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On Feeling Defensive

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On Feeling Defensive and how expectations can ruin your life... @ AVirtuousWoman.org #ATimeToClean

A Time to Clean: Day 11

You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.

Some days are just hard. 

Like that statement came as a surprise! It’s true. Life can be overwhelmingly hard sometimes. You have those days when just nothing goes right. You don’t sleep well. Your husband hurts your feelings and an argument ensues. Your kids don’t want to do their chores or their homework. You burn supper. And the dirty dishes seemed to grow on their own in the sink. And to top it all off, the dog puked on the carpet – late at night and you stepped in it.

Okay, so maybe your days are never quite that bad… but maybe you can relate. Let’s back up to the part where you argued with your husband over something really stupid. All because you felt defensive about what he said. Maybe he said, “It’d be great if you could get the kids to actually do something around here. This place is a mess!”

And immediately you felt attacked. Even though, maybe he didn’t mean it the way you took it. Or maybe he meant it the way you took it, but really, he has no idea what kind of day you had! Because surely if he could have an ounce of empathy he would understand and see things your way.

When shame, past hurts, and emotional issues are all playing a heavy role in your life, it’s super easy to get your feelings hurt when your husband mentions anything negative about anything.

Because truly, if you could be perfect you would be. 

Perfectionism

I would love to be perfect. Wouldn’t that be great? I mean, if I was perfect, my house would be perfect, too, right?

Yes.

Remember how we talked about how expectations can ruin your life? This is such a profound truth so pay attention. When expectations and reality collide, what’s left in it’s wake can be pretty ugly. Life isn’t perfect, and when we allow our idealist expectations to dictate our joy, we are allowing a form of perfectionism to invade our hearts.

I had never considered myself to be a perfectionist. One look at my nightstand {on most days} and you’d realize that. Compared to my husband’s spotless nightstand… yeah. Most days I wonder why I can’t just “get my act together.”

But the truth is, I still have this idea in my mind of what my dream life should look like… and messy nightstands, piles of dirty dishes, and  mountains of dirty laundry just really don’t find a place in my dream. Not only that, but in my dream life, everything about my life would be all rosy and happy all the time. No one would ever have a bad day. Like ever. We’d all talk in pleasant tones with laughter and smiles all day long. The dog would never ever tear things up. My bathrooms would never be dirty. Ever.

Yes, it would be nice, don’t you think?

That’s not real life, y’all.

Beauty in the Mess

Where’s the beauty in the mess? Is there beauty in the mess? 

There is beauty in the struggle. There is beauty in the pain. There is beauty in raw humanity. It’s the struggle that gives us a reason to depend wholeheartedly on Christ. Perhaps it’s not the beauty we would have chosen, but this life has a beauty all of it’s own.

Sort of like when Mykal and I first got married and we moved from Georgia out to the Mojave Desert in Arizona. I lived in this little house with tumbleweeds and dirt for a front yard and a view of the Dead Mountains. Coming from the green beauty of the East, the desert with it’s scorching, hot days, little rain, and lots of dust wasn’t really part of what I had expected in this life. It wasn’t my first choice. In fact moving there wasn’t my choice. I cried when we pulled off the highway and onto that little dirt road looking for the house I had not even seen a picture of.

Happy Valley Road. 

I could have chosen to be miserable. I could have chosen to dig in my heels and tell God exactly what I thought about His plans. And I certainly thought about it! But the truth is, those two years were some of the happiest years of my life… living on Happy Valley Road. I learned to love the beauty I found there even if it was different from what I had planned.

[Tweet “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be amazing. #ATimeToClean”]

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be amazing. One moment of one day – or one day of one week – or one week of one month… one year… doesn’t have to mean you’re life is a total mess. You can choose to be happy anyway.

On Feeling Defensive and how expectations can ruin your life... @ AVirtuousWoman.org #ATimeToClean

On Being Defensive

It’s easy when we look at ourselves as wretched, imperfect people to assume that everyone else looks at us the same way. It’s easy to assume your husband thinks your ugly, fat, a screw up, or messy when that’s how you see yourself. You see, expectations can be good or bad. We can expect the worst. We can expect the best. We expect others to see us the same way we see ourselves. And when all we see when we look in the mirror is shame, that’s what we expect others to see too.

It all boils down to shame. Shame is a tool Satan uses to keep up chained to the pain of the past. And it can ruin marriages. It can ruin your life if you don’t learn to forgive yourself. When you feel unlovable, you find it hard to believe that anyone could really love the real you. And so you put up your defenses because you don’t want to be hurt any more.

But it still hurts. 

