You had to be faster when you ran along the playground fence when you were six-almost-seven. You had to be thin and lanky like some of the girls are at eleven but then again, some aren’t. You had to be more giggly, more outgoing, smarter, dumber, taller, cuter, more.of.everything we think it means to be female.
Somewhere, someone along the way made you feel like you didn’t measure up.
And when you were on your way to college or somewhere beyond you felt like you had to FIND HIM NOW and if you didn’t you’d be left behind. You felt like you should just stay with what you are sort of good at and not take risks. Because if you did, you would surely be embarrassed or lonely. So you played it safe with everything, carefully measuring out love and affection and creating friendships that are good and right, but very, very safe.
Measuring up is something that you wondered about every day.
Then there is a baby. A tiny thing in your arms in and a giant in your heart and now there is one more thing in which you don’t measure well. You are selfish for wanting a nap, you are a failure for not being able to “cope” and you are always behind in everything you used to be amazing at. Nothing is amazing any longer, in fact, except for her smiling face, everything is just dull.
And you feel more and more like you don’t measure up to the other mothers who tote their babies around under one arm and their computer under the other. They do it all so well, you think.
You are convinced by now, that you will never measure up.
And then there is soccer and ballet and activities and everything that makes you feel so much less-than as a mother and even as a woman. What if I don’t give them all that they can have? What if I fail, even in this?
You look at your husband at nine pm and think oh I really should have sex tonight but I am the most tired I have ever been. Tomorrow night, honey. Is that okay? And he’s fine with it on the outside but on the inside is he disappointed? Does he wonder if he got the wrong-girl? And then you are sure that other couples are doing it most nights and even in this, you aren’t anything like you hoped you would have been.
You tell yourself when you look at post-baby thighs in the mirror, when you look at the greys coming in (oh they are coming in faster now, like lightening it seems) and when you look at face in profile (do I still pass for under thirty?).
You tell yourself this every day.
Someone will always be better, younger, more beautiful, have it more together, more sexy, more patient, and everything-we-think-it-means-to-be-female than you. Someone will always measure better than you, so why even try?
Maybe because you know in the back of your heart that there is something good and desirable about you. That you are worth knowing.
Even so you need to prove to other women and to yourself that you are something good. And so you do all kinds of crazy things to prove this: you gossip and you hide, you lie sometimes (just a little fib) and you even let others drag you into things you should never be a part of in the first place. You dress up and you cut your hair and you dye your heart the colors of other people’s hearts. You wear clothes that do not fit you, neither in size nor in personality.
All because you want to measure up.
But here is what is true: you have measured up all along. You have been desirable all along. You have been beautiful and smart all along.
Even from the first race on the playground when the other girl beat you you measured yourself up against someone else. SomeTHING else. And all along you were measuring yourself up against the wrong thing.
The only thing worthy of measuring ourselves against, measuring our height and our beauty and the way our jeans fit, measuring our goodness or our excellence is against the love of God. And His love in us.
Everything else is a lie.
Measuring is a fallacy. Proving ourselves to other women has no benefit. Maybe we can be the ones to begin telling ourselves and our daughters to stop trying to measure up to what the world tells us we need to be.
And in that love (that gracing-love) there is no proving, there is no moving faster or further and there is no urgency. There is simply Him and you and what is right.