Being OK with Me

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I’m OK with myself. Really, I am. The title up there might indicate I don’t like myself very much. Most of the time, I’m OK with me. I see my strengths and weaknesses. I see how I’ve changed and grown over the years. I generally feel contentment about who I am, where I am and what I do.

But.

But, there is also this nagging feeling that I am not enough. I should be more or do more. I should fix something. I should try harder. There is a shadow following me around whispering, “I should. I should. I should.”

I know I’m not alone. I sense you feel it, too. I hear it when you talk about how you’re failing. I see it when you stand on the edge, wondering if you fit.  I know because, well, me too. I lay in my bed wondering what you think of me after our conversation earlier in the day. I cringe when you compare yourself to me, yet turn around and compare myself to you.

I read about it almost weekly on the internet. On a recent day, I came across two such posts. They were published on different days, but I stumbled upon them the same day.

I read these words and shout, “Amen!” Phrases that never come out of my mouth start popping into my head. “Preach it, Sista!” “You go, Girl!” You get the idea. The words of those posts are full of truth. They sooth and encourage, and I embrace them. I’m OK with me. For a few hours. Or maybe even a whole day.

But the shadow catches up to me again. I grasp for the truth, but it slips through my fingers.

My husband is leading a couple groups through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University this fall. At the end of the first DVD session, Dave says, “What would happen to the kingdom of God if the people of God were out of debt? How much of this world could we, as believers, change?”

I wonder the same about women. What could the women of God — the daughters of Christ — do for the kingdom of God if we were all OK with ourselves? How could God use us if I was OK with me and you were OK with you?

I want to recognize areas for growth and change in my life without a sense of shame.

I want to celebrate your gifts and successes without feeling like I’m not enough.

I want to lay in my bed praying for you, not worrying about what I said to you earlier in the day.

I want to compare my “right now” to my “used to be” and not some unrealistic idea of perfection.

You, too? Let’s wrestle with this for 31 days.*

*I originally intended to participate in the 31 Days series, but I was unable to complete the series in 31 days. It is an on-going series here. Thank you for grace as I work to complete it.

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31 Days: Being OK with Me

Being OK with Me.

I linked up at The Nesting Place for the annual 31 Days series. I attempted two 31 Days series, which was a very unrealistic goal. I’ve turned this into an on-going series I will contribute to for several months. Thank you for your grace.

Being OK with Me. (The introduction.)

A Disclaimer

Scrubbing the Deck

A Quote

A Theme Song

Being OK in this Culture

I am a Writer.

I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.

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It happened just a few weeks ago. I received an email from someone I was working with for a church committee. He wrote an article for the church newsletter I put together, and it needed to be condensed to also fit in the church bulletin. I offered to help. He liked my work and said in his email, “You should be a writer!”

I smiled and said to myself, “That’s because I am a writer!” And that was it! The first time I actually called myself a writer. It wasn’t heard outside my own head, but it has always been my head that needed to hear it most.

You would think someone with a degree in journalism, who blogs at three sites, would have called herself a writer years ago, but that hasn’t been the case. I was a “reporter” and “a person who sometimes writes,” but the phrase “I am a writer” was not in my vocabulary.

I’ve written before about my battle with words, how they swirl in my head and beg to be released from the prison in my brain. I’ve written before about why I didn’t call myself a writer, because I was too random about writing in this space. I never called myself a writer, even though I was writing.

I remember one summer as a kid when my brother and I made a newsletter talking about what was happening in our neighborhood. The summer after my freshman year of college, I sent a cheesy form letter to my college friends, asking about their summers. They all replied, and I published stories in a newsletter about what everyone was up to. (I mailed it out via snail mail, of course, since that was before it was common to have reliable internet access in your home.) My first job after graduating from college was with a news agency, and I gradually did more and more writing and even got some stories with “writer” behind my byline. When I left that job, my editor gave me a pen. “Keep writing,” she said. I’ve been writing and editing my church newsletter for nearly 13 years. Yet, if someone asked me if I was a writer, I hemmed and hawed and stuttered. “Well, sometimes I like to write,” I’d say.

I know I’m not alone in this battle to call oneself a writer. It seems a similar story for anyone who delves into the creative life, whether it be painting, sculpting or stringing together words. If you are a teacher, you teach people. If you are a plumber, you fix pipes. If you are a writer, you write. Right? It shouldn’t matter where or how often or if you’ve been published or paid.

Maybe I just needed more time to figure myself out. Maybe I needed the experience of writing regularly, which I have this year over at The Journey. Maybe I was afraid of admitting the truth because I don’t know where it will lead.

Whatever the issue, I’m over it. I’ve made the declaration, and I’m probably diving into deeper battles. But at least one thing is clear now:  I am a writer.

 

 

Book Review: You’re Already Amazing

I hear a missionary share about her work in Africa. I think, “Maybe I should go to Africa!”

I see a family with twelve children. I think, “Maybe I should have twelve kids!”

