The longer I live, the more of life's seasons I am able to experience. For much of my life I
have held onto the promise that "This too shall pass" because nothing lasts forever. That promise has gotten me through pretty much all of my pain to this point...and it has been true, it has all passed. Sometimes the suffering was short, other times it felt like an eternity as I went through it, but none of it really lasted forever.
As I write on here, write books, and write on social media I become more and more aware that in addition to wanting to spread awareness about abuse and violence, I also want to share hope. Yes I absolutely want to be a voice for the voiceless and a endless public service announcement educating the world. Sign me up! Count me in! But I want to do even more than that. I want to be a light in a dark world. I want to encourage the people who are kind enough to read what I write and I want to share tools that they can use to make their lives better. I will start with sharing about the season God is allowing me to walk through right now.
Do you have any idea how hard it is for someone like me to think good things about myself? Let me paint a backdrop for you...I grew up with a Mother that I never felt like I could please. She always found something to criticize I realize me for, no matter how well I did. Not only did my parents not go to my high school events, even though I went to a small school and was involved in everything, they didn't even go to my parent-teacher conferences. No one went to mine, because I went to my sister and brother's as if I was their parent. I oooed and awed at their clean desks and their school projects so that they felt like what they did in life mattered. I wanted them to feel the sense of accomplishment that I rarely felt. I went through a lot of abuse during my teen years which further programmed me for even more abusive relationships in my adult life. I could easily hear people tearing me down and I have torn myself down in my mind worse than anyone else over the years. I have had a couple of well meaning people try to tell me about my accomplishments and my value and that I was amazing, but I just couldn't hear it. And when I was able to, it didn't stick. I have developed a warped notion that I have to be producing in order to be valuable. It is safe to say that I do not toot my own horn much. If I allow myself to feel pride over what I have achieved, it is generally pretty short lived and followed immediately by self-degradation. (I'm working on that.) Now on to the season I'm walking through...
Have you ever read about the Proverbs 31 woman of the Bible? Proverbs chapter 31, verses 10-31 are a big description about what a woman of noble character looks like. When I was in junior high, my home-school curriculum was based off of it. It's a pretty high standard. Even in the Christian community I have heard the description dismissed as what a future mother-in-law wanted for her baby boy...more than any woman could ever do or be. Still, it is discussed as important because it's the longest description of what a woman should be that is found in the Bible. I always believed it was like reach for the stars and even if you miss, you'll still be among the clouds sort of a deal. That is, until yesterday when we went over it in church and I felt God telling me that it was me. ME!?!?!?!?! I am industrious...I've worked my own business for years. I am generally first to rise in my household and I rarely sit. I'm always doing things to take care of me and my children. For example, I painted our entire house, inside and out, before we moved in. It took me a couple of months, but now our home suits us well. My children also tell me that I'm the best mom ever, even though I screw up regularly. Never in my life did I expect to own that description of a woman, but yesterday I was given the gift of being able to see her in myself and I had a peaceful feeling that I am doing alright. I'm not sure how to explain how wonderful that is.
I also recently started reading Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. The entire book is about lies that she has believed in her life and how she has overcome them. I was listening to it (as an audio-book) yesterday as I worked. At one point, I laughed so hard I almost peed myself (which is always great). She has many good insights in there and I totally recommend it to women young and old. The part that I appreciated most yesterday was when she talked about being a mom, more specifically a working mom. As she shared her previous belief that she was a bad mom because she juggled work and family, I related to her so much. Thankfully, when she talked about letting go of the ideas of being a perfect pinterest worthy mom, I was actually able to let them go too. I was able to accept (for the first time in my life) that it's ok that I am not able to do EVERYTHING and do it to perfection as a mom. It's ok if I buy baked goods for the bake sale. It's not the end of the world if my dining room table is a catch all for papers and we eat in front of the TV more than I'd like. It's ok that sometimes I work later than I would like because I have never missed one of my child's parent-teacher conferences or sports games. I can't do everything, but I figure out the important stuff. I may not be like other moms, but I'm the exact mom that was chosen to raise my children! I hope that you can take some comfort in knowing that is true for you too.
One last thing that I realized last night as I was thinking about writing this... This weekend I was given another gift. My Mom gave me a card and in it she wrote that I am a great person and I'm doing a great job raising great kids all by myself. She wrote that she is proud of me and she loves me more than I know. I have to admit that it was two days after I got it that I really took that in. The person I spent so much time desperately trying to impress in my younger years, the same one that I decided I no longer cared to impress in my adult years, not only told me that she was proud of me, but she did it on something that I can look at over and over again to remind myself.
This post might sound like I'm bragging, but if you know me at all, you'll know that is not where my heart is. My heart is GRATEFUL that, at least in this moment, I can feel like I am doing alright...maybe for the first time in my life. If you are like me and have never really let anything good that you have done matter because you're always listening to the voices that say you're not enough, I hope that this article has given you permission to enjoy your own victories. God doesn't make trash. Even when we look at ourselves and can only see the mistakes, the bad choices, the abuse, the imperfections, and what we wish we were, I believe that He looks at us with love. Like me, YOU are much more valuable that you probably think. I hope that you can feel that today.