Thursday, September 18, 2008

Perfectly Trying

I have decided to address a subject some of us loathe, some of us cringe away from, and some of us just wonder about. I was visiting with some friends and we were chatting about our busy lives, housework, kids, chaos, etc. The usual. Then, one of them said, while looking down at her toddler who was trying to crawl up her leg, using her pants as a tow rope, "Could you please just tell us something about yourself that makes you seem less perfect?"
I paused, not sure who she was talking to. The other woman looked at me and agreed. "Yes, Krista, please."
"Are you talking to me?!"
They acknowledged that they were. I looked at them both, then burst out laughing. I asked them what would make them say that. Their answers included, as they wrestled their children, observations that my house was always clean (I snorted), and beautiful (comfortable), I was slender (so?). I stopped them.
"Do you want to come over to my house right now?! The sink is full of dishes. I am so tired at the end of the day, I seldom do dishes after dinner. I do them in the morning, or even later. And, for some reason, I noticed there are blankets all over the house, in little mounds all over. I am 3 days behind in laundry because I have been reading. Sometimes, most times, after getting after my kids about something, I realize that there is no way I would talk to them like that if other people were in the house. Not even my Mom. And I bet you about 80% of my home decor is hand-me-downs from my Mom and sister, which, don't get me wrong, I love..."
Mentally, I was making an even longer list (prideful, easily distracted, hard-headed, too shy, a dependency on Twizzlers). But, by the time I got to this point, I could see that they were calmed down a bit. So, I got deeper.

I shared that I live in almost constant pain, a result from a car crash and back injury years ago. I admitted that sometimes I get so frustrated with the pain that I cry, and wonder why I still have to suffer. I told them that my marriage is strong, and wonderful, but that hasn't always been the case. I reminded them that I had lost a child, a baby girl who only lived a couple of hours and died in our arms. So, no, I wasn't perfect. I told them that going through these things, these very imperfect trials made me realize how strong I am, much stronger than I had believed, and maybe that was what they sensed from me. They listened.

Comparing ourselves to other women, as easy as it is, is so wrong. It hurts us to do that. We don't know what others have been through, and everyone lives a life, full of all kinds of struggles and imperfections. No matter what we look like, or appear to be. I read something once, and I don't know who said it, but the meaning was this: Perfection is not an end; it is a journey... it is not a noun; it is a verb... it is not a result; it is a process.

Shannon, my friend who had approached the subject in the first place, is a mother of 6 children under the age of 10. Her husband is a doctor and works long hours and is on call often. Her home is peaceful and welcoming when I have visited. She ran a half-marathon this spring. I had recently told my mom, who was asking about my friends who gave me a birthday lunch, that Shannon was one of the most beautiful women I know. She bakes.

Karma moved here not too long ago, and immediately made a place for herself in our circle. She is open and honest, and has no trouble expressing her thoughts, questions, and concerns. She cares deeply about her family and it shows. She is just eager to learn and share and doesn't hold back. She is going to have a baby in a few months, her 4th, and is just letting herself get excited because she has lost one, too. I enjoy her contributions to our discussions in book club, and love that she looks you right in the eyes when she is talking to you. Every time I talk to her, I feel I know her better.

I know so many beautiful women who are just trying. We are so hard on ourselves. I think if we saw in ourselves, what other people see, we wouldn't compare so much. And if we knew what those other women are going through, we would thank heaven for our own short-comings. It is a lesson I am still learning. In all my imperfection.


bobbi said...

Thanks, Krista. I have the best friends here in Cody and you are one of them!! Something I needed to hear and remember-- thanks again!

jill said...

Wow...well said. I too find myself admiring others at the expense of myself. I think we just notice the things we know we could be doing. It is uncomfortable, I'm sure, to get those kind of "compliments" without feeling bad about the things you have accomplished. Feel great, Kristi!! Like you said, you've been through a lot, gained strength, been able to influence others in a positive way, and also are aware there is so much to improve upon....I'd say you are in a great position. (Take the compliment!)

Shelli said...

Amen to all of it. Thanks for the reminder, I think everyone should read this post. Love you!!!

Jessica said...

So true. You inspire me. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Amen. I wish more of us would share our imperfections with each other. I think that's one of the reasons I have resisted posting a blog. You inspired me. Thanks, cousin!

Gramma Spice said...

Beautiful, wise words from your big heart and your very thoughtful soul. I love you, sweetie!

Anonymous said...

Although I think your overall message is true...not all women are able to voice their feelings. At one point in my life I felt the way you do, and was open and communicated with other women about my trials, and the pain that I went through when we watched our baby die in our arms. I guess after years of being hurt by women who called me their friend put a bad taste in my mouth because I was not part of their circle.
I do think it is very important that we remember not to compare ourselves to one another, because noone is perfect, and if we assume that, then we are very wrong indead.

SherBear said...

Wow, Krista, thank you - you are so articulate. I was very moved by this post. It's so true. I don't experience nearly as much, being in a singles ward for the past...20 years. I guess that's because most of the "over-achievers" (as I affectionately call them) get married.
Marriage provides all those trials that help you improve and file off those rough edges. May we all be blessed with that opportunity to love, suffer, and grow! :)
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

Team Pettijohn said...

Sooo true...why do women compare themselves to others. We never really know what goes on behind closed doors and it's so important not to judge or compare. Thanks for the reminder. I can't believe you've gone through all of that... I had no idea. You're an amazing person Kristi! I also wanted to tell you that I love your recipe sight. I've passed it on to Terri who has struggled with MSG as well.

Mercer Family said...

Thanks for the wonderful reminders. I admire you so much and so I understand why your friends asked you that key question! Comparing is so easy to do and so harmful if we dwell on it. Thanks for reminding us that we are all human, and we all have wonderful traits! I needed to read this today!