Just Say, “Thank You”

relaxed-498245_960_720Perhaps you have heard phrases such as, “under promise, over deliver” or “plan for the worst, but hope for the best”. Phrases like this are said by realists. They know unexpected things happen and therefore their goals, endpoints, or dreams don’t always have the desired outcome, so they plan upfront for a possible miscarriage of hope and expectation. This is wise in terms of business or finances, but in terms of most other areas, it is more detrimental than helpful. And admittedly, this is my default setting in relationships. After talking to many women, I believe it is for most of us; we deflect.

We meet someone and make excuses for why they shouldn’t or won’t like us or expect too much from us. In conversations, we dismiss compliments, minimize who we are, what we’re capable of, the things we have accomplished as well as successes we have earned– and on the same token we treasure those very things we hide from others. We worked hard for them. We even find our parts of our identity in them.

We undervalue our self-worth continuously—and when it comes to building friendships, it either weighs us down until we’re immobile and isolated or we timidly tip-toe our way into friendship, feeling our way around, deflecting—which, honestly tows a fine line between humbleness and pride—until we feel we are accepted and know to what level we are accepted.

The reasons we do this may vary from one woman or situation to another, but of the few women I know, we do it to beat others to their certain judgement of us. We know our weaknesses, so we point them out to others before they point them out to us or gossip about them behind our back. It’s a coping mechanism; a form of self-protection against our own insecurities, a way to control what people will think of us. It’s that whole, “if you can’t beat them, join them” anthem.

This helps no one. It belittles who God made us to be. He did not make us to be insecure, to make excuses, or even to try to win the approval of man. I know this in my head, but my actions reveal a different story.

Here’s a classic situation: I invite people over to my house. And even though I have cleaned profusely, cut and arranged fresh flowers, prepared a meal, the moment someone compliments something about my home, I make excuses for why their compliment isn’t really true. I might even beat them to the punch, if I see that they have noticed something unflattering. I point out how our house is in the remodeling stage and parts of it are unfinished, resembling the 70’s. I tell them that although I love decorating (And I do! If I did not go into teaching, I would have gone into interior design), I don’t really know what I am doing. I point out the miss-matched this and that or the…. In reality, I worked hard for that miss-matched item and I like that it’s slightly weird. I like that my house isn’t done being remodeled because I would miss dreaming and planning how I would fix up my fixer-upper. stamp-895383_960_720

I do this all the time. I struggle, I mean really struggle,  to accept a compliment (even if I really am having a good hair day!). I have a great friend who used to call me on this each and every time I would start to deflect. She would stop me mid-sentence and adamantly say, “Just say thank you”. This was hard for me. Saying thank you implied I agreed with the compliment, which wasn’t always true and even if it was true, I feared being mistaken as prideful. Still, I knew my continual rejection made others uncomfortable. They had gone out of their way to say something nice and I rejected it, which communicates disbelief and lack of trust in that person’s words. I don’t know about you, but I want my words to be taken seriously and as truth—they are an outward expression of my character.

So, I practiced. I know this sounds silly, but I did. As they say, “Fake it until you make it”. My mouth would say, “Thank you” while my head would be swimming in doubts. I literally had to remind myself of the Psalmist’s words, I am fearfully and wonderfully made; I know that full well”. (Psalm 139:14). Admittedly, I do not, yet, know that “full well”– though my heart longs to. I want to graciously accept His compliments and live boldly and unapologetically from that sacred place. And it is sacred, not something to discount.
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What has happened over the years of just saying “thank you” is I’ve learned to genuinely smile when someone sees something good in me. It doesn’t matter if they don’t have the back story or see the imperfections. What they see is good. They like it (or me). A complement is flattering and accepting. It reveals to us that we are not invisible, worthless, or discounted. We have been seen and appreciated, which is what we seek and continuously pray for year after year—sometimes through painful tears. God uses people to share His acceptance and love for us in countless ways and I am certain giving compliments is one of those ways.

The excuses we make are nothing short of toxic. It doesn’t matter if they’re based on fact or falsity. If they keep us from leaning into the truth that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, then our eyes on more on ourselves than on Christ. It is my prayer that God would seize my heart and help me to believe and live from who He says I am in Him, not in the world.

hands-1047634_960_720Thank You, Lord Jesus for never giving up on me; for loving me like You do; for finding me beautiful and special and delightful. Thank You for giving Yourself sacrificially on my behalf because You wanted me; saw value in me; knew me. Thank You Lord for caring for me, taking my burdens and shame. Thank You for forgiving me and wiping my slate clean—again. Thank You for your gift of eternal life with You. Thank You for loving me with an endless love.

