It’s time for a change

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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28 thoughts on “It’s time for a change

  1. So good Julia! I loved Shauna’s message as well so true for a lot of us “doers”. I love hearing your story and look forward to watching your journey. It was a joy to hug your neck this weekend! <3

  2. Jennifer, thank you for the encouragement! Shauna’s message hit home for me – and I am glad for that. It was great to see you as well!

  3. It’s a tough journey, at least for me, but I know when I choose present over perfect I end up feeling a lot better about my life choices! 🙂 Praying!

    1. Tom, thank you for the prayers and encouragement. I want to enjoy what I am doing and not just do. I’m sure it will take some time to adjust and that I will deviate from the path more than a few times but it’s a start!

      1. Yes, yes, yes! Breathe in grace and enjoy each beautiful moment of each day as His gift.

  4. Wow! What a beautiful, authentic post, Julia! May God give you the grace to implement this new pace, and infuse you with His peace and strength. Here’s to many moments of lingering! xo

    P.S. Glad to have met you in the airport. 🙂

    1. Thanks Cindy and I am so glad to have met you as well! I have said often since the conference that I was there more for my soul than my writing!

  5. “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.” Dear sister, how I feel exactly what you are going through. I knew of Shauna and her journey before the conference, but hearing her speak live touched me deeply. I am in the process of also embracing a slower life. Just trying to discern where God wants me to cut back.

    I think our paths crossed at She Speaks, but I didn’t have a chance to fully connect with you, and I’m sad about that. Looking forward to connecting further online. <3

  6. Lauren, parts of the message Shauna shared were sentiments my husband, my best friend and my mother have impressed upon me for years. “Slow down” they’d say. Praise God it finally hit home! I look forward to hearing about what God shows you.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement – I’m starting to recognize that a little margin and self-care aren’t just nice but also necessary.

  7. This was such a great post, thanks so much fro sharing your heart! After hearing that you already finished “Present over Perfect’ I will definitely make that my next book to read. Worth and value is a constant struggle for me and I want to not strive to “do ” but just to “be”. So thankful for this bloghop to stay connected and encourage each other!

  8. Thanks so much for sharing your heart. Crazy how it takes a few overwhelmingly busy days away and some wise words from someone who has been there to help us see the need for a change. I know God will honor your heart’s desire to slow down and find margin. Blessings!

    1. Betsy, I am reminded by this of just how much our Heavenly Father knows us. And why shouldn’t He – as we also know Him as our creator? She Speaks was an amazingly busy and beautiful event!

  9. what a true and honest testimony. i was also new to Shauna and bought her book and i am loving it for the same reasons. can’t wait to check in with your blog. love your writing style.

    1. Thank you Erin for the kind words – I have a feeling I’m going to be hovering around the book for a while! I will be putting her other books on my Amazon wish list!

  10. This is wonderful Julia! I will have to get a copy of that book. Sounds like exactly what I need to read today! I just read Amy Carroll’s Breaking Up with Perfect. It’s amazing:) I can totally relate to everything you shared. Thank you so much for writing about your takeaways from the conference. I wasn’t able to go this year (although I attended the past two years.) So thankful you girls got together to share on a blog hop, so I can enjoy your A-Ha moments with you!

    1. Thank you Kristine! Breaking Up with Perfect is on my list to read.

      Attending She Speaks was such a blessing I hope to attend again and maybe meet you!

  11. Great post, Julia. It really resonated with me, as well! Jill Savage had some great advice in her talk during the writing track on Friday afternoon. One of the things she said was “Choose margin over mayhem.” We are meant to have margin in our lives – those white spaces where we can rest and love on our families and handle whatever comes our way. I’m glad you were able to get away to She Speaks. And WOW! you met Cindy Bultema at the airport? How cool is that?!?

    1. Thank you Teri! I may have to check out Jill’s talk as well – She Speaks was such a blessing to me and I’m looking forward to going again!

  12. Julia, what a great post! I really felt God speaking to me as well, that he isn’t concerned with numbers at all. Especially the number on the scale, that’s all us and in our own minds. But he is concerned with “healthy” – healthy devotion to him, to our husbands and kids, to our work and ministry. I also thought Shauna’s session was so encouraging about living present and I am excited to read her book too. I have a pile of books on my nightstand from She Speaks. Blessings to you.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I felt challenged as well – it’s interesting as I try to refocus the vision I am getting of what my life should look like. #Bethere

  13. Beautiful thoughts, Julia, and a wonderful reminder to slow down and live in the present moment. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on She Speaks! I’m not sure that we had the opportunity to meet each other there, but I wanted to invite you to my She Speaks Community private Facebook group. My friend, Kristen, and I are hosting it for women who attended She Speaks 2016 and are interested in supporting and encouraging one another as we settle back into life with all that we learned from the conference. If you are already a part of a writer/speaker/leader encouragement group, we don’t want to infringe upon that and it won’t hurt our feelings at all if you choose not to join. But if you (or any other She Speaks attendee on this thread) are interested, message me and I’ll send you the link! Blessings to you on your journey!

  14. This is such an encouragement for those of us who feel compelled toward non-stop busyness. How easy it is to believe the lie that our worth is tied to our accomplishments, our appearance, or our abilities! Thank you for sharing so transparently from your own experience, and for linking with us at Grace & Truth!

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