There is a scene in Runaway Bride where the lead character, Maggie, is confronted with a hidden truth about herself. And the only way she discovered this is because the reporter, the antagonist at the time who later falls madly in love with the hot-mess, had her every move under the microscope. He wanted to find fault with her. He wanted her to be heartless and self-absorbed, but what he ended up finding out was that she was scared.
She was whoever the person in front of her wanted her to be.
If her man liked poached eggs, so did she.
If he liked them scrambled, so did she.
If he wanted to go hiking with alpacas in the Himalayas, she was already lacing up her ugly hiking shoes.
In the end, she walked down the aisle multiple times only to run because the person she was walking towards was in love the idea of her, the one who liked everything he liked.
She needed to give this reporter an angle, a really good story that would sell, but instead he gave her the story of a woman who needed to discover that whatever she liked would be good enough for the lucky guy who loved her.
Everyone has an opinion or viewpoint, a way of seeing people, and most of the time they barely scratch the surface of who a person really is. They filter through the lenses of their version of normal and who they are, not on who you are. Being the natural born people pleaser that I am, I completely, painfully identify with this story. I was the girl choking down really bad eggs because I thought I would make people happy. I had to learn not to let wrong opinions be right just because someone thought them and to have a little bit more faith and confidence in myself. I realized that I feel the most like “me” when I’m not under the microscope and loved just because.
I could love whatever jacked up version of eggs, and so could the person sitting across from me.
There is room and endless grace for all of us if we would be brave enough to extend it. Most of our microscope moments are self-inflicted, we are the ones with crazy, unattainable expectations.
Years ago my daughter would talk in a baby voice and I would say, “Speak with your big girl voice” because she clearly wasn’t a baby and I didn’t want her to get pummeled by mean kids at school and made fun of. In a moment where it was just the two of us, I had a revelation. I said, “Is the reason why you are talking like that because you want attention?”
She nodded and said, “Yes, the babies in this family get more attention.”
She was right.
One question changed everything and ended a problem. She needed attention and I had to teach her the right way to ask for it. She didn’t need to be anything other than herself. She was enough.
This holiday season has been extremely special, time with family that we miss so much. A time to focus on the baby who changed everything for us. Time to laugh and tell the same stories that we tell every year. Time to watch babies turn into pre-teens, a generation growing up right before your eyes. Time to see a few hairs turn annoyingly silver and then realize what a gift it is to be older and like the people we have become.
But, the holidays can be a little more stressful if the expectations are too high and your kid freaked all the way out and told every family member that they hated them. (Thank God this didn’t happen this year.) Or maybe you made the worst meal of your life and you are still waiting on ten gifts from Amazon that never arrived. Or maybe you said something that came out wrong, or worse, you passed gas during the meal and everyone heard it because it made the sound of a muffled trumpet. The horror. (This actually happened, but the men-folk find it funny when they do it, even if they are thirty-something.)
Our kids will act up. Our meals might get a little cold before everyone finally sits down for dinner. But, it’s okay just as long as we are with the people we love. Just a bunch of people liking different kinds of eggs and bringing flavor into a world that would be so dull and bland if we were all the same.
The Runaway Bride figured out what she liked, but most importantly, she stopped putting herself under the microscope. I think that’s the greatest gift that we could give to ourselves and our children, the gift of acceptance and wide-eyed wonder at the gift of being different. Fearfully and wonderfully made.
So, maybe relax a little. Take perfection off the table and enjoy the moments instead of measuring them unrealistically. Don’t replay the conversation where everything came out wrong and people think you need to up your meds. Don’t dwell on whatever went wrong, focus on all that went right. Let the dishes pile up and give the people in front of you the attention that they crave. Everything else can wait.