I’m so glad He doesn’t come back to us with excuses as to why He doesn’t deserve our gratitude and praise. Can you imagine how we’d feel if He discounted our praises to Him?

Just Say Thank You

Rewriting Our “Ish-Tastic” Stories Pt 2

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Read: Rewriting Our “Ish-tastic” Past Pt. 1 Here

It’s OK that our stories are not in a neat and tidy packages.

Writing a new ending requires vulnerability first, owning the truth, and then allowing it to transform us. What I mean by that is that our stories don’t have to end when the lights go down, when the curtain swooshes to a close on that event or season of life. Just like some letters include a post script (P.S.), the “One more thought”, the “Oh, by the way” comment, our stories can include an “Oh, and….”, etc.. I love a good Post Script!

Post Scripts

This learning more about ourselves, understanding our emotions and how they play out in the world around us is HUGE, everything really. It impacts every single relationship and interaction we have with others.

Let me dissect this a little. When we revisit our stories, we can move from a place of dwelling on the past and all the negativity that it is certainly due– to understanding who we are now or who we want to become. I cannot say this enough or express this more than if I was shouting it from a mountain top: We are NOT what has been done to us, or what we have done to others, or even our environment. They shape us certainly, but that shape can be heated up (by being vulnerable enough to revisit it) and be remolded by putting our life, with all its pains and regrets…, into our Maker’s hands.

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify” Malachi 3:3.
This is the rewrite process. The skimming of dross from the silver that we are. Our Refiner sits until the work is done. He does not leave us no matter what garbage surfaces. He will purify us. He promises in Phil 1:6 that “He will finish the good work He begins in us”. He never gives up. He plays the leading role in our stories because our stories are a part of His greater story; part of  His greater plan.

Christ doesn’t dole out love or hope as resources to be used up. He inhabits Love. He doesn’t mete out mercy or grace. He incarnates Mercy and Grace. He doesn’t define truth. He is Truth. Love isn’t merely a thing. It is the presence of God indwelling us, pouring Himself into and through us. Peace is not a thing that God gives, but a serene abiding in Him. We rest in assurance of things to come because He is Hope. We know grace because the Spirit of Grace dwells within us” Jerusha Clark.

When we allow this beautiful truth to wash over us and to seep into the smallest, darkest parts of our stories, can we possibly fathom how Christ views us as clothed in Christ’s righteousness? Do we get a sense of the look in His tender eyes as His gaze rests upon us in our weakness, in our brokenness? Do we sense a Love that knows no limits?

It is imperative to accept this as Truth to move from a place of hiding and/shame/regret to a place where we allow our vulnerability to lead us into writing a new courageous ending to our stories. writing-828911_960_720

It is here, we move from our first responses (of hiding, glazing over the pain, ignoring, over compensating, etc.) to a deeper understanding of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is here that we write our Post Script.

My post Script

In my healing, I gained a better understanding of who I am and Whose I am, but honestly, I am still very much in progress. It has been easier to start with what I’m NOT, which eventually cleared the way to see who I AM.
I am NOT a victim.
I am NOT someone to use up and throw away.
I am NOT worthless.
I am NOT weak.
I am NOT broken.
I am NOT damaged.
I am NOT ugly.
I am NOT unlovable.
I am NOT unacceptable.
I am NOT damned

Some of these took a little longer to believe than others. In thinking about what I was Not, I needed to define who I was or who I wanted to be. To be completely honest, I had to ask the Lord to help me to both accept my identity rooted in Him and to live it out with each and every inhale and exhale. I couldn’t even ask Him for one day at a time. I needed His assurance with each breath! I have genuinely wrestled with my significance found IN Him (no one else)–This is a life long journey and as I have taken one small step at a time, I have clung desperately to the promise that God loves me. He is FOR me, not AGAINST me. If I did not believe this,  I easily would have become enslaved to my distorted thinking; and I would have decorated my invisible, safe, but oh-so-lonely cage and remained where my pain has held me.

“You will know the Truth; and the Truth will set you free” John 8:32.

I AM a Child of God.
I AM unconditionally, unfathomably loved.
I AM incomparably valuable.
I AM dearly wanted.
I AM whole in Christ.
I AM unconditionally loved.
I AM beautiful.
I AM accepted.
I Am made new.
I AM complete in Christ.

