Friday, February 1, 2019

Messpirational


Way-too-long-vulnerable post warning ahead:

I have a new term: messpiration. 

I discovered it this weekend when I thought I broke. 

As many of you know, one of the things I do is write and speak on inspirational topics for women. I am all about perspective and choice laughter and the power of will and resilience and God. 

This can be a tricky thing, for teaching about inspiration and empowerment means I know a lot about it. And in my mind, I equate knowledge with performance. If I know these things, then I shouldn’t struggle with them. 

But I do. 

Not all the time. But I sometimes I do. 

Sometimes I wonder if I am enough. I wonder if I’ve failed my kids. I wonder what people think of me. I hurt and doubt and am afraid.

Then I beret myself because I feel like I should know better, and this means I should do better. I should think and feel better. 

I do. But sometimes I don’t. 

So then I feel like a fraud. How can I advocate and inspire when I feel like this way? How can I have anything to offer when I have moments of struggle myself? Why can’t I keep it all together all the time?

I was talking to a friend the other day and I said, “You know, after all this time studying and writing and speaking, I’ve realized something. I’m a mess.”

I love a perfect God and His perfect plan and principles. But, man do I trip all over them. I love hope but sometimes I lose it. I hate fear but sometimes I cling to it. I trust Him but sometimes I get frustrated and impatient. I understand I have control over my reactions, but sometimes I want to ram my car into the guy in front of me who cut me off (just a tap, really.) Damn slips from my lips too often and I love sleeping in and eating ice cream for breakfast. I think waaaay to much and over analyze everything-except the dumb things I do and say without thinking at all. I’m complicated and messy. 

Circumstances were a bit challenging and I dipped pretty low this past weekend. The weight of fear and pain pushed my thoughts down. I began to doubt my contribution to my family, my church, my writing and speaking. How can I help anyone when I feel so broken? (I have soooo many thoughts on “broken”, but that’s for another long-winded post.)

I was bemoaning my state of messiness to my daughter who, after listening to me whine and cry said, “So, you’re human then?”

I suppose I am. Very much so. 

You won’t find anything close to perfection here. I’m no example.

But, I believe in God and what He can do for and with me. I get excited when I think about progression and problem-solving and who we really are and second and third and thousandths chances. I love that the Savior gets me and has the power to ease my pain and strengthen me if I let Him. I love laughter and cookie dough and organizing. I love to make people happy. And I love real. 

So often we see people trying to inspire us with perfect appearances and programs (for a small price). They post their best as proof their answers will solve all your problems too. 

But here’s what I’ve discovered. We are all a mess. Even them. And anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something. Sometimes literally. 

We buy into the idea that happiness and joy are the “right” places and if we feel anything other than complete faith and serenity somehow it’s wrong and we are deficient. Pain and struggle have turned into sources of shame. We see them as weaknesses, proof we can’t cut it. Proof we aren’t enough. 

Look, life sometimes is really hard. It’s messy. And we struggle. This is part of our experience. We don’t wallow in it, glorify it, or use it for attention. But we shouldn’t be ashamed of it either. Pain is pain. It’s not our enemy or our friend. What we do with it is.

I’m almost always happy, but when I’m not, I’m really not. 

In my lowest moment this weekend after I had cried on the shoulder of my 21-year-old daughter, I looked at her and said, “I want you to remember this moment- the moment your mom broke.” 

She nodded. 

Then I said, “And I want you to remember what I’m going to do next.”

She nodded. 

“I’m going I let you help me today. I’m going to wipe my tears. I’m going to seek God’s help because there is some pain that only He can lessen and some strength only He can give. And I’m going to chose to be okay.” Then I smiled and got up. 

Even though I’m a mess, I’m going to continue to teach and write inspirational stuff because I believe in Who I’m teaching and writing about. I’m not an inspirational person. I’m messpirational. And I like it. And I love Him. 

So, why share all this? And why post this pic of me that’s not smiling and joyous? Why not keep such personal matters to myself?

Because I hurt still. It’s getting better- but there’s still a struggle to be had. And maybe you’re hurt or are struggling too. And because I hope we can still believe that we all have something to give even when we feel like we are small and broken. 

I don’t think we need to be happy and perfect all the time to contribute or inspire. I just think we just need to be real about it all. Life is hard and wonderful and painful and lovely and scary and fantastic. 

We don’t need to bask in the low times, allowing our struggle to define our capacity or value. Acknowledge it. Accept it. And move on with it. Wipe our tears. Let others help. And choose to keep going. 

I choose to believe we all have something to offer, in happiness and pain, in joy and sorrow. 

I believe we are all messpirational.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Part of Enough is Enough

I’ve said it before: With God, you are enough.
But maybