If you’ve known me for a while, you have probably figured out that Napoleon Dynamite is one of my all-time favorite movies. To be honest I hated it after the first time I watched it, because it seemed to have no plot, it’s slow, and never really goes anywhere. Except it does. It just took me watching it a second time, with low expectations, to appreciate it.
Now, it’s a subtly hilarious, oft-referenced and highly quotable movie. I don’t think a week goes by that I don’t say to one of my kids, “Eat the food, Tina!”
I recently shared that I’ve been going through a difficult
few weeks season decade , in which I feel like I’m failing at most of my roles in life. I don’t want to rehash that, because it starts to feel drama queenish after a while, and I think you get it already, anyway.
I know I’m not alone in this. To prove I wasn’t alone I asked my female friends on Facebook whether they have regular, overwhelming, feelings that they are failing as a wife, mom or human. If my count is accurate, 36 of my friends admitted to experiencing this. And those were just the ones who saw the post and bothered to respond – I am confident that there are more. A couple of men piped up, too. Bravo to them.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and prayer – what do we do when we feel this way? What if some of the things we feel are based in facts – we actually are letting people down? What does that mean? What can we do? Where do we go with that? How do we fight these feelings?
I have many thoughts going in different directions, which I’ll probably share over the next several weeks. None of it will be new and breakthrough information, because it’s wisdom as old as time. What may be new is that we actually apply it.
Today, I just have a short thought to share, and this will clarify why I opened with my love for Napoleon Dynamite.
Something I believe we lack, as an American culture, is a real value for community – for deep relationships. We are living our lives alone. We are typically raising our kids alone – moms sit inside their homes trying to figure out what to do, how to do it and just fly in survival mode. That becomes our autopilot.
People go to work and come back home alone. They go to church, sing some songs, shake some hands, and never divulge what’s happening in their hearts and lives.
Our social media stats may indicate that we have thousands of friends, but the reality might be that we are a mile wide and an inch deep in real relationships. Are we known and do we know others?
I firmly believe that we are made for community – we are a tribal species, by God’s design. And when we try to live outside of that, we suffer. Shame will make itself our faithful companion wherever there is a gap.
So, the life lesson we learn from Rex today is this:
This is not the total answer to our feelings of failure (which leads to shame), but I do believe it’s part of the root issue. If you are alone you are wide open for an assault from the enemy of your soul, who knows exactly where to hurt you. If you are surrounded by people, but nobody knows you are suffering, you might as well be alone. And shame thrives in loneliness.
One of the most basic things we can do is be open. No lone ranger living. Sometimes that’s complicated, but it’s a worthy goal and pursuit. If we are willing to be known, to make ourselves known, to ask for help, to offer help, we can be healed and we can help to heal others, as well. So,
NO MORE FLYING SOLO. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM.
We need each other. We also need to give ourselves a break sometimes.
I’m not okay all the time. I battle feelings of failure. I actually do fail. But, I also win sometimes. I excel in certain areas. I’m not defined by a bad moment, or even a bad decade. I’m more than my wins and losses – I’m hidden in Christ and that is Who defines me, on my best day and on my worst. He didn’t come to condemn me, but to save me and to help me.
The same is true for you.