I read about a mom who cooks everything from scratch, homeschools her children, runs a business from home, has organized every square inch of her house, writes blog posts every day, and has a weekly date night with her husband, all while looking super cute in her thrift store finds. I think, “Maybe I should do all of that!”

It’s certainly okay to be inspired by someone’s story, challenged to re-think my life choices, or follow someone else’s example. But sometimes I’m working so hard to be like everybody else, that I forget to be who God made me to be. 

If you’ve ever felt the same, wondered what you should really be doing with your life, or wished you could just do life better, I recommend the book You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth.

And here’s the thing: we only get one you. There never has been, and never will be, another you in this world. God doesn’t have a backup plan or replacement policy. That’s why I feel so passionately about you being who you are and embracing it. We don’t need a copy of someone else–we need to the one and only, original you.

— Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing, pg. 180

God did not create me to go around trying to be like everyone else. He uniquely designed and gifted me for a purpose. I sometimes wish God would just send me an email and tell me what to do with my life. And while You’re Already Amazing is not an email from God, it is an encouraging book with plenty of words that likely would be included if God were to send you an email. {Grin.}

With a series of tools, questions and examples, Holley helps you better recognize and evaluate your strengths, skills, relational style, personality and more, all with a warm, conversational style that makes you feel like you are chatting at her kitchen table. She weaves in a bit of poetry and shares stories from the women she counsels, her friends and her own life. She addresses lies you believe about being perfect and comparing ourselves to others, and gives guidance for determining where God’s journey is taking you.

This book seems incredibly timely for me, as I ponder what to do with my life in the coming years when my kids will all be in school. It also seems like a great book to keep as a reference, to re-read when I’m questioning a decision or headed to a new season of life.

More than anything, this book left me feeling content to be me. Just me. Quirks, issues, imperfections and hopes included.

And, psssst! Do you know what? The same goes for you! You’re amazing!

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If you’d like to know more about the book, check out DaySpring’s site here.

For more about the author, check out HolleyGerth.com.

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*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of You’re Already Amazing in exchange for this review, however all opinions are mine. Gracias.

One Word 2012

I was standing in our dining room, sorting papers on the table and thinking about my year of grace. I wonder what my word for 2012 should be?

And, BAM! It was there. A word popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere.

Pffft. I can’t pick that word, I thought, almost laughing out loud. What?! Where did this come from? It’s just not fitting for me and my I’ll-stay-behind-the-scenes-please personality. 

My previous words of discipline, balance and grace were good, responsible, safe words. This one seemed risky.

Maybe my fear of the word is the very reason I should pick it. I argued with myself. (Or was I arguing with the word, or was it God? Did this word come from Him?) It’s only October, so I can still change my mind if the word doesn’t fit come January.

So, I made an agreement with the word, or the giver of the word (whoever that was), that maybe, just maybe, I would find time to entertain her in 2012. I whispered, barely letting myself hear, that my word might be … (is anyone looking?) … DANCE.

Just days after my dining room agreement, I helped at a party in my son’s second grade classroom. I was to help the head room mom at the candy walk station. Similar to the cake walk game, kids walked on numbers until the music stopped, and we played until everyone got one candy bar. The first group of kids had all received their candy and there was time before they moved to the next station, so the head room mom had an idea. “I’ll just keep playing the music and everybody can dance,” she happily proclaimed.

And dance they did. All of the kids, in all three groups that rotated through our station, freely moved, jumped and danced around the front of the classroom. The head room mom jumped right in, too, showing off crazy moves like the sprinkler and lawnmower. I clutched my bucket filled with numbers for the game and shuffled my feet back and forth, like a seventh grade boy at a junior high dance. How come I didn’t get assigned to the cookie making station? Or the Bingo game? I wondered. Is this some sort of joke?

My body wasn’t moving much, but loud thoughts were pounding in my head. Thoughts of fear and freedom and this strange longing to be more like the kids spinning around in front of me. Ok, ok! I thought. Maybe I do need this word. 

I haven’t signed up for a dance class or participated in a flash mob in a mall. Last year, I learned to run, and in doing so, learned much more about living life than the actual act of running. I suspect learning to dance will be similar. Yesterday, Emily Freeman wrote about being an artist. “Art isn’t so much the things we do but the way in which we do them,” she said.

It isn’t so much the way I dance, but the way in which I live. A life with a little less fear and a little more freedom to move with the music. Or at least that’s what I think at the beginning of the year. Maybe when December rolls around I’ll have to throw a dance party. 😉 (And I can’t believe I just wrote that in public. It will certainly be an interesting year!)

So, here we go, 2012! Let’s DANCE!

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I have not been very good at writing about my “word” for the year for the past three years, because I haven’t been very consistent at writing. But, I highly recommend the exercise of choosing a word for the year, even if you never write about it.

If you are interested in picking a word, or you already have and wonder what to do next, I suggest checking out these places:

Mandy at Messy Canvas had a great post called What Do I do With My Word?

One Word 365 is a community of One Worders (is that a word?) and a place to share your word. (I’ll be linking this post over there, too.)