It was a beautiful moment, joy mixed with welcome, nostalgia mixed hope, love mixed with… more love.
I held a new life in my arms after a deep anticipation to do that very thing, to look into that tiny face, to behold that new-life smell, to breathe in the promise that a living being, still so pure, holds for us all.
And I almost let it get ruined by my own doubt, my own insecurity, my own need to feel needed.
For reasons that don’t really matter, some time shortly after that moment, I was crying to my husband. “Why am I never quite good enough? Why am I always second choice?”
He did what any good husband does, one who knows his wife better than anyone else, one which buttons are necessary, correct, or ok to push at any given time.
He laughed at me.
He said something like, “You are exactly where you want to be right now. Quit worrying.”
But I didn’t stop worrying.
Yesterday I sat in a Bible study based on the book The Search for Significance. I admit, when I first started reading the book, I was rolling my eyes a little, thinking, “I am already past this.” I worked through a lot of self-worth kind of junk in my early twenties, and then early in my marriage, and then again a few years ago. How many times do we need to rehash the same challenge? How much do you have to work through until it is finished?
My answer came when our Bible study leader asked us each a question based on being a perfectionist~
Does it keep you from trying or does it cause you to try harder?
I wasn’t sure how to answer this until the words began to come out of my mouth. Of course my perfectionism causes me to try. Trying is all I do. Some time in this very space I wrote about kicking down walls and building new ones and the exhaustion of doing that when it isn’t even necessary. Anyone who looks at my life can see that I am always trying to GO BIG OR GO HOME, for better or worse.
But what they don’t always see is how this affects the details of my life… how my attempts to make every detail and occasion and relationship “perfect” can be seemingly thwarted by the smallest words or actions or lack thereof, sending me into a tailspin of doubt, making me question whether my husband really thinks I’m all that, whether my kids will still love me when they don’t need me to pour their milk and turn on their movies, whether the work and passion I put into things the past few years was ever really noticed or if it was actually worth anything, whether it matters to anyone that I moved away, and whether there will ever be anyone here who wants my friendship as much as I want hers.
It sounds ridiculous. I know that. But it is where I’ve trained my mind to go.
Second born, second wife, second choice. I can make it all make sense in my head. I can focus so myopically on what I was not chosen for, when I am not a priority, that I push aside all the instances in which I am first. I am first to my husband, who would pretty much choose to live on a deserted but fully equipped island with me if given his choice (sorry kids :) But more importantly, God does not look at me as a second place at all:
God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! – Romans 8:16, The Message
If the God of the Universe thinks I am all that, what does it matter if I am chosen last for the softball team in fifth grade gym class or any thousand grown-up versions of the same thing?
It shouldn’t. It still does to me, but it shouldn’t. And I am working on that.
If you continue reading on in Romans 8, one of my very favorite passages of the Bible, there are a lot of promised to God’s kids. But there are a lot of responsibilities given to us as well~
We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! – Romans 8:17, The Message
We have to take our licks. We have to lose sometimes. We can’t get everything we want. We cannot achieve perfection. But this promise says we get to go through all of it – good and bad – with God. WITH Him. Just for a second, this second-born-syndrome girl is going to dwell on that. And I’m going to keep praying it gets etched in my heart and mind. I’m nothing but first place to my Father, and neither are you.