Every morning before I stumble out of bed to feed the dog, wake the kids, fix breakfast, chase down missing library books that “have-to-go-back-to-school-today-or-I’ll-get-in-trouble,” all before dashing to the car for the 30 minute commute to the elementary school, I spend those last few peaceful moments catching up on what I missed on Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, and the news while I slept. I know, since I’m supposed to be a “spiritual” woman, you might expect those last few peaceful moments would be spent reading scripture or praying, but honestly I prefer to read the Bible once I’m fully awake and goodness knows I have adequate opportunity (and need) for prayer during the harried morning commute. I’ve begun to wonder if maybe I should change my ways, though. Not because they make me look like a heathen, but because they start out my day making me wonder why I’m not an expert on anything. Seriously – have you noticed how many experts there are out there?
I follow a wide variety of folks on Twitter. The adoption professionals tell me the best ways to prepare my children’s teachers to deal with adoption issues in school assignments. The writing mentors tell me four ways to improve my blog, or three ways to use social media to build my brand, or the top ten grammar mistakes to avoid. (I’ve probably made all ten of those mistakes somewhere in this post already.) My “churchy” connections fill me in on the top ways to be more spiritually authentic, or how to be a godly spouse, or the best ways to be a better leader. My fitness and weight loss buddies know all the right things to do to get stronger, faster, and leaner – or at least how to fit more fruits and veggies into my daily diet.
Good grief! Does God just show up in their dreams with a blueprint for how to be the best at everything from parenting to weight loss? If so, I’d like to get my name on that dream visitation schedule. Don’t get me wrong. I have dreams – lots of them. Most of them, however, leave me scratching my head, wondering whether the conglomeration of images from the night before are trying to teach me something or whether I should watch more closely what I eat before bedtime. Rarely do my dreams give me answers. Instead they raise questions that send me digging under the rocks of my mind searching for answers.
When I read all the tidbits of wisdom from all these experts, I am visited by the big voice of my inner critic as he whisper-shouts in my ear. (Yes, I am a woman with a male inner critic. And yes, it is possible to whisper-shout. I’m seeing the image of Harry Potter being overwhelmed by the voice of Voldemort inside his own head or the hiss of Parseltongue even when no one else can even hear it.) That voice criticizes everything about me – from my lack of professional knowledge and expertise, to my poor parenting skills, to my lack of patience with my ADHD son, to my weight, to my failure to be marriage material. He is ruthless! “You can’t list the three ways to be best at anything, unless it’s the three best ways to lose your cool, or gain five pounds, or drive people batty!”
It’s true. I don’t know how to drive traffic to my blog or build a brand or a platform. (Dang, I’m not even clear on exactly what those things are anyway!) I don’t know how to improve communication in a marriage. I don’t even know how to get myself married! I don’t know the top ways to lead my church to be more missional. I can’t even get it straight about how much protein I need in my diet!
But I do know how to help my youngest daughter find those missing library books. And I know how to tell when I need to give my son melatonin because he’s too wound up to get a good night’s sleep. I know my oldest daughter’s schedule at college and which classes she enjoys the most. When I hear it thunder, I know just about how long it will be before my children show up in my bedroom with their pillows and blankets to bed down through the storm. I know exactly where on Rookie’s belly to scratch to get that doggie back-leg-kicking reflex going. I know where in our neighborhood my outdoor tomcat hangs out and I know what order to feed my herd of cats to keep them from getting in a snit with each other. I know which church members need a quick return call, which ones don’t mind waiting until tomorrow, and which ones are just fine with an email reply. I know how important it is for me to schedule time around our Wednesday prayer lunch at church to sit and visit with my senior adults for as long as they want. I might not get anything checked off my to do list that day, but I accomplish work that is far more important. I know who to go to in the church if I want to initiate a new idea, and who is most likely to raise objections to any kind of change.
Will any of those things translate into a blog post or article that will make a difference in someone else’s life? Probably not. Do they make me an expert worth quoting? Not a chance, but they make a difference in my life. What better place is there to be an expert than right where I am, today and every day?