Why You Don’t Have to “Keep it all Together” and What to Do Instead
One of my deepest desires is to be known and to be real with the people around me. To live authentically and honestly. But that doesn’t happen naturally for me.
Instead, I hear, “Just keep it together! Or at least dress and talk and smile in a way that makes everyone think you have it together!” These are common voices around most of us, in most of us, and swirling through our culture of motherhood on most days. Such voices try to keep us from what we really want and what we were created for: authentic relationships.
I was speaking at a MOPS group recently, and a few young moms mentioned to me similar feelings. They had a genuine desire to be real with each other, but the intense pressure to appear like they had it all together served as a wall, keeping them from “being real” and enjoying mutually authentic relationships. The result of this “keep it all together” living?
A cycle of loneliness, comparison, discouragement, shallow relationships…on repeat.
We can continue trying to appear strong, capable, and independent, as though “we have it all together”…
or we can lay down our idols of image, and seek out authentic living in which we actually become who we were created to be…in the context of real relationships.
Being real means that we can be at rest with who we are and where we are and we are willing to walk one step at a time with people we love towards a better life.
So how do we get “real” with others and live free from the “keep it all together” plague?
1. Get real with God. We need to get honest and be our real selves before our real God. Start a heart-level conversation with Him when you are lying in the bed in the morning, and keep it going all day. Don’t confine it to your “prayer time” or to worship at church. Be real with God and allow Him into the big and little moments of your day, the pretty and put-together moments, and those that are not so pretty and put-together. If we can be honest with God and meet Him in a real way, we will get our biggest needs met in Him, and not be a drain on the people in our lives who are totally unable and ill-equipped to meet our deepest heart-needs.
2. Give yourself a break! Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to be perfect. The floor is covered in toys- that’s fine. Laundry is not folded- no sweat. You feed your kids cereal for dinner. They’ll live. Carol Kuykendall in her book, “Five-Star Families” says that in college she realized on some tests for some classes, a C+ works. She was used to going for all A’s, but there are times and seasons where a C+ works just fine!
3. Let someone into your real life. We should not let everyone into our “honest space” where we are most vulnerable, but we all need a few friends with whom we trust and live honestly. Take a risk with one or two friends and start small, but just start. Begin by being a good listener, and then ask your friends if you can share something real with them…just give it a shot! It’s likely that over time, you’ll both laugh and cry, and realize the freeing truth that no one has it all together.
We are all on this journey towards authentic and satisfying life and what we need is support and real love from each other. This sort of authentic living happens in the context of being honest- with God, ourselves and with the people in our lives.
So let’s get over this business of “keeping it all together” and get on with the business enjoying authentic relationships, knowing that NO ONE HAS IT ALL TOGETHER. Life is a process of becoming, not arriving, and it is an honor to walk in this process with you!
I’d love to hear from you on this, and be encouraged that I am are not alone in this journey…
Do you feel pressure to “keep it all together”? If so, in what ways? How do you combat this force of perfectionism? How have you developed authentic relationships in the midst of our ”keep it all together” culture?