Friday, April 24, 2015

On pleasing everyone else

The summer after I graduated high school, I had just ended an unhealthy relationship and, to help with my will power in not contacting said ex, I threw myself into working and college. I took a couple of classes at a community college and worked three jobs. I waited tables during the day at a small restaurant in town that was only open during lunch, taught cheer and tumbling for a family friend at her small cheer studio, and worked to-go at Chili’s.

I was sooo busy, but it more than accomplished my goal of keeping me from making the dreaded “I changed my mind” call to my ex-boyfriend and also helped me to pay for school (I had changed my mind on where to go to college at the last minute and missed out on scholarship deadlines). It was a fun time and definitely satisfied my extrovert needs. I got to talk to people all day and make some new friends. Some of the people I worked with at Chili’s would get together after work (after work=11 pm or later) to play Texas Hold’em at one of their parents’ house in the garage.

It was eye-opening for me. I had never played poker of any kind or gambled (I picked up somewhere in my upbringing that any kind of gambling was sinful… not sure where I got that?). I had also never been around people who legitimately enjoyed spending time with parents. Everyone called the dad “Pup” and the mom “Red” (she was obviously a redhead). Red would pop in and out to play a few hands or provide snacks while she crocheted. We would stay up, late into the night, basically giving away the tips we had just earned and taking turns running to 7-11 to pick up a round of Icees for the remaining stragglers. There we sat, sucking down sugary ice and giving our money to Pup. (Note to self: teach children to play poker… sucker their friends into playing… retirement? Check.)

This was also my first experience at spending significant amounts of time with people who didn’t know me or my background. I had this idea I could recreate myself… I didn’t have to be the annoying drunk girl I was in high school. I didn’t have to be the girl with an awful overbite and frizzy hair I was in middle school through junior high. I didn’t have to be the girl who could not stop gossiping or the girl who never knew the right music or could afford the right clothing (this was when we were all expected to wear tiny Abercrombie and Fitch shirts with our ripped jeans and Old Navy flip flops with the straightest highlighted hair possible). I had goals! I had ambitions! I was going to be someone different! Clean slate.

Unfortunately, I fell right into the same pattern that made me the gossip and the annoying drunk girl (the overbite and frizzy hair were genetic and couldn’t be helped). I tried to be whatever I thought they wanted me to be. They all listened to indie bands I hadn’t heard of… which, once you start trying to stay “in the know” with indie bands, it becomes a full-time undertaking. They were from wealthier backgrounds than I was… they knew how to golf. I had never golfed in my life… so naturally I borrowed my dad’s clubs and tried to learn. I read online about how to get better at poker. They were really into baseball and I had never cared about baseball. Yet, I found myself checking scores on ESPN so I could have something to contribute to conversation.

I had not changed a single bit. Before, I had gossiped so I could be the one with the information… because in my experience I had witness those with the information being the ones people wanted to talk to. I had been the annoying drunk girl… because I thought that being the center of attention, even if it is negative attention, is still better than being the girl no one talks about. Only now, it was pretending I knew indie bands or baseball scores. I still wasn’t being who I really was. I was still trying to define myself by what I thought other people wanted me to be.

I eventually moved on from that job and met other people and continued the same pattern for most of my early 20s. I would like to say God has completely freed me from this slippery-slope… but it continues to be my default. I have to regularly check myself, “am I acting this way because I think this will make people like me? Is this who I really am?” Now that I have, by the grace of God, experienced a lot of healing in this area, it is really easy for me to spot it in other people. I want to grab them by their shoulders and say, “stop it. Just be who you are. It’s ok if you are too loud or have a dorky laugh or enjoy nerdy TV shows. It’s ok if you don’t know what people are talking about. It’s ok to be exactly who you are with your past. Because you are not defined by those things. You have inherent worth and value because you are a person. Not because of what you do. You are created in the image of God. Period. Jesus died for you, you specifically. That gives you value. Stop trying to add to it.”