[Tweet “It’s time to give all of the pain and shame and disappointment and discouragement and mess to God. “]

It’s time to give all of the hurt and pain and shame and disappointment and discouragement and mess to God. Because He doesn’t want you to feel defensive. He wants you to feel whole. He wants you to be okay – not with your sin – but with yourself. He wants you to love yourself enough to let others love you, too. He wants you to love yourself enough to not feel shame every time the house gets a little cluttered or chaotic. Real people have bad days. One bad day doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you had a bad day.

And that’s okay.

Today’s Goal

  • Think about your expectations. Are your expectations – good or bad – stealing your joy?
  • Pray about making hard decisions – about what things you should keep, preserve, or let go.
  • Pick up a journal and write down your thoughts about what He has shown you or print my free prayer journal.
  • Choose an area in your home you want to tackle. I’ll be working in my living and dining rooms today.
  • Fill at least one bag or box full of stuff to give away. You can donate to our Appalachian Community Center if you’d like.
  • Take a picture of your bag. Share it on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram – use hashtag #atimetoclean {optional}
  • Leave a comment below about what you chose to get rid of and anything else God has laid on your heart.
  • Do your best to wake up early tomorrow and spend time in prayer. Use your prayer journal. I’ll be waking up around 6:00 am.

How are your expectations impacting your life right now?

P.S. Today is my 39th birthday! My 30’s have been the best time of my life. Really, truly.

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19 Comments

  1. Happy Happy Birthday Melissa....enjoy the day it is your day let everyone else wait on you...God has great plans for you....you are a true inspiration to all you come in contact with....God Bless....Marlene
    1. Thank you, Marlene! We're actually at the ice rink all day today... And this morning I took the girls shopping for new outfits and hair stuff for their recitals coming up. It's been a good day! :)
  2. Happy Birthday...Your post was so right on. Its amazing how God sends just what you need. Also wanted to add that I love new colors and font on your website.
  3. HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!! We are very close in age . I turn 39 on December 9th . This was an encouraging and thought provoking Post . As I read it , so many things came to mind , things of shame . Most are not "big" things , but things that can still weigh a heart down ....if I let them . I loved that part where you said " Life doesn't have to be perfect to be amazing " . I think as a wife I have an image of what a Perfect wife looks like . And even though I feel loved by my husband , I still have that Perfect wife image in my head and feel like I don't measure up to it . It used to bog my heart and mind down a lot . The Enemy really had a hold of me . It still comes on from time to time but it's less often now . It's something I really had to pray and ask God to protect my mind about . Even though far from perfection , I can still be an amazing wife without being perfect ! I can still become my husbands "dream come true" with a less than perfect body , with less than perfect housekeeping skills , less than perfect track score of being kind with my words, with a less than perfect ...fill in the blank . I think what you wrote about in this Post is so true , decluttering our hearts & homes is SO vital . Clearing out shame is just ( if not more ) important than clearing out the hall closet . Both have things in them that we don't need to hold onto any longer !
  4. Thank you for this. Really got me thinking. I have been working on seeing myself the way the Lord does for a long time. Its been a harder road then I thought. But im better then I was and I know I'll be even better up a head. Ohh and have a very Happy Birthday!!! I'm glad you enjoyed your day.
  5. I absolutely love this article!! I love your website and found it 2 years ago while I was living in Tallahassee, Fla. Now, I live in Abu Dhabi, UAE and am telling all my friends in this country about it! Please keep this up! It is very inspirational and so encouraging! I have always enjoyed everything I have read and seen on your site!
  6. Happy belated birthday Melissa, by the way!! I hope it was really wonderful and I pray that the Lord would continue to bless you as you have been a blessing to so many!!
  7. I have to say as I was reading this I was thinking about my whole list of expectations for myself. And I realized how much I am my own worst critic. I have been so broken by the way I've treated myself for my crosses and shortcomings in my life. And while I don't think I am where I need to be yet. I see that I need to let up on that 50 pound weight I keep on my shoulders. Praying today that I can start forgiving myself more and more and remember God has me on this path for reasons He knows.
  8. Hi Melissa, It just occurred to me as I was reading your article that we were not made for this world, and that what you described as your perfect life sounded more like Heaven. Just like how we want to be princesses--because we are made to be royalty-- we are also made to live in a perfect world that got messed up. Holding on to expectations of Heaven don't seem to suit what's happening here. Thanks for the reminder! :) Lisa
  9. I love this! My husband and I had a wonderful talk last night about why I have been so defensive lately. I have been letting myself have some bad days (which your example made me laugh so hard because the dog and carpet story happened recently haha). It came to a boiling point with a little thing yesterday. Now my husband and I are on the same page with how we've been feeling and we're going to work on encouraging each other more. This article is fantastic and I will be applying it to my life! Thank you!

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