I walked back into my own kitchen after dinner with some out of town friends at our favorite restaurant. And what I saw sucked joy right out of my cheeks.
Uneaten pizza left on the cutting board, now hard as a rock, unrefrigerated for hours. Dirty dishes piled up in the sink, spilling over to both sides of the counter. I hung my pretty purse on the hook in the laundry room, swirled the scarf from around my neck, slipped my arms out of a cardigan, pulled rings off my fingers, watch off my wrist, and began unloading the full dishwasher of clean dishes while warm water ran from the tap.
With every plate I stacked, every knife, fork and spoon put back in its proper place, resentment welled up into an emotional lake; familiar self-talk churning the waters with every silent sentence.
Why does everyone depend on me to clean up their mess?
While I pushed a greasy skillet stuck with traces of dried breakfast eggs into sudsy water, rinsed bowls and glasses, H walked passed dressed in shorts and a t-shirt holding another dirty glass. I, however, was still standing in my high heels. “What’s wrong,” he asked as he began making coffee in the corner.
“I didn’t really want to be doing dishes at 10pm on Sabbath,” I replied with my head hanging down into the sink.
“Why aren’t the kids doing them,” he wisely asked.
Murielle lay cozy on the couch under a blanket, ten minutes into a movie, while Harrison was lost in creating a masterpiece on Minecraft after folding a mound of laundry. I didn’t want to ask, interrupt, or impose on my children.
I hadn’t set boundaries before we left for dinner. I said nothing to keep my kids accountable and I walked into a wreck. Instead of following up, I decided to do it myself, because shame was the voice I was hearing.
You’re terrible at doing this, you know. You are distracted, unorganized and forgetful when it comes to parenting. This is really all your fault. They’ll never survive on their own and Murielle only has a few months left before she leaves for college. Someone else would be better suited to be their mother.
Do you see how ridiculous shame sounds when you actually say it out loud? And shame loves perfectionists. We’ve mastered the art of keeping our shame a secret. I didn’t even realize what I was thinking until H asked me why I was angry. Clarity came as we talked it out.
“Compassionate people are boundaried people,” says Brene Brown in the Gifts of Imperfection. “If we really want to practice compassion, we have to start by setting boundaries and holding people accountable for their behavior.”
If I’m honest, it feels like a lot more emotional work to give my kids a list of chores. I want to avoid an uncomfortable interaction of eye rolls, deep sighs, and potential frustration. I want to side-step the self-imposed guilt of asking my husband who works all day for help.
But the results of keeping my desires all to myself and shrugging off the work of accountability are this — I feel used and mistreated. And that isn’t the truth.
Jesus gives boundaries, holds us accountable for our choices and then extends compassion when we fail and repent. He is the model for healthy, wholehearted relationship.
It is impossible to practice compassion towards others and yourself when you are standing over a sudsy sink of resentment.
We were not harbors for shame, but light bearers, carrying the countenance of his glory. On some days that looks like forgiving yourself and asking your children to clean up after themselves. Before you enjoy a nice dinner out with your husband.
Have you ever thought about how failing to set boundaries and holding people accountable is keeping you from experiencing compassion toward yourself and others?
In October, I’m hosting a series based on The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown where I plan to unpack what loving yourself looks like practically. We’ll be diving into the deep end of wholehearted living. Join me forRedemptions Beauty Book Club and here in the comments? I would be honored to have your input.
Linking with Laura, Jennifer, Emily.