Monday, February 2, 2015

Am I Enough?

Insecurities suck. 

'How does she have the energy to DO all that with her kids, AND cook from scratch?'
'How does she juggle all that at work?'
'I should volunteer there too.
I wish I was good at that.'
'God would probably be happier with me if I were more like her.'

Yep, I've thought those too. And more.

And getting past them? Ugh, almost as painful as holding onto them. Almost.

Overcoming insecurities isn't exclusively hard for women. Men definitely struggle with them too. But it often seems particularly difficult for us. So many of the things we desire to be or do, seem to always come so much easier for someone else. 
But in reality, we sabotage ourselves don't we? I mean, on an insecurity scale of 1 to 10, we don't seem to need any help twisting the knob up to about 15 all on our own. Yes, the enemy does know our weaknesses quite well. But eventually, we're the ones doing the majority of the work. It comes so easily to us too, almost like second nature. And then what do we do? Why we consciously choose to play one of the most extremely dangerous and competitive games there is. A game, that evidently must be able to handle as many players as want to participate, called 'Comparisons'.

You know that game, right? I do. We've moved our tokens around the game board, strategies of how we can land on the same spaces the women we wish we were more like do. It's easy to see what to aim for. After all, they always seem to be one step ahead. We lay down a little more of what we have in our hand to bet with. They move. We feel envious, lacking, and so we frantically move too, trying to get the same results. And if it isn't working we panic, fearing that we're being left behind. We might even cheat a little then. Pretend we have exactly what they do so we can move along side them. But before long we find we're totally bankrupt, and we justify the striving and struggling that got us to wager our sanity, peace, joy, and more by quoting Proverbs 31  
"See" we shout, "SHE does it ALL!" 
Wait... what? 

Hold up a minute. This isn't a mandatory list of things we have to do to be worthy of being loved. This is the biblical ideal of the kind of godly woman King Samuel's mother was telling him he should be seeking. It shows us a woman shouldn't let her life be dictated by every little thing. And I guarantee Samuel's own mother could not accomplish it all simultaneously - not even half of it!
NEWSFLASH – these are examples. Examples of how a godly woman is more concerned with being giving, being trustworthy, using whatever skills she may have to be supportive, contributing to the well being of her family/community, being willing to jump in and provide in her own way where needed, being forgiving, and showing grace. It isn't a check list of daily actions. It should encourage us all to find a balance in our lives that allows us to be soft, strong, nurturing, and independent in the best ways! Notice her focus is on the betterment of everyone else but not at her own expense. And not to make herself feel better or more important.

But I get it. Oh boy do I ever. I've been there. I've played that game more times than I can begin to count. My whole life. And I see the things that many of you share on Facebook, and hear in your conversationsYour hearts reveal many of you find yourselves there often. You’re playing the game like a champ.
For some of you, insecurities are very new to you. Circumstances not of your choosing have unexpectedly sidelined you. Your confidence has been shaken in a way it never has before. Your first health, finance, career, or relationship crisis has hit. You're reeling, and unsure. These are new feelings for you..
For some it's been a battle for some time. You've been in a dark place for a while now. And have before too. It's a second, or third crisis that's found you once again sitting down at the table to play the game. And unfortunately its getting easier.
For some, it’s not just a battle, but the war of a lifetime. Since you were a little girl you haven't been able to get past the circumstances throughout your life that have produced your feelings of being lonely - even in a crowd, of feeling used, abandoned, undervalued, unloved, and maybe even invisible. You know the game inside and out. You'll never need to give the directions another glance. It's as if you were born knowing how to play, dice in hand, with the question already formed on your lips... "Am I Enough?"

I'm extremely familiar with the game of  'Comparisons'. Many experiences - some of my choosing, but so many that were definitely not - have left me struggling with feelings of unworthiness, never being enough, feeling less than. For as long as I can remember I always felt I was two or three times around the board behind everyone else playing. Those are all stories for another time maybe :)
Not that there aren't days my mind still doesn’t take me there - but most days I think I can say Gods very real forgiveness and unconditional love are helping me gain ground on them.
But you can never let your guard lower, and become complacent thinking you have it all down. Never assume that you have walked away from the game for the last time. #youknowwhattheysayyoudowhenyouassume ;)