So, if this is you, please hear me. Embrace your mess. Embrace who you are as you are. Whether you are too shy or laugh too loud or have a dry sense of humor. Whether you really don’t enjoy eating weird food even if all of your friends do or you are the only one who suggests ethnic food every time when everyone else wants burgers. Whether you are really outdoorsy or would rather just binge watch Netflix on the couch all day. It is ok. Stop trying to meet expectations you are putting on yourself. No one is thinking about you as much as you think they are. God’s opinion is the only one that matters. And it was satisfied on the Cross a long time ago. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tumbling

I was a cheerleader for both my freshman and sophomore years of high school. (Try not to judge me too harshly…) The eyeliner... the braces... I can't imagine why I wasn't the hottest girl in school...
     I really enjoyed going to all of the games and spending time with the girls… although the drama could get a little high when you combined 10+ prepubescent, boy-crazy girls in one bus. I loved my coach and all of the excused absences to go to wrestling tournaments didn’t hurt, either.

     But my favorite part of cheerleading was tumbling. I took a tumbling class in a town about 15 minutes from my hometown one night a week. I loved that it was difficult but that I was usually able to catch on quickly. Plus, it was very easy to measure improvement from week to week (something that I lack these days… how do you measure improvement when parenting littles?)

     When I had mastered the back handspring it was only natural that I would move on to the back tuck. I was able to get the gist of it fairly quickly but there was a problem: I was incapable of performing a back tuck without a spot. An older girl on the cheerleading squad needed to only place her hand on the small of my back and I could back tuck with ease, over and over again. If she stepped away, I would under-rotate and fall on my knees and stumble forward. Every. Single. Time. My coach and friends were amazed that I simply could NOT do the same physical mechanics if there weren’t a small hand on my back.

     I was reminded of my back tuck conundrum this past week as my one-year-old son has been slowly working his way toward walking. As long as he is holding on to one of my fingers with one of his hands, he trots around with ease. The second I pull my finger away, he sinks slowly to his knees and back to his preferred method of transportation: speed crawl.


     Why he puts so much trust in my finger is beyond me. He is fully capable of walking… his muscles know the movements. His body is physically capable. Yet, without the comfort of grasping my finger, his confidence wanes and to his knees he goes. It was the same for me in high school… without the light touch on the curve of my back, I was not able to complete a back tuck. My muscles knew what to do. I was physically capable. But mentally, I did not trust my abilities.

Psalm 20:7English Standard Version (ESV)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.


     I think part of growing up is forcing yourself to let go of the finger, take the jump back without the spotter. There have been many times in the recent years I’ve said, “I wish my parents could just do this for me.” Whether it was calling around to get insurance quotes for our cars, figuring out what to do after being in a car accident, trying to decide on schooling for our kids in the future, or remembering to pay my bills on time. In that moment, there is no finger to grasp, no spotter in case you under-rotate. You just have to trust that God has equipped you, your muscles know what to do, and you are capable. Of course you could just keep crawling or never do the back tuck and coast on without taking risks, doing what you (or those around you) have always done or told you to do. But then you’re neglecting to develop that trust muscle… the muscle that is only developed by trusting in God’s provision time and time again… taking that baby step out in faith, without a finger to hold on… trusting His Spirit is in you… and, as scary as it sounds, sometimes it’s more efficient to eventually learn to walk on your own… which leads to running and skipping and jumping… and eventually, maybe even a back tuck. 


Thursday, April 16, 2015

On bravery...

Brene Brown regularly says the being brave is being vulnerable.

I spent most of my life NOT being brave. I did what I thought others expected of me and chose things at which I knew I would succeed. Zero vulnerability. Relatively low risk of failure. Safe. So NOT brave. So fearful. So wanting to be applauded, accepted, liked, approved, affirmed (apparently I like “A” words… part of me desperately wants to remove “liked” from this list so that alliteration abounds!)