I discovered many more attributes as I began rewriting my story. But this gives you the idea. Through my experiences, I have learned Who Christ is to me. I understand more of His beautiful, gracious character. I see Him more clearly. I feel His presence. I hear His voice. I know Him. I really know Him—I was in great need and He was the only One who could meet those needs, and supply the healing I so desperately needed. My heart gushes as I attempt to put into words my love for Him. He is my happy ending. Without Him, it would just be me. And I am not enough on my own. He is my Alpha and Omega; my Beginning and my End!
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The flip side:  We can choose to stuff those emotions and all that pain. We’ve tried to, haven’t we? And we have discovered it doesn’t actually disappear. Instead, it compounds, seemingly builds up until it owns us, defines us. I know far too many adults who live in their childhoods and cannot, no matter their efforts, move forward. They are stuck. And if I can be so bold: we can only blame our pasts for what happened. We can only blame ourselves if we give it the power to hold us captive. God desperately desires freedom and not bondage for us. We need to own our stories and allow Christ to reveal the ending He had in mind the whole time. We are worth it. We really are!

“When we said yes to God, He declared our eternal victory” Jerusha Clark.


Related Posts:
“Badassery” Friendships Pt. 1
“Badassery” Friendships Pt 2
From Where I Stand
Nostalgic or Transformative; Our Stories Are Powerful

“Badassery” Friendships Pt 2

Read Badassery Friendships Pt 1 Here

IMG_3111Until I met HER!

I’ll admit, I was completely taken aback by her at first. I mean, after all, she introduced herself to me as, “I’m not a stalker, I promise, but I know you from Facebook. I recognized you by your hair”. I am sure you can picture my wide-eyes and curiously big (not so real) smile as she proceeded to fill me in, which by the way, sounded far less creepy as she went on! We talked for probably a full 20 minutes, cutting some of the fat from the meat already, which left me intrigued by this seemingly confident gal. We parted ways and that was that. Until the next week, when our co-op brought us together again. Again, we talked endlessly and I found I wished our time didn’t have to end.

I liked her.

There was something different about her. I didn’t see her for several weeks, but she crossed my mind several times and so I stalked her on Facebook, because honestly, isn’t that what we do now? Be honest! I sent her a message and coffee ensued a few days later. We talked as if we had known each other forever, but my inner voice warned me not to get too close because she would just leave once she knew things about me or over the first disagreement or something… (I wish I could say that we out grow our pesky insecurities, but it seems they rear their ugly little heads in unexpected ways, like this)

A few weeks pass with texts and calls and we eventually meet for coffee at a crack dealership, I mean, bookstore! With Americanos in hand, we strolled the aisles sharing our thoughts about this book and that book, when she abruptly stopped and insisted she was buying me Glennon Doyle Melton’s “Carry On Warrior”. Uuuuhhh, there was no way my pride was going to allow her to buy me this book, so I bought it myself and read it cover to cover in a few short days (In case you aren’t reading between the lines here, I totally recommend this book).

The next time we met, she assertively said, “OK, this is how this is going to work. We’re going to be friends. We’re going to be vulnerable with one another and it’s going to be uncomfortable and we’re going to be OK with that, OK?” Sunned, because no in all the world talks like this (do they?). I think I only nodded my head and took another sip of my coffee. I mean, what is the proper response to that? Was it bold and daring? Yeah. Was it risky as hell? Yeah. She’s courageous; perhaps the most courageous person I know.

I’ll admit, at that point she only knew what I wanted her to know about me: the good stuff, the flattering stuff. I have shame, regret, and so much more stuff— and as much as I cringe when I share some of my stories, they are also the very ones that have shaped me into the woman I am today. To not share these parts of us not only dishonors our journey and the hard work accomplished, but also the One who enabled us to work through the muck and the mire. And it is through these very stories that Christ continues to shape and refine us more into His likeness.BestFriends

So, I risk it.

I bare my soul right off the bat. I face my incredible discomfort; completely willing to endure another disappointment because deep down I know I am worth this kind of friendship. I know I am worth the risk. She is worth the risk. And you know what she did? She cried with me. She hugged me.

Brene Brown points out that “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t choose both”.

best_friends_for_girlsFriendships go through ups and downs. It requires work on both parties. It requires legitimately putting ourselves out there. It means being willing to embrace where our friends are, where they have been, and where they dream to go no matter the wounds that still sometimes fester, scars that remind them of battles both lost and won, and struggles they won’t have to work through alone because you will be by their side and vice versa.

I’m not good at surface-y friendships, but I’m learning to be pretty good at this “badassery” kind!