The last few years have brought a new crisis or two. But it turns out the most life altering one, in a long time anyway, would come to a head over the last 12 months. I would have recognized just how serious the red flags were had I been paying closer attention. Over the last 6 years or so it seems my body had been screaming as loudly as it could to try and tell me that all was not right. But in all honesty, I think if not for circumstances that I did not choose that slowed my life FOR me, I may not have listened until the screaming stopped. And my body completely gave out.
The fact that I was sick, A LOT, weaker than I used to be, gaining weight steadily, suffering debilitating headaches, that I could hardly get out of bed some days and felt like I'd been hit by a truck most of them, wasn't just because I worked 60 hours many weeks. It wasn't even that on top of that I was heavily involved in women’s ministry, and was a wife and mom.
BUT, because I did all that I chalked it up to normal for someone who juggles those things. So I kept juggling for far too long. I mean, if I didn't do it all who would? #imsurethatdoesntsoundfamiliartoanyone
So I decided that the physical fall out was something I would just have to suck up and deal with. 
But 12 months ago I wasn’t working like that anymore. And instead of things getting better now I couldn't walk very far (to the mailbox and back had me needing to take some very deep breaths and hurting). I couldn't lift very much, couldn't sleep well at all, and now needed naps daily - sometimes more than one. I was in pain a lot, sore, stiff, still having numerous migraines, was forgetful, and felt like I was living in a sort of fog all the time. I've never felt more useless, worthless, depressed, and frustrated. I didn't even have the strength to TRY and measure up anymore.
But the guilt? Oh yeah, it was still there. And that made me insecure wondering if people thought I was faking, or wondering if it they thought it was all in my head (because I wondered that myself more than once), or if they thought I was just lazy. 
Then one day an allergy appointment of all things, with someone who listened VERY closely to some answers I gave to some pretty standard questions, began putting 2 and 2 together, And she set me on a path that eventually discovered and answered so many questions I didn't even know to ask. And the red flags began to finally make sense. And eventually a plan began to come together.
I have seen more doctors in the last year than I have in the last 10 years combined I think. Some I dropped like a hot potato as I learned more about my own body, as I learned that the "normal for people with your issues" still wasn't MY normal. I learned who truly listened and who didn't. 
When I discovered what the very real problems with my health were (hypothyroid w/goiter, and 2 separate auto immune diseases), what needed to happen for me to heal as best I could, and that there would also simply be a new normal for me I needed to accept - I was happy to know what was so wrong with me, but was even more depressed at what that said about my new life.
My husband, friends, coworkers, my family - would they be disappointed? Would they understand? Could they make allowances, or would they tire of them? And I asked over and over and over again - "Why God??? This isn’t how I wanted my life to go! I'm not even 50 yet and this is crazy!"
I was focused so much on what negative things I thought others would feel, that I didn't even consider how it might actually be exciting to them that there could now be a plan of action for me.
But then my sweet husband began showing me how much it meant to him. Me feeling better was all he was worried about. Not the weight. Not that he had to make sure he didn’t plan too many things in a day, or even a week, for us to do. Not that he would have to count on me less to help with certain strenuous activities around the house for awhile because they cause me too much pain. Not that we have to find things that allow me to not sit, or stand, too long. Not even that our diets had to change - AGAIN, removing some delicious things, normally very healthy, because they cause my body inflammation. All he cared about was that we do what we need to do for me to feel better, so our lives together would be as full and joyful as possible! 
His refection of loving me how my Father loves me began to sink in.
No matter the reasons, and how frustrating it is at times, I realize that even if my daily life has to be very different than many others, it's okay. Stress makes my issues flare, becoming over tired, not moving enough, being too cold or too hot, too much or too little of some vitamins/minerals, etc. It’s now definitely not about what someone else thinks, or me feeling guilty for my circumstances and what I can't do. God wants me to do what I need to, to be as healthy as possible. 

It really all comes down to how, and who, I spend time worshipping. God is trying, so very patiently, to show me that my mind, heart, and body ALL are individually His. 
So for me now, its way more important that I begin balancing my time & activities in ways that produce better physical health and emotional well being for me. That is HOW I can begin to best serve Him through my family, friends, church, and community. When I do the healthiest things for me possible, I can continue to do the things He has prepared for me for as long as possible. Not what someone else does. When I'm striving for a life and image other than my own, I'm trying to achieve what was never intended for me. 
Will I worship God by carrying for the mind heart and body He created just for me, listening to the signals actually telling me what it needs or shouldn't be doing? Or will I worship an idol, something or someone I wasn't designed to be?
Will I continually regret what I can't seem to do as well as “she” or “they” can, feeling guilty and less than? Or will I gratefully accept that I'm just different for a reason, doing what I can with the things that make me uniquely ME, and worship God thankful for what I can do? 
I'm learning that when I do what's necessary for me to feel my best, that's what allows me to more consistently do more for others and enjoy more of my life.  
I focus on what I can do, what I'm good at, instead of making myself crazy trying to measure up to someone else. It doesn’t mean I don’t try new things. It just means I don’t pressure myself to succeed in all things.

You may not have my same health limitations, maybe you have different ones. Or maybe different talents, skills, passions, amounts of time available, responsibilities, and interests - but can't seem to help but want the others ones you don't have. The point is that who and where you are is your reality. Letting your insecurities drag you into a fight that is not meant to be yours, is a conflict you cannot win. Feeling guilty for what you do or don't do for yourself or others, based on your abilities, is a battle you are not supposed to fight. It's not real. Take care of what you've been given, to do your absolute best with what you have. 

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10

I don't know what convinces you to sit at the table to play the game. But if your legs are growing numb from being there for far too long, isn't it time you stood up, got some feeling back in them again, and walked away? 

Joyful on the Journey,


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