I still play it relatively safe. I only talk about Jesus if other people bring Him up… I try not to offend (and still fail…  imagine if I wasn’t trying to be safe?! Oh, the people I would offend!) I avoid hard conversations to the best of my ability (unless it’s with someone I have deemed “safe”). I try to be genuinely likable. I carefully chose my vulnerability… since being authentic and vulnerable is kind of the trend now, I have allowed myself to do it to an extent.

However, I hide this blog… I don’t publicize it. I am so afraid that people will read my words and know something about me that I don’t want them to know… or worse, they will think I am a horrible writer wasting space on the internet (totally dumb… there is really stupid stuff on the internet!) But today I have decided to let people in to this space. I know that doesn’t really seem brave… especially in light of what others do… the BIG brave things that people do… but if bravery is truly just being vulnerable, then bravery is going to look differently for everyone.

For my friend that’s a single mom, bravery is signing her child up for daycare so she can complete more of her work at home… even though sending her babies to daycare was not something she ever wanted to do.

For my other friend, bravery is wearing a tank top and showing her arms- about which she is self-conscious.

For some, bravery may be taking a trip… signing up for a gym membership… looking a stranger in the eye and saying hello… quitting a job (or staying at a job you hate!)… inviting a neighbor over to your less-than-perfect home.

Find what bravery looks like for you today… maybe it’s simply asking God what the next small step of faithfulness is and taking that step… trusting Him even though it may not look like you want it to look… even though it’s scary. As terrified as I am to let people know I (gulp) blog, I honestly feel like this is what being faithful is for me. I am to share the growth I have experienced through following Jesus… and I am to share it with others.


So, here I am. Judge away. I can take it.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Three.

Chief, you made me a mom... a role I was reluctant to take. I am the least adequate person for the job.

 You are passionate. You feel with the strongest emotions imaginable. There is no question as to what is on your mind.
 You are a delight and a joy. You have stretched me in ways I never thought possible.
 When I think of you, I smile. You are funny and caring. You have such a merciful heart.
 You are curious and inquisitive. You laugh the loudest and eat the fastest. You just want to go, go, go.
 You don't want to be the center of attention. You want to observe and slowly join... once you are sure.
 You love the outdoors and especially digging. You love fire trucks, any kind of construction vehicle and (lately) snowplows.
 You are slowly figuring out what it means to be a big brother. You love Dax and want to show him everything.
 You love your daddy and ask to go visit him at work almost every day. You love to wrestle and tackle and play rough.
 You want to know everyone's names when we meet them and when they can come over for dinner. You have taught me hospitality.
 You love your grandparents and would have them over every single day.
 You like to cuddle with your mom and dad.

You love changing clothes and picking out different outfits throughout the day.
 You love cooking and baking and always ask to help with whatever I am making.
 You have taught me more about living in the moment than I could have learned anywhere else.
I love you, so so much. Happy 3rd birthday!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

When you want to be all of the things and it's just not time for that...

There will be time for that. I promise, there will.

I am a strong feeler. I love, love music. There are songs that make me feel so alive... songs that make me want to sing so loud I am almost shouting.

I love, love food. I want to learn how to chop correctly. I want to taste food from everywhere. I want to travel extensively... following my appetite, eating how the natives eat.

I love running. I want to run everywhere. I want to explore by running. I want to run to new restaurants.

I am a reader. I love books. I want to read all of the books on all of the lists of books you should read before you die.

I am a learner. I want to be in school forever. I genuinely enjoy studying and learning and discussing topics with other learners and quizzing and being quizzed and note-taking.

I read in a Shauna Niequist book that her mother taught her that "if you take the next right step, if you live a life of radical and honest prayer, if you allow yourself to be led by God's Spirit, no matter how far from home and familiarity it takes you, you won't have to worry about where you want to be when you grow up. You'll be too busy living a life of passion and daring."

Right now, the next step looks a little like the last. I feel like I am living in some sort of Groundhog Day. Play with small boys... this involves a lot of trucks and blocks. Read a lot of books about cars and diggers. Correct. Train. Encourage (this happens less often than I would like to admit).

