I found it hard to sit down to write this article. I guess it is because I am experiencing the tension between being vulnerable (denying yourself daily), and being my own story teller. I am learning a lot about myself as I use this opportunity to write to you. I will attempt to articulate my life experiences in such a way that both you and I understand that I am still a work in progress. I am still on a journey to find the perfect rhythm between my own brokenness, my recovery and my specific part in God’s story.
To discover the way forward, I needed to look back to where I have come from. This, I guess, presented me with an obstacle. I get irritated when I think about my previous ways and I find it hard to acknowledge that I wasted so many precious years living in discord with God and myself.
What held me back?
I made a lot of decisions based on what was expected of me. I denied my heart. I gave other people power over my life, by focusing on how they treated me. I was defined by others. I was a people pleaser. I constantly adapted my own behaviour to ensure that everyone else was happy. I sacrificed myself. I felt the need to perform to be accepted. I didn’t feel worthy. I was a pleasant person, but I was also a fake person.
How did I push the reset button?
I can’t control what other people think. It is unhealthy to compromise my own health and happiness because I seek approval from others. When I gained perspective, I realized (and this was quite a shock) that other people are NOT thinking things about me anyway! They are too busy with their own lives and shortcomings.
“We would worry less about what others think of us if we realize how seldom they do.” Ethel Barret
I found freedom in not knowing what other people thought of me and by accepting that their opinions didn’t matter! It was a relief to realize that other people’s opinions couldn’t hurt me … I chose a life that is pleasing to God, and pleasing to me. This means that I drive a car that I can afford; I live a life that I can maintain, irrespective of what others think about me. I might not impress you, but I am loved by those who accept me for who I am.
I had to create healthy boundaries in my life. When my decisions about my own life became focused and intentional, it became easier to distinguish between my own chosen path and the crazy fluff that everyone else wants for you.
Where am I now?
I am a new creation and Christ lives in me.
“I have been crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
I was blind, dead and bound, but now I live! I was made new, and this new self can be expressed through my unique personality.
“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:9-10
“We all have our quirks and unique perspectives. The more relaxed you become with your own differences, the more comfortable you will start to be just being YOU. Celebrate being different, off the beaten path, a little on the weird side…your own special creation. If you find yourself feeling like a fish out of water, by all means find a new river to swim in. But DO NOT change who you are. BE who you are.”
I want to be real. I have fallen on my face a few times! This life is a struggle and we are surrounded by broken people. But I am excited! I am looking forward to a perfect future, where a greater reality awaits us!
“We are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet appeared.” 1 John 3:2
I often struggle because I don’t want to appear prideful, but God has given me wisdom when I have had to work through my pain. He has given me His hope, to lift my eyes from my dusty feet, to look towards the horizon where He will meet me. He has created me in my uniqueness, He has a plan and purpose for my life.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
I want to encourage you to be authentic. Christian authenticity enables us to focus on others and to contribute towards the good of our communities.
“Christian authenticity is others-focused. We live transparently, not to unload our own burdens and thus walk more lightly alone, but to intentionally share the burdens of others and carry them to the same grace that liberated us.”
I want to challenge you. Do more. Do more than just exist. Go out and live!
Encouragement for February
- Build your competence. Commit to learning a new skill this year. You will gain confidence, and you will feel good.
- Surround yourself with people that are authentic. Find someone that doesn’t care what other people think. Volunteer your time to serve … and learn!
- Pull yourself out of your comfort zone. Greet other people first!
- Practise breaking social norms. Question the modus operandi and be ready to face the music. Have fun with your life!
I want to dedicate this article to every single parent attending functions all on their own; to the Gogo raising young children without support; to every person wearing clothes that they absolutely love; to everyone wearing a hat because of cancer or alopecia; to the child standing up for someone being bullied and to my daughter Charlotte, who walks barefoot in public!
“People respond well to authentic genuine people, even if they are odd.”