I have a confession…

I am self-absorbed.

Can I get an amen? (As in, you feel me and you’re self-absorbed too?)

I’ve always thought I was a very caring and empathetic person. Over the last few years I have hardened myself to the people around me. I fill my schedule with things to help other people. From the outside (and in my mind) I am not self-absorbed.

But, when you take a closer look the truth is revealed. It’s kind of ugly.

I sell Thirty-One. I love it because I get to spend time out of the house, aka a mommy break, and I like having extra income so I can buy this and that.  When I write it out, I hate it. What if it sounded more like: I sell Thirty-One to invest in the lives of women around me and to offer them the opportunity to gain self-confidence by growing their own business, and the extra income is just icing on the cake.  That would be something I could be proud of.

I head up the children’s ministry and sing in the worship band at my church. I enjoy stepping up to fill roles that need to be filled. I like to hear people tell me how well I’m doing. I like it when people tell me they enjoyed my singing. I also enjoy making a difference in the lives of children and worshipping Jesus. But what if I could say this: I have a passion to see children learn more about God and enjoy coming to a safe and fun environment and I love to help lead worship because I want to help other people engage in an intimate experience with Jesus.

I write this blog. I love to hear that someone enjoyed my writing. I write to get things off my chest. I try to sound like I know what I’m talking about (ha!). What if I could say: I write to give others, Christian and non-Christian, encouragement and perspective; to help them find their desire to know Jesus more; to let them know they are not alone in their imperfections; and most of all to glorify God.

I’m only talking about things I do, not the things that I am — wife, mother, daughter, aunt, extra mom to some awesome youth. If I were to go through those and analyze my motives they would probably be very similar to the ones I’ve listed above.

It’s not possible to be completely selfless so that is not the goal I am striving for. I want to be intentional about the relationships I nourish, to be diligent in serving others through my positions, and to help connect others to the love of God. At the end of my life what I did for me won’t matter. What will matter will be the difference I have made in the lives of those around me.

Would you stop and think about your motives and intentions? Are you more self-absorbed than you realized? It’s ok, you aren’t alone. Let’s all work to be less self-absorbed and more aware of those around us and how we can impact them.

God, thank you for showing me where I fall short. Help me to be less self-absorbed and more heaven-absorbed. Use me to change the world around me, not for my glory, but yours.  Amen.

I’m still working on allowing myself to be good enough this week. I hope you are, too.

As I’ve been giving myself grace I’ve been thinking about people and how we are connected.

There are a few things in life that connect us all together. When you look around you it may seem like the only thing you have in common with the rest of the world is the fact that you were born. If you look deeper I guarantee you will find more things.

When I look around I see one emotion that connects us all.

Fear.

For some fear is crippling. Their ability to function on a daily basis is affected. For some it’s just a quiet whisper in the back of their mind.

For me, it’s a nagging reminder every day.

I have these big dreams, big things I feel like God is calling me to do but my fear is frequently in my ear. It tells me why taking the next step is scary or why other people wouldn’t believe in my dream. It’s not easy to be confident when you have a constant fear.

But like I said, it is something that binds us all together. If you were to ask any random person on the street if they have ever felt or experienced fear they would say yes. It is a part of life, something we all have at some point.

The thing that separates us is the way we deal with it.

When we allow fear to consume us we might as well be paralyzed. Fear can have such a stronghold over our lives that we never reach our full potential. How sad would it be at the end of our lives to know that we didn’t accomplish everything we could have because we let our fear of doing something control us?

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3

When I can put this verse into action I am able to overcome my fears. I can take that next step in my calling, I can ask someone for help, I can take on another project, I can raise my kids the way I believe, and I can have better relationships with others. Instead of wallowing in my fears of the judgment of others when I put myself out there I will trust that God’s plans are greater than mine, even when they make me uncomfortable.

This isn’t some magic formula I’m trying to sell you. The only way I can overcome fear is with God’s help. I have tried to do it my way, but the fear never leaves. I have seen people I love try to tame their fears on their own and the fears only grew stronger. When we put our trust in God the fear may not go away completely but he will help us overcome it.

Don’t let the fears of life rob you from doing the thing God has called you to do. When you are afraid, trust in him. Let him fight the fears with you. When you see a friend or loved one battling fear in their lives, remember it is an emotion that we all experience. Don’t judge them because their fear might look different from yours. Give them grace and encourage them to trust God, too.

God, help me to not be overcome by my fears. Help me to put my trust in you. I know you are greater than any fear I may have. Show me how I can control my fears instead of them controlling me. Amen.

I have this word, this idea, that nags at me daily. It digs down deep into the very core of who I am. I have written about it before but I still can’t shake it.

Perfection.

Perfect.

If I don’t think I will succeed, and not even just succeed but excel, at something I don’t try. There are some things I do without that perfect seal of approval but I question and doubt how well I do.

One of those things is singing in the worship band at my church. Perfection is far from attainable for me in that regard. If I’m honest, I struggle with the confidence to do it because I know people are going to know I’m not perfect.

When I am brave and try something new I am so critical of myself and my success. The goal is always perfection, good enough is never good enough.

The funny thing is, I don’t hold other people to this ridiculous standards. I give them grace when they mess up. If they aren’t perfect I try to be very understandable.

Where does this notion of perfection come from? My parents never raised me to think that perfect was the only way to be. But I did learn at an early age what I could do to get praise. Being “smart” got me praise. Making good grades got me praise. At some point I decided being the good girl would get me praise. So I did these things.