“Badassery” Friendships Pt. 1

As an introvert, I like to pretend I’m a badass; more in my head than in reality, mind you. I think it’s a worthy adjective for those people living life “up here”, not afraid to boldly speak the truth– in love, of course, and even if tpulseras-con-botones-paso-a-pasohey fear rejection, they risk being vulnerable with others. It is this select group people who see others where they are, accepts them there, doesn’t try to change them, but simply desires to walk life’s journey alongside us–not for our sake or for theirs, but because it’s LOVE; and they’re in the business of living life courageously with others, no matter the cost.

Badassery”, as Brene Brown has so eloquently dubbed this paraphrased description, turns so much of what we have believed about friendships upside down, when she talks about how we become courageous when we are willing to be vulnerable. Ironic, isn’t it, because we often wait for courage to somehow happen upon us, sturdy-ing our stance, before we are willing to lower our guard and allow ourselves to be fully exposed. She states that it is quite the opposite; that it’s in our vulnerability, we become courageous.

Let’s be honest, courage can quickly deflate when our vulnerability is just hanging out there for anyone to see and potentially trample on. It doesn’t feel good when we have taken off the proverbial life vest, and taken a gigantic step away from our warm and comfy self-protection. It hurts to not have our vulnerability accepted and/or even reciprocated. It doesn’t throw caution to the wind, however. There are safeguards to put in place, because we know not all people are safe people. And by the same token,

Vulnerability is the birthplace of many of the fulfilling experiences we long for—love, belonging, joy, creativity, and trust–to name a few—the process of regaining our emotional footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged” (Brene Brown).

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As an introvert, surface talk slays me, literally sucking the life out of me oh so s-l-o-w-l-y! When I share life with you, I want to know the deep, gooey, icky, details of what makes you tick. I resonate with you in this place. I can breathe in this place. I don’t know how to breathe when talking only about the Seahawks game–and not because I’m not a major fan–but because it doesn’t tell me anything about YOU, about what you’re learning, struggling with, rejoicing in… I want to live those moments with you, feel what you feel.

To be honest, I’m not awesome with friendships. I’ve never really learned how to do it. For the most part, many left me unfulfilled, some were one-sided, where I was the only one to reach out, while others remained surface-y. I always believed there was so much more to be experienced in friendships and yet rarely did I meet others who were willing to genuinely live life with all its ups and downs and everything in between moments together.

Friends do things together, talk about this and that, encourage, and pray with one another. Friends share stories of young and old. They share dreams. They hold one another’s children, clean their kitchens, pick up rice at the store for you because they know you need it before you do. Friends offer to go to your mammogram appointment with you when you’ve found a lump on “Lefty”. Friends “love you thru crazy” and sunshiny moments. They, themselves are not afraid to put themselves out there because they know that no matter what they do or don’t do in life, they are enough as they are–no matter what that looks like– and so are you. They are not defined by what they do, but by who they are, and Whose they are. They somehow have caught on to the truth that they are “worthy of love; worthy of belonging” and this knowledge impacts their every action, including friendships, even if it costs them something.

And although I am still wrapping my mind around my identity in Christ, I have somehow always known, as you have, that we were made to belong; we were made for community; for friendship that knows no bounds.

friendship-quotes-4-3452If we have been fortunate enough to receive such a precious friendship, we know it didn’t happen by chance. Somewhere along the line, we were intentional about genuinely sharing life together, even the messy parts; the parts that could potentially cause others to run the other way. We risked heartbreak. We shared our stories, not glazing over the hard parts, but allowed the areas where shame still loiters from time to time to be seen; for the raw emotions of regret, embarrassment, anger, resentment…to be shared.

For another to see us incomplete, still in the healing process…this is vulnerability at its best and only one of two things will result: intimacy or disappointment.

I’ve risked more times than I can count; shared my vulnerable little soul with others with the hopes of growing deep and lasting friendships built upon something so substantial, so solid, AKA Truth and Trust and have been left at the proverbial alter, so to speak. This has caused me to play a role I was never created to play, one filled with shallow pleasantries. It is the accepted role. Too much beyond that just seems weird, if groundwork hasn’t been laid, which requires risk. For an introvert, I’ve been good at playing this role, but it’s lonely. It’s left me at an impasse: Do I keep trying (risking) or do I accept my seeming lot in life? I am certain we all have a pit-stop here and what we do next is pivotal.  To be honest, I’d been hurt so often that protection seemed the best choice and I had resolved, that I was OK with surface-y friendships.

Until I met HER!

“Badassery” Friendships Pt 2