Suck it up and put your big girl panties on.
This has been the mantra of my life. The sentiment behind it? Things could always be worse and there is nothing hard work can’t solve. I’ve repeated this statement to myself most of my 40 years and heaven only knows how often I repeated it to others. It’s the kind of statement meant to bolster and drive. It has propelled me forward in numerous situations, both personal and professional, allowing me to “check off” whatever was before me. It’s the kind of statement that provides the grit, the traction, you need to keep moving forward beyond the point of exhaustion and reason. It got me through my undergraduate program while working two jobs, semesters of law school with 3 jobs, and the first several years of marriage, mothering, and step-parenting. It’s the kind of statement that separated the weak from the strong. I was one of the strong.
And then this past week I attended the She Speaks Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. I listened to Shauna Niequist speak during one of the main sessions. I’d never read any of her books before. Honestly, I don’t think I’d even heard her name before then and yet, for the first time in my life, I felt like there was someone out there who understood how I thought. She was speaking my language and the way she talked sounded like something I’d say to myself. Her message of work and working harder and constantly setting and trying to meet goals that everyone else thought were crazy resonated.
My husband is always telling me that I am not like other women. He tells me I’m driven and relentless. It’s true. I am, and I’ve been proud of it. I wore those characteristics like a badge of honor. And then, I heard Shauna speak, and on the flights home from the conference I devoured her new book, Present over Perfect. Highlighter and pen in hand I flew through the pages. I was repeatedly surprised – she was speaking to something I knew, that I sensed about myself but could not explain. She knew about the constant noise, the need to feel and prove myself tough and resilient. The need to feel good about what I was capable of because I didn’t feel pretty or worthy enough. She knew about my struggle to be loved and the lust I had for everything life had to offer filling the cavernous spaces in my soul. She knew about the fear I had that I just might miss something. She walked me through her journey. Her path to the quieting and I could hear myself saying “Yes, this is what I’m missing. This is why I am tired and worn out and those that are the nearest and dearest are left with the crumbs.”
I’m realizing now that I’ve got it all wrong.
My pace, my desire for doing and proving more leaves no room for grace. It leaves no room for compassion, for me or for others. It leaves no room for rest.
But I know, if this kindred soul can do it, if she can find the path to rest, to quiet, and to stillness, then so can I.
So today, I’m clicking through my mental to do list and I’m checking things off, not because they’re done but because they never needed to be done in the first place. And, instead I’m making room. I am making room for my family and my friends. I’m trading in the constant pressure of training runs for walks with my kids, my husband and my puppy. Those runs meant to defeat stress have left me defeated. They have taken the joy out of an easy one miler and replaced it with the constant expectation to build that distance and decrease my pace. They mark my weeks with anxiety and berating as I find myself falling short of my mileage goals.
I’m trading in the anxiety for a babbling toddler and a tugging puppy. I am going to stop proving myself capable and instead be present. I want Saturday morning breakfasts with my hubby; his runny eggs on buttered toast and not a pre-run toasted frozen waffle with a dab of peanut butter.
And, I made an appointment with my doctor. The one I’ve been avoiding because of the weight I put back on. The one I haven’t seen to refill my prescriptions because I don’t want to get on the scale and see and feel the failure. As if God created me to live in shame because of a stupid number on a scale. Why do I think pretty and worthy are tied to a number?
This has to stop.
I am not going to live this way anymore.
I am going to invest in me and not a race. I’m going to spend more time learning how to love than dropping a number on a scale. I am going to sit next to my husband on the couch and watch a movie, or linger in bed on a Saturday morning instead of pounding the trail and counting miles.
I am going to push the stroller and laugh with my girls and say ‘Hello’ to my neighbors. I am going to linger and spend more time with my Jesus in the quiet rather than rush through an emailed devotional.
It’s time for a change.
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