As I got into my 20s things changed. My grades were not so good, I wasn’t always acting like a “good girl” and I questioned what I thought of myself. When I lost my perfect label (in my own mind) it shattered my self-confidence.

Somewhere along the way, the media swept in to teach me about perfection. How, even what I thought was “perfect” was no where near perfect. I became so critical of myself. What I said, what I did, how I looked, what other people thought of me. Attaining perfection in these areas became more important than who I was.

I still struggle in those areas. But as I said before if I don’t think I can do it perfectly I don’t even try. I dream about being perfect in those areas, what it would look like, what it would feel like.

I heard something this past weekend. I’ve been chewing on it all week trying to let it sink it.

When God was finished creating man he looked at it and said it was very GOOD.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31

Did you catch that? God said it was very good. He said I am very good. He never said it was perfect. If even my creator didn’t call me perfect why do I try to attain this imaginary idea of perfection?

That frees me to just be me. The very good creation he made me to be. I can take the weight of perfection off my shoulders. I don’t have to reach some bizarre standards that I thought God might have wanted me to.

You are free to be you. Perfection is a lie. Just be good, very good.

I envy those parents who can live with their rose colored glasses intact. Mine fell off approximately two days after I found out I was pregnant with my first, and I haven’t been able to put them back on since.

I barely got to enjoy the excitement of finding out I was pregnant with our first child before what my doctor called a threatened miscarriage began. I’m not sure how attached other mothers are at that point but I was all in. I was in love with this little baby growing inside of me. The thought of losing that baby before I even got to see or hold it was heart breaking. Thankfully everything turned out fine and I went on to have more complications, but a healthy baby in the end.

After Hannah was born she had a few issues and lots of test, but after all of that she was healthy. And perfect.

I would do anything and everything in my powers to keep her that way.

Then baby number two came along. I’ve already written about many of the struggles with her, but in a nutshell there were a few days after she was born that I thought I was going to lose her.

Now that both are here and in a healthy place, I wish I could say I can put those rose colored glasses back on. But I can’t.

Just this past weekend, Sadie was sick and the doctors thought there might be a chance of a joint infection or some unknown issue. I probably panicked a little more than most parents because I am terrified of her being really sick again.

Then yesterday, Hannah fell off her toy and flat on her back, hitting her head on the floor pretty hard. Some parents might just hug them for a bit and tell them to shake it off. Me? I’m worrying about brain damage. (She was fine)

Although their lives are different I’ve still thought I was going to lose each of them for a couple days. I never want to feel that way again. So I’m very protective, almost over-protective of them. I don’t want anyone or anything to hurt my babies.

I’m realizing though that I will never be able to protect them from everything. Part of being a parent is raising them and sending them out into the world. We all have to trust that we are doing the best for them. Yes, something bad might happen to them. But I can’t live each day as if I’m waiting for it to happen.

For me, I put my trust in God. I believe that he has a greater purpose for their lives, and I trust in his plan. I hope with everything in me that my children outlive me, but if that is not his plan he will give me the strength I need to get through that.

If you are a parent that has had their rose colored glasses stripped from them I hope you are learning with me to stop waiting for something bad to happen.  So many precious moments pass right by while we worry what could be. Let’s focus on living in the here and now with these sweet babies we have been blessed with!

 

I’ve only been on an airplane 4 times in my life. If you’ve been on a plane before you know the drill. Board the plane, get your belongings settled, and then the flight attendant goes over the safety instructions.

I’ve never thought much about them, other than making sure I have them memorized in case I the plane was in an emergency situation. 🙂

But, there is one instruction that I have been thinking about recently. If the oxygen masks drop down you are supposed to put yours on before you help anyone else get theirs own.

The last time I flew I was not a mother, but now that I am I can’t imagine wanting to put mine on first. I would want to make sure they were safe and taken care of first and foremost. However, if there was a true emergency and I didn’t put mine on first I would be putting my life and my children’s lives at risk.

What about my spiritual oxygen mask?

I over-commit myself for many reasons. I love to help, I have many interests, and I have a hard time saying no. Sometimes I put my personal time with God on the back burner. I don’t always mean to, I just let it happen by default.

As a Christian it is my responsibility to spend time with God. As a mother and someone in a leadership position at my church, it is my responsibility to make sure I’m taking care of myself spiritually first.

I have to put my spiritual oxygen mask on before I can help anyone else with theirs.

Before I can teach my children about Jesus, before I can lead a stranger to Christ, before I can prepare a children’s church lesson, before I can speak into the lives of our youth, and before I can share on this blog, I need to make sure my mask is on and secure.

I haven’t been doing a great job of that lately. This weekend I’m going to work on putting my spiritual oxygen mask on first. Maybe then I will be able to have a bigger impact on those around me.

To do that, I have to have a plan. I know myself. I get busy and then the end of the day comes and I fall asleep reading. I’m going to read first thing in the morning, before I do anything else. I also have a devotional that I really l enjoy and I’m going to integrate that in my plan as well.

Do you put your spiritual oxygen mask on before you try to help other’s with theirs? If not, what are you going to do to change that?

Heavenly Father, help us to remember the priority of helping ourselves before we help others. We want to help others know you but we have to be right with you before anything else. Thank you for always loving us through our failures and shortcomings. Help us be more like you. Amen.