I daydream about traveling. I see my single friends hiking in Peru on Facebook, eating creamy pasta with crusted bread in Italy, running marathons in San Francisco, getting together for brunch and throwing back black coffee with picturesque blueberry muffins and runny eggs (isn't that just second breakfast? How late do you people sleep?) I get the social media thing... we are only seeing their best moments. But I can't help but yearn for all of these loves and passions I have.

But I know that just because I am not doing that today, it doesn't mean never. It also doesn't mean that I can't be fully present in where God has me today. God, the infinitely wise architect of the entire universe, knit me together for this exact day. The next step looks like praying for wisdom on how to lovingly parent my sensitive toddler. The next step looks like washing the dishes from lunch so that I can use them again for dinner. The next step looks like faithfulness in small things. And, sure, it may involve sneaking in a chapter or two of a new book... or planning a family vacation to Destin in May. The way God created me doesn't have to be squashed until my children are old enough. It just looks different for now. I don't have to be all of the things... I can just rest in being the things God created and equipped me to be today. I can be all of the things, someday. It's just not time for all of them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This is rest. This is 2015.

We are exactly 3 weeks into the year 2015.

I've never picked a word for the new year. I've done (and quit) resolutions a plenty.


As I mulled over what I felt like God kept throwing it my face to focus on this year... it became painfully obvious...

Rest.

Isn't picking "rest" for the year kind of an anti-resolution? It sounds so lazy... unproductive.

It's such a heavy word for me, though. Rest in who Christ made me to be. Rest in how the Spirit has equipped me. Rest in my identity in Jesus. Physically rest when my flesh tells me I need to exercise because a nap doesn't burn calories.

Resting (in every sense of the word) is really difficult for someone who wants everyone to see them as productive, intelligent, healthy and in shape. Resting is difficult for someone who craves approval like sugar (and, in all honesty, craves sugar, too). Resting is difficult for someone who feels they have to earn everything in life.

So I don't predict this being a particularly easy year in that sense. I'm still in counseling for this very issue. There have been a few days that I made my exhausted self take a nap instead of go for a run. I have gained weight. I don't know if that's from stress eating or lack of exercise or both. It's really hard for me. I want to just exercise all the extra calories off. But I feel like over and over God is saying REST.

I don't know if I will end this year a person capable of resting. I do long for the peace that surpasses all understanding. I long to be someone who rests in her identity in Christ, regardless of weight or appearance. I know that God will complete a good work in me... I just need to believe that the good work is defined by him.. not me... and that I don't have to do anything to add to what has already been done for me on the cross.

Monday, January 12, 2015

On creating positive margin

I don't think that finding margin is really the issue for any of us... as "busy" as I am, I find time to check instagram and facebook... I find time to work out and sit on my couch and stare. Yet, I often feel overworked and overexerted. I am a well running dry. The lies in my mind are rampant.

What I think my problem is... and maybe this is true for others... my "margin"... my "rest"... isn't productive or positive. Does margin have to have a purpose? Does rest have to be productive? I think when times of margin and rest can be so few and far between we must find a way to make them productive. REALLY eliminate the noise and the extra voices affirming the lies we believe.

I am such an approval seeker so rest and margin are struggles for me... yet, as I mentioned earlier, I still check social media. I don't think the answer is to eliminate social media. I will still fill my time mindlessly. I think it's directing my margin and directing my rest. Relying on the Spirit when it comes to these things. Why is opening my Bible and journal the last thing I want to do for rest? I genuinely do feel rested afterwards... yet I gravitate toward that which does not refresh me. Isaiah 55:2-3...

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
 Incline your ear, and come to me;
ghear, that your soul may live;
hand I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
imy steadfast, sure love for jDavid.

Lord... may I not spend my margin... my rest on that which does not satisfy. May I rest on what is good and delight myself in margin that is rich.