Most of the time I’m perfectly happy to be as transparent as I am online and in print. I have great days like the one last week when the mayor recognized me at a coffee shop and told me his wife loved my book and I returned home only to read an unexpected kind and supportive note from my neighbor.
But I also have days like yesterday, when what I have said in print and online comes back to bite me in a big way, hard enough to leave teeth marks. Not even 30 minutes after a well-intentioned but hurtful conversation with a friend, I received an email from a producer of one of those afternoon TV shows that showcases people’s pathetic lives, asking if I’d like to appear as an overwhelmed mom. Apparently when you Google “overwhelmed mom,” my photo and bio appear.
Now I realize I have made my bed.
I can fully appreciate why, after watching my “Me On a Bad Day” video, someone might think, “Eeesh. Do I really want to leave my daughter with her?” Or “There ain’t no way this one is serving on jury duty.”
So it’s on days like yesterday I want so badly to recall every copy of “Beyond Blue” that is in print, erase every blog post, and never ever disclose a personal shortcoming again on the thing that Al Gore created.
After plenty of tears and trying to retrain the persistent broken-record, “Can you blame them for thinking you’re unstable?” I went to Henri Nouwen, of course, where I always go for a reminder that God’s love is absolutely enough….
God loved me the day I almost crashed the car because my hands were shaking with anxiety. God will even love me if it happens again.
God was with me the afternoon I sat the kids down in front of the TV and hid in our bedroom closet until I could stop crying and be a responsible mother. And God will be with me if it happens again.
God is with me on the good days when I receive a wonderful honor for my work in the field of mental health. And God is with me when Google connects my name with “pathetic mom” or “white trash not to be trusted.”
God is with me and loves me regardless.
Moreover, if I claim my identity not as a mother or friend or writer or wife, but rather as a child of God, then neither blame nor praise will hold power over me.
Writes Henri Nouwen:
Once you have claimed [your true identity as a child of God] and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world.