Are we supposed to have it all together?

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I recently had a conversation with one of my close family members where they were confiding in me about a very personal matter. They said “I never thought I would be going through all of this at this age in my life.” That really struck a chord with me. We all have some “life measurement meter” where we have certain goals and happiness levels that should be reached at different stages of life; yet it seems we all miss the mark. We even seem to even judge people from the lens of this invisible life meter; “He should have his own place by now” or “She should have graduated college by now” or “When are they having a child already.”

I’ve gone through this my whole life. In school I grew up believing I had to get good grades to become a doctor. In college it was the pressure to juggle different leadership roles so I could get a good job. After college it was find the right man so I could good married. I failed at many of these so-called requirements at every age of my life. It wasn’t until this past year that I came to the conclusion that many of these pressures were because I was bound to pleasing people. I always wanted to keep up an image, I loved being the gold standard. And while these things sounded great in my head, life had not been so neat and perfect to me. I struggled at every age to keep up with invisible measurements and create false images of myself.

In our day in age we also contend with social media, which gives us a barrage of happy endings for every age. We run to our phones the first thing in the morning filling our hearts with ideas of perfection and measure our lives against one another. Yet, there are no pictures of people falling apart on their bathroom floor after a breakup; no one shows pictures of the sonogram for the baby they miscarried; and no one snaps a shot of a letter from work stating they are now terminated. We subconsciously believe that life is a highlight reel of happy vacations, delicious coffee, perfect salads and well put together outfits. When the reality is so far from that. We contend with these images all day and they isolate us and make us believe that our challenges are unique and that we should be much further than we are because look how perfect Instagram lives are.

I broke free from this people pleasing life measurement prison by finally understanding that God does not require all of the accomplishments I needed to validate my life. God required far less. I began to learn that He is not looking at our lives and marking off checks where accomplishments should be. He in fact uses us better when we let go of our measurements and simply follow Him. “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.”-Luke 17:33.

I wrapped up the conversation with my family member by debunking the life measurement meter lie. I told them that at every age and stage there will be challenges and most of us will never have it all completely together all at the same time. And if by some freak chance it does work out all at the same time it usually isn’t lasting. It is the collection of dark moments, joys, challenges, fights and victories that shape us into the people who we will be. And it is in surrendering our will and following God’s that we actually move toward success. So unplug from the highlight reel for a moment and see it for what it is. Let go of the false expectations and embrace the messiness that comes with living. Learn to be okay with not always being okay.