I had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii recently in celebration of my 10 year wedding Anniversary. I was excited to rest and relax, but even more excited to have no real plans for about two weeks. As my husband and I drove to our hotel from the airport, I admired the view. The landscape was different, but beautiful. I saw the water, and then I saw the volcano rock. All around, there was rock. I wondered about wildlife and vegetation in this area of the drive. Then, I started noticing a grass-like growth seemingly right from the rocks. I admired the steadfastness of the growth and the fact that while nothing else was growing out of that rock, this grass was. I remarked to my husband how amazing that was, then I began to ponder on the significance of what was going on. It made me do some thinking about life. Sometimes our situations seem dark and do not, seemingly, have a foundation from which we can grow. In the midst of our trials, we despair. We fret. We struggle to see the end of the process; But we forget that every process produces growth within us. Just like the grass growing out of the rocks, out of a hard and impossible place, we too grow and evolve. We SURVIVE. The situations may not be ideal, and we may not like how we come to our growth moments, but it happens. So, we have to be as resilient as that grass growing out of the rock. Keep growing. Refuse to bend. Decide not to let go. But grow through it. Thrive. Be. Do. Just because you can.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m just not good enough”, and you believed it deep down on the inside of you? Have you found yourself comparing yourself to someone else’s greatness, and finding your own self severely lacking? When was the last time you looked at yourself and said, “I am good just how I am?” Are you still thinking? That long, huh? Yeah, I understand.
I had a discussion with someone not long ago, and he reminded me that in the whirlwind of all that I do, I had lost the capacity to consider myself. I helped everyone else. I got pleasure from seeing others happy. But when he asked me what makes me happy, it took a while to think about it. Caught up in everyone else, I realized that part of my drive to make everyone happy was so that they didn’t look at me and see that I was struggling. I didn’t want anyone to see that I didn’t think I was good enough to live up to the big dreams God put in me, so I pushed everyone else’s vision, supported everyone else, encouraged everyone else…and somewhere along the way, I forgot about me. It is easy to do. Sometimes, we get so great at hiding our need from others that they begin to think we don’t need anything from them, and they become content allowing you to push their vision while yours gets dropped off on the side of the road. It’s not totally their fault. But as I spoke with this person, I began to remember the dreams I had put on the top shelf, not totally out of reach, but far enough away so that I wasn’t bothered by the sight of unrealized dreams.
I understood again that if the dreams were given to me, then I am good enough to function in them. It is timeout for losing the essence of me trying to be everything else for everyone else. Not to say that we shouldn’t support others and help push others, but not at the detriment of losing ourselves in the process. So maybe you have allowed yourself to believe that you’re not good enough, pretty enough, old enough, young enough, popular enough…destroy the lie. You ARE good enough. Now own it.
I am socially awkward. I am that one who CAN talk to everyone in the room, but probably won’t. The wallflower that is vibrant and vivacious, but would rather stay to myself. That one who loves everyone, but still gravitates to seeking my own company. I used to wonder why God gave me the personality He did. Why did he make me quiet and observant as opposed to outgoing and the life of the party? Why couldn’t he make me to be the one with a whole lot of friends and associates, rather than the one with very few friends and even fewer associates? I have watched those who seem to be well-liked by everyone, and I wondered about their secret. Then I tried to mimic who they were, but it made me feel fake and out of pocket. Eventually, I came to realize that the me the way God created me to be would have to do.
If you think about it, all of us having the same personalities would make for a very bland world. No differences. Same way of doing things. There is a place in society for all of us. For the quintessential wallflower, the gregarious life of the party, the easygoing in-the-moment participant…all of us. Now, I know that our lives sometimes shape who we are. Looking back at my childhood, my experiences shaped me to be unnaturally suspicious of anyone I encounter. Trusting someone is not always first on my list. Then as I grew older, my own mistakes led me into hiding. I used to think, “What if they knew all the things I have done. The wrong I have done to others…THAT mistake? Would they still think I had value?” But that is a mindset that has to be broken. Our lives lead to us portraying ourselves in certain ways, then we project that on others and stop being true to ourselves. I decided I would live my truth.
So now, when I say I am a wallflower, it is not out of fear of what people think about me. It is because I have learned to speak when I have something to say. But, I am the one in the gathering who will most likely be off to myself. Not antisocial. Not standoffish. Just comfortable in who I am. It took years to get here, but it has been worth the journey. Spend time getting to know yourself, and being comfortable with who you are. Your experiences shaped you, but they don’t define the rest of your story.
Sometimes you just hurt. Not that surface kind of hurt, but that deep-down, soul-wrenching, unexplainable hurt. That hurt that seems to invade every facet of your life until you find yourself drifting through each day, pasting on the appropriate smile, and saying just the right things. But that pain deep inside is there as a constant reminder that things really are not as they seem. I have been there. “Where is there?” you may ask. There is where you silently cry as your significant other sleeps beside you. You soak the pillow with your tears, feeling lonely even in your togetherness. As you cry, your body shakes as you try to control the sobs from breaking free and disturbing their sleep. I mean, they wouldn’t understand anyways, right? There is trying to describe to someone you love how you feel, attempting to rid yourself of this vast feeling of going nowhere and mattering to no one, and them responding, “Well, you have a good life, right?” as if that makes what you are saying and how you are feeling null and void. Yeah, they missed it. Or, maybe you search through your mind polling the many phone numbers in your phone, but not one catches your attention as someone you can call and have them talk you out of this lonely place.
I mean, when you look at the surface, life is great, right? You have everything you need and some things you want. You have a loving partner, maybe family and friends, even some children sprinkled in there. You are the one everyone depends on to encourage them and be there for them, but sometimes you want to shout “WHAT ABOUT ME?” On the surface, you have it going on, but no one knows you’re struggling with being a hamster running around the proverbial wheel of life, seeming to get nowhere, but running because that is what you were told to do. The days spent building up others’ dreams while you see yours collecting dust on the shelves are tough days, but you grin and bear it. You have no choice, right? Working a 9-5 you hate because your family has to eat, right? Pushing others to be great when you want to give up. Yeah, I know what “there” is. But even with all of this that no one ever sees, you manage to make life look amazing.
That is because even with all of that, it really is. Even with the soul-searing pain, at least you can still feel. Even with the loneliness, at least you still function. Even when it seems no one on earth understands or cares, there is still One who knows just what He is doing every step of the way. Maybe you are in the place I described. It is a ROUGH place, it is, but it is not the end. You may feel like giving up. Been there. Suicide has crossed my mind several times. That is not the answer. That is only hurting others because you hurt. Next up, getting in a car and just driving…disappearing like you see in the movies. Yeah, that would not work. Eventually someone would find you or you would just get tired of running from yourself. Well, maybe if I turn my back on God who doesn’t seem to care anyway, and I just do whatever I want, that will change things. Nope. Same issues just masked by “good times” which are really camoflauging empty moments.
Sometimes just acknowledging the feelings is the first step. Acknowledging that you are broken and hurting, feeling unnecessary and overlooked, seemingly unproductive and thinking you can be easily replaced, yeah, that is the first step. Unfortunately, this may be a journey you take alone. It may be the roughest journey you ever embark on, but in the end, if you can acknowledge it, you can beat it. So, yeah, maybe there will be a few nights, weeks, months, of tear-soaked pillows…Maybe your phone will become useless as you can’t figure out anyone to call, but in the end you win. Let the silent tears flush out the bitterness and the hurt. Allow yourself to be in the moment, and know that as long as there is a tomorrow, there is another chance for things to get better from here. It has to get better. It just does.
It’s that time of year again. You know the time. When New Year’s resolutions and promises for a new year begin. Some really mean what they say and take the necessary steps to ensure that the new year yields results. Others are more talk than action, and they start out meaning well, but as life and old desires battle, often their good intentions lose the fight. Gyms and churches are packed in January, but by March there are empty classes and empty pews/seats. We always mean well, but sometimes we lack the follow-through. As 2018 approaches, I, like everyone else, have taken stock of my life. I realize the things I have not done that I promised in January I would do. I see the areas where I slacked, even the areas where nothing was accomplished. I’m not proud of it, but I acknowledge it. My resolve, I will finish what I have begun, and I will become all that I am meant to become. That is the only resolution I will make for the new year because everything I need to do is wrapped up in that simple statement.
One thing that I have struggled with, as 2018 quickly races to take over 2017, is the promise of dreams coming true. I struggled with this because it seems like each year I would hear someone say, or I would tell myself, Grace this is your year. In the same vein, year after year, these hopes didn’t happen. So eventually, hoping can become too heavy a burden to bear. I found myself just saying, “You know what? I’ll be fine if this thing and that thing doesn’t happen. Others have dealt with it and lived. I can and will too.” I was choosing to prepare myself more for the possibility of these things not happening for me, rather than the possibility of them actually happening. I did not want to create an environment of hope, then be let down again. Now, these things I hope for are not things I can do myself. I can’t just wish them in to existence and they come to pass. No, these are things out of my control. Ooohhh, control…yeah, that thing I hate to lose a handle on. So, as 2018 has approached, even as people have said 2018 is my year to have certain things, I have battled. I have doubted. I have put their kind and hopeful words on the shelf. Why? Because it hurts to hope. But, I realized that life without hope is not really living at all.
So, as I prepare for what is to come, I choose to hope again. I believe that certain things will come true for me, whether in 2018 or beyond. These things not happening in my timeframe does not mean that they won’t. One thing is for sure, when waiting on something to happen, we cannot become stagnant while waiting. Get busy. Create the life you desire. Pray more. Worry less. Live happy. That way, when what you have hoped for comes to pass, it is welcomed into a full and prosperous environment. 2018 will be an AMAZING year filled with opportunities, open doors, advancement, great life-changing moments, some ups and downs, but definitely more joy than pain. Embrace your new year even now, and when the new year finally arrives, you will be ready for all the endless possibilities of a fresh start. Dare to dream. 😊
I accept myself. I acknowledge my shortcomings. I no longer run from my mistakes. I did it, but I won’t stay there. I know where I fall short. I’m ok with me. Each day will reveal a greater me. Seemingly simple statements, but sometimes being able to say these things to yourself is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. I say that because it took me a long time to be able to face myself in the mirror and repeat these things. You see, I have done some things that I never thought I would do and messed up big time. Because of those things I no longer believed in myself. Although I acknowledged the things I’d done, I still kept myself bound in guilt and shame. I allowed my past to hold me prisoner. Even when I’ve tried things and they haven’t worked out, I would say to myself that I did not deserve those good things anyways after all that I had done. It was not until I began to accept the things that I could not change,and acknowledge my shortcomings, that I realized that life is full of mistakes. However, what you choose to do after the mistake can determine the course of your life from that point forward. I came to a point of accepting that I am not perfect, and accepting that there are some things about me that needed to change. Once I got there I was able to begin living again. Some things you’ll never seem to forget, but you can go on and live. Never allow anything or anyone to keep you so lost in your past that you neglect your present, which ultimately stops you from having a future. Accept who you are and everything that has made you who are today, and do what you can to make yourself better than you have ever been.