” . . .

Today’s woman wants an answer to all this distress, and to quote an LCMS gal, murky theology has taught her to assume that the answer to this self-imposed chaos is “to live ‘a purposeful life,’ one that is ‘authentic’ and ‘fully integrated with her faith and family.'”

“An intentional life, huh?” said gal continues. ” I’m pretty sure a woman intentionally gets up and showers, feeds her family, cares for them, goes to church, cleans her home, supports her husband. I’d say that’s a pretty good life. What’s unintentional about that? What about that isn’t full of purpose? I’d say she has a pretty big purpose and a lot of people depending on her to care for them. If that’s what her day looks like is she somehow being fake and unauthentic? I’m so confused.”

Get it, girl.

It’s an odd in-balance. On the one hand, we women all want vacuum lines in our carpet and tidy children with perky pigtails. On the other, we know full well that the sink is full of dishes and that the dust needs to be, well, dusted.

What are we to do? Clean the dishes and discipline our kids, or panic and freak out?

And so we have two options, two routes to take when getting all verklempt with the pictures on Instagram of carefully groomed dogs laying calmly on white rugs in front of roaring fireplaces while little ones cheerfully play checkers nearby.

I don’t have a fireplace or checkers. What I do have is house that smells like drying cow horn peppers, an odor that pretty much singes your nose hairs.

We can either:

  • Glom onto the evangelical Instagram #idhtbptbb (it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful) to try to make sense of our fears and insecurities while simultaneously slamming “your bravery wins a thousand battles you can’t see because your bravery fuels a 1000 others to win their battles too” printables up on every free space on our walls. (Who’s kidding who here? Bravery? I threw an embroidery pattern across the room the other night when I couldn’t figure out how to make a French knot. Pretty sure there is nothing remotely brave about THAT.)
  • Repent.

{I’m advocating for the second option, just in case anyone’s wondering.}

We can repent: for not being content, for worrying, for panicking, for doubting, for thinking we can have it all when we can’t, for coveting, for being lazy, for convincing ourselves that everything would be better if our Lord would just reveal His will for our lives to us {He has, btw. It’s the Ten Commandments.}.

You want purposeful? Well, sorry. There’s no purpose to this picture.

We are already living purposeful lives. We are already authentic. We are already fully integrated with our faith and family. But not in the way that gooshy theology claims.

We have purpose only because of Christ. We have value because when God sees us, He sees a watery cross on our foreheads and on our hearts, marking us as His children.

We are already authentic because our Lord is at work through our vocations of sister, mother, wife, serving those around us: wiping drippy noses, serving slightly burned corners of lasagna to our friends, praying for our pastor.

We are already fully integrated with our faith and our family because that is simply how we live as Lutherans. We are who are because of our Baptism, because God desires to give blessings to us and to our families, because we are in the Divine Service, because our pastors delight to pronounce Christ’s forgiveness on and to us.

Our houses can be relatively clean even as our dishes can go undone for an hour to spend time with our sisters. Our children can be well behaved, even if we are freaking out that the dinner guests are arriving and we forgot to clean the bathroom. Our friends can sympathize when our husbands have to work late, and our moms can remind us that we’re not the first ones whose green pepper plants refuse to produce even one LOUSY TINY PEPPER.

Ahem. Not that I would know about that.

Let’s repent: of our belief that we can do it all and our lack of will to even try, of our grasping for purpose when God has already given it to us and our laziness in believing He means what He says.

And then let’s pray, asking for God’s grace, not to be perfect and beautiful and brave, but to be His baptized children, “content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5).

Or should I say . . . #iwnlynfy

Now that’s more like it.

My calzones are proof that #idhtbptbb but they did make my husband laugh. Does that count?




14 thoughts on “you don’t have to be perfect to be content {or #ydhtbptbc}

  1. Heard you on issues etc. today and I had to read your blog. Your remark on the radio about the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and Ma Ingalls really struck a chord with me (maybe because I was named after Laura Ingalls Wilder). Thank you for reminding us what it is to be content as a Baptized child of God.

  2. THANK YOU FOR BEING LUTHERAN. I’m not trying to yell at you, but it’s just bursting out of me with such gusto I can’t keep it in small letters. If I could even think through things half as clearly as you write them I might attempt to expound upon what I mean. For now, you’ll just have to take it as it is. THANK YOU FOR BEING LUTHERAN.

    p.s. If someone were to ask me, “If you could spend the day with one celebrity, who would it be?” I would surely say, Adriane Heins… I toyed with the idea of hiding my fandom in this post, but, as you can see, I then convinced myself otherwise.

    1. Thank you for being Lutheran too! (I won’t do caps. I’ll just yell at you with exclamation points.) Isn’t it the best?

      And as for spending a day hanging out, maybe coffee over Skype would be almost as good? 🙂

  3. Your photo’s purpose was to make me smile. Do I see Anne of Green Gables and the Essential Lutheran Library? I also enjoyed seeing two confirmation bibles. (I used that edition during my confirmation years.) My husband and I can’t bring ourselves to get rid of our doubles either.
    I found your blog today while I was looking into House of Living Stones. I’m thrilled that CPH will enter the fiction market! I devour Christian Fiction as easily as chocolate, but often times the theology and content leave me feeling blah. I’m so thankful for this alternative! Let’s pray that more follow.
    One more thing… I’m a faithful reader of the Lutheran Witness. I loved the story in the Lutheran Women’s Quarterly telling about how you first got the job, about your background, and how you met your husband. I admire you and am so blessed by your work. Glory be to God!

    1. You DO see Anne of Green Gables! I can tell we’re kindred spirits already.

      And thank you for reading LW. It makes my day to know that you find it faithful and edifying.

  4. French knots make me want to throw things too:-) Needed this big time. We must follow all the same people on IG. Some of your descriptions were pretty spot on;-)

  5. A) “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” In other words, we have Him. We have Jesus. “Be content with what you have.” In other words, be content with Him.

    B) Around here, peppers seem to do MUCH better after some cool nights. They really start flowering after the nights are cool for a while and then warm up. This would have been THE year to grow peppers in Wisconsin, and I didn’t. (Oops.) I don’t know if it’s different down south.

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