I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on social media lately about living your best life. There might be a snapshot of someone on a cliff overlooking a canyon with a quote about the best life. Or a picture of a person kayaking down the Amazon River with a note: “Look at me floating down the Amazon. I’ve decided to live my best life.” There are yoga poses, beach poses, selfies, and family portraits, all with some type of best life caption. 

And I can’t help but wonder—am I living my best life?

I’ve never climbed a mountain. Or seen the Amazon. Or taken any kind of selfie that I would even consider posting on social media (why can my 8-year-old daughter take better selfies than I can?). I’m not even sure what living your best life means, but it sounds like fun. I wish I knew how to do it. 

A few weeks ago I found myself with a rare night alone in our house. The children were gone, my husband was gone—it was just me and the dog. After a much-needed nap on the sofa, I woke up to a night full of possibilities. Should I order take-out and binge on Netflix? Should I call up some girlfriends for a night out? Pedicure? Massage? Concert? The night was mine and I was ready to live my best life. 

Except I didn’t. I was lonely. I took out my phone and looked at pictures of the kids. I watched the silly videos they made. I wished my husband was home so I would have somebody to talk to. I moped around the house and washed the sheets. I talked to my mom on the phone. I ended up getting sushi from the grocery store and watching a documentary on PBS. My lights were out before 9 p.m. 

Obviously, I’m not the one living my best life. 

I don’t like staying up late. 

I really enjoy growing tomatoes in my backyard. 

I love reading biographies of past presidents. 

The smell of freshly mowed grass is like heaven to me. 

I don’t know how to cook with wine. 

I hate any and all sorts of games. 

My favorite place to be on a Friday night is on the couch with the kids, the dog, and my husband. 

I was worried for a little while that I wasn’t living my best life. After all, I couldn’t live up to the perfect Amazon trips or fantastic beach pictures. And even if I was, there are almost always other things popping up making me question if this is my best life or not. There might be stress at work or worry about something that happened at the kids’ school. Somebody gets sick or somebody gets mad. We fight and we make-up. The dog runs away, the air conditioner goes out, the trip gets canceled. 

But here’s the thing I have started to realize: real life is my best life.

And I really, really like mine when I stop comparing.

My best life is not your best life and that’s the beauty of it all. You might like climbing mountains and I might like the new Truman book I got at the half-priced bookstore. That’s OK. 

Sure, I enjoy new challenges and experiences. I like to think of myself as slightly adventurous with a side of caution. I’m the first one to want to travel to someplace different and meet new people. I like learning about our world and exploring wonderful places. I love a night out with good friends. Hosting people at our house is one of my favorite things to do and watching my family dance in the living room always brings me joy. We laugh a lot. We try our best to love others as Jesus taught us to do. Our house has a revolving front door, so we can go out and love our neighbor and welcome those into our home who might need a safe haven. 

But our life is never perfect. And the day we pretend it is will be the day I know we have stopped living our best life. Because I think living my best life really means being myself, loving others as God has loved us, helping those who can’t help themselves, and understanding that this life is a gift—even on the bad days. 

So you go kayak down the Amazon and I’ll keep growing my tomatoes. I’ll learn from you and you can learn from me. And we can both be living our best lives together. 

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Real Life is Messy

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Sally Newcomer

Sally lives in a small, sleepy, Louisiana town with her husband, two kids, and her favorite mutt who rules the home. She loves to write about living life in the South, her experiences with raising a son with Type 1 Diabetes, and the sacredness we can find in everyday life. Sally shares her stories on her blog: www.thesacredthesouthandsugar.com, or you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram at The Sacred, The South, and Sugar.

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