I have grown a lot. Mostly, God's changed my heart.
I've changed my mind on a lot of things. One might say that I've evolved.
Sarah Bessey thinks that "it’s important to continually give each other permission to change and to grow and to know that we’re not alone as we journey in our lives." I'm glad to know that she feels that way. Her words warm my soul with encouragement.
Now I think that I honor my Creator best when I am my real self.
For so long, the Me who I was created to be was tucked deep inside the me who I projected outward for the world to see. Surveying my life story, I see the ways that God chased me to know that I am loved, as I am; to rest in trust of Him that I am, indeed, good enough as I am. I believe God knew just how far He would need to go to get my attention. I imagine that He was waiting with patient expectation for the real me to unfurl.
Sometimes it feels scary in our head to live in this world as we are.
After years of living a certain way, I have a lightness in living. I used to pile expectations and demands upon myself, thinking that the weight was actually making me feel more comfortable like a heavy blanket. I thought maybe I'd be more uncomfortable without them; that I would fritter here and there aimlessly with no sense of direction.
I was intensely focused on thinking that I needed to pray a certain way, act a certain way, think a certain way, and feel a certain way. I was misguided, likely by my own self. I had looked around at the world and tried to sort out who I should be and how I should live, basing the answers on what I saw others doing or saying.
When I started to be the real me, I felt weeble-wobbly, like my nearly six-month babe whose muscles only recently have gotten strong enough to hold him up as he sits. I still feel a lot like that, weeble-wobbly. There are moments when I tip right over, sometimes side ways and sometimes backward. I sometimes cry when that happens.
I wish developing didn't hurt so much. And I wish I could handle the changes and demands in my life with a bit more grace and acceptance.
There are days when I am flat out and just don't want to accept other people's struggle, or even my own. I want every day to feel like a Happy Meal with a toy inside. I don't want to hear the sound of whining, mostly from myself. But I can't get away from myself. And unless I live in a cave, I can't get away from the unpredictability of everyone else in this world who may or may not say or do something that irritates me.
For so long I wanted to control me and her and him and all of them; I still do sometimes. I was angry that I wasn't made with this superhuman strength. I was angry that I was made to live in this world as a human being, prone to making mistakes and living among others just like me.
I used to think that I needed to tap myself on the shoulder and say, "Ahem, excuse me crazy lady, you're an adult, remember? So, shape up, sit up and Be an adult. No crying."
I used to think that I was supposed to ignore my real thoughts and feelings and just steer my attention and mind on the things that matter like having a vegetable at every meal that I serve my family, making sure we sit down and eat together mostly every single night, being home to tuck my children into bed each night, making sure my Boy-Man is polite and kind and organized and attentive and mindful and recalls every.single.thing he was taught.
I used to think that if I stayed married and didn't get a divorce and didn't do drugs and stayed away from alcohol and worked out mostly every day and ate healthy and stayed away from certain foods and didn't get a ticket and didn't scream and shout and didn't walk away in anger and didn't lose my cool and forgave every person who ever offended me and accepted them as they are and didn't make demands or judge them or talk behind their back . . . then I would be "good". And everyone knows that good girls are admired by all the others who are missing out on all the joy just waiting for them to receive when they finally get everything right.
If . . . then.
I used to live my life rules based, like a mathematical equation.
I used to think that if I wear certain undergarments and do certain moves with a certain kind of regularity, then my marriage would be happy ever after.
I used to think that if my son gets on the honor roll, then everyone will know how smart he is and that by knowing how smart he is there won't be any opportunity that will be out of his grasp.
I used to think that if I arrive at work early and leave late and work in between and hustle my butt to perform, then I'll be promoted and seen and appreciated.
I used to think that if I run at least every other day and make sure that I keep to a strict calorie count each day, then I will be healthy and well.
I used to think so much that sent me running wildly every single day. Out of breath. Exhausted. And definitely not content or happy.
Now I think that kind of living is no kind of life.
Now I think that struggle is simply part of life and that it isn't something we can escape simply by behaving a certain way.
Now I think that we have permission to feel and that we have permission to struggle.
Now I think that facing our struggles and admitting them and being present with them honors The One who created us as human beings with vast, colorful feelings.
Now I think that there are cloudy days and windy days and huge stormy days and that it isn't anyone's fault, but that it's just part of life.
Now I think that there is beauty in the middle of the muck and there is redemption and that we don't have to do anything to make us worthy enough to experience it.
Now I think that our imperfect selves as we are is enough for today, for this moment right now.
Now I think that venting our feelings is like the gutteral roar and scream of giving birth, a sometimes necessary part of the process.
Now I think that receiving ourselves as we are is the pathway to peace
-- to freedom and life.
Like Sarah, I've had some sorting out in my life.
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