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.

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.

 

 

Day 6: Define Your Details

This is it, the last assignment. Hopefully it has been helpful for you to really think about your habits and how you want to tackle changing one. 

Today we will define exactly how we plan to change our habit. We will incorporate everything from our previous assignments and write out a solid plan.

The habit I am changing is to tame my online time. It’s impossible to avoid social media, so I can’t just “quit” it. I can be intentional about how I use it. I currently have a laptop and an iPod touch with WiFi access. I don’t even have a fancy smart phone or my problem would probably be much worse. Here’s my plan for reducing my online time for the rest of the month:

  • Check email first thing in the morning, at lunch and then after the kids are in bed. No more checking email every time I hear a “ding” notification from my iPod that I have a new message. The messages won’t go away. (I think I can disable the “ding,” and I should look into that.)
  • Only check Facebook from my computer, and most likely only in the evening. Remove my Facebook app from my iPod to remove the temptation. (Yikes!) I will make an exception if I get an email notifying me of a message I feel I need to respond to sooner than later. In that case, which should be somewhat rare, I will log on to Facebook and only respond to that message, not browse anything else.
  • Check my Twitter feed in the morning, at lunch and after the kids are in bed. I prefer the app on my iPod for checking Twitter over the official website, so I’ll keep that app but try to ignore it during the day.
  • Take a 24-hour internet “Sabbath.” From Saturday evening to Sunday evening I will not be online. At all. (Double yikes!) I’m picking that time frame to spend some time on Sunday, a traditional day of rest (in theory) for our family, resting from the internet. I’m not just blocking off all of Sunday because I feel it helps get Monday off to a better start to catch up on emails Sunday night.

So, there you have it! My plan to *gulp* reduce my time online. It’s a “gusto” plan, I guess, since I’m not gradually adding any of these steps. I’m just jumping in and going for it. Since it’s Saturday evening, I guess I’ll go ahead and start right now by signing off. Feel free to start your habit on Sunday or Monday, which ever makes most sense for your plan.

See you in 24 hours!

Day 3: Decide & The Big Reveal

Today is the day you decide what your habit will be. Are you ready? Hopefully you’ve spent enough time thinking about what habit would be good for you to tackle this month.

So, today you make the decision, but you don’t have to start your change yet. I know, we’re taking it extremely slow. I think it’s important. Especially for someone, like myself, who would like to change the world in a day. Just decide your habit, and we’ll work on a few more assignments before jumping in.

And now … drum roll please … my habit will be … taming my time online! It’s a little ironic, I realize, to spend a month writing ONLINE about reducing my time online, but it’s something that needs to be done. I love the internet and the connections I’ve made with family, friends and even strangers through social media, but I want to be intentional about how much of my life is consumed with online time.

How about you? What’s your habit going to be? Are you joining in? If you are, would you mind leaving a comment? If you’re really ambitious, write a blog post and leave a link in the comments. It will be fun!

 

Dear Me

Last year, I read Emily Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl and found it to be written just for me. She has a new book out called Graceful, and it’s the same message as her previous book directed at teenage girls. I’m pretty sure I could have used that book as a teen! In honor of the new book, Emily invited people to write a letter to their teenage self and link it up to her blog. It was a fun little assignment, you might want to do it yourself. Mine is below.

Dear 17-year-old me,

I’ve lived twice as long as you now, can you believe it? You played house for so many years and dreamed of being a grown up, and now you are one. It’s been a good life, and I’ve learned a few things that you might find helpful. So, as you venture into your senior year of high school, here are some things you should know:

Stop being so scared to try new foods. Specifically, can you figure out how to like lettuce and other green leafy things? It might be OK as a teenager to eat only two croutons and the cherry tomato half on every salad automatically given to you at a banquet or reception, but ordering everything sans lettuce as a 35-year-old is a little embarrassing. Yes, your husband (Really! You DO get one! More on him later.) also dislikes lettuce, making you true soul mates, but you are both trying to eat healthier these days, and tolerating lettuce would really be a bonus in that department.

You were never really good at getting your hair “big” like the other girls. It’s a fad that’s already going out of style, but don’t fret. It just means many less embarrassing photos later in life. You’re really not much into fads anyway. I mean, you rolled your jeans and wore multiple pairs of brightly colored socks with your white canvas shoes, but you were never the trend setter. Trendy isn’t your thing, and that’s OK, too. Everyone has their own style, even if it’s not evident in high school.

That’s me, second from the left.

For someone who isn’t very good with numbers, you are pretty set on one number: your GPA. Can I tell you a little secret? When you are 35 you will not remember what your GPA was. Gasp! I know. I know. It’s a statistic that gives you worth, proves you are good. You enjoy school and you love to learn, those are wonderful things. But stop letting perfect grades stress you out! That B in choir your freshman year was a gift, I tell you, a gift! Can you imagine your stress level if you had the chance for that perfect 4.0? You are so much more than a number. Just last week your oldest child brought home his/her first school paper with a grade on top. (Sorry for the gender confusion, but you and the hubs are a rare breed who don’t find out the gender of your children before they are born. I don’t want to spoil the surprise!) The child is in third grade, the first year with real letter grades. And that first school paper with a grade on top did a number on your heart. The grade was a good one, there was no disappointment. In fact, this child does very well in school, just like you did. But the truth is, you see beyond the grade, the numbers, the statistics. You see your precious child whom you value for so much more than his/her ability to get good grades. Keep doing well in school and enjoy learning, but stop letting your GPA determine your self worth.

You girls know how to party with your sparkling grape juice and big, baggy shirts!

You also need to know that having a boyfriend does not give you value either. I’m pretty sure you know this one, but it’s still hard to feel like the only one who never had a boyfriend. You aren’t the only one. You have an amazing group of girlfriends (Hey, we’re still friends, can you believe it?) and those friendships are a huge blessing! Enjoy the time you spend together. You have had many experiences in high school, and will have more opportunities in college, that you might have missed out on if there was a guy to distract you. Instead, you have missed out on heartache and who knows what kind of trouble. You will spend most of your college years without a boyfriend either. So, just learn to enjoy meeting new people and stop wondering if every event you attend might be the event where you meet “the one.” All that brain power could be used for more noble causes. Towards the end of your senior year of college you will see a cute guy at your church. And then you will see him several places around campus, wondering why you never saw him before. You will not get the opportunity to meet him at church, and you will sing like Alanis Morrisette that it’s ironic, but do not despair! You know that job giving tours of the dorms to new students where you’ll only make $50?  Totally worth it! You’ll get to work with — yep, you guessed it — cute church boy! And it turns out to be the perfect opportunity for two kinda quiet people to meet and fall in love. So worth the wait!

This letter is getting long, but there is one more thing that you must know: It is OK to make mistakes. You are so desperate to do what’s right and what pleases God. This is a good thing, yet you take it to an extreme. You are constantly wondering if you are doing things good enough, if what you are doing is really God’s will, if there is something you are missing that would make your life more aligned with God. (And you’re developing a rather prideful and judgmental heart, which is definitely not God’s will for your life.) That voice telling you you are not good enough is not God’s voice. I wish I could say that at 35 you’ve stopped listening to that voice, but much like your lettuce preferences, some battles take longer to win. The good news is you start to listen more to the voice of God’s grace. It’s been there all along, you just tune it out in favor of items to put on your “I’m good enough check list.” So, throw that list away, even though it’s not on paper and only in your imagination. Cause that’s just it, it’s an imaginary list. Much like you see your children for being worth more than their grades, God sees you for more than what you do. He appreciates your heart so desperate to follow Him, but He really just wants you to get to know Him and to enjoy His presence in your life. If you start there, the “doing what’s right” will naturally follow.

There is so much more I could tell you — and I know you think you want to know every detail — but the stuff I already told you is a good start. Enjoy the journey!

Love,

Me 🙂

P.S. As a 35-year-old, you’ll wish 70-year-old you would send along a letter. But, then you’ll realize she already has in the form of the women in their 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s and even 30s that say, “Enjoy your kids! They grow up so fast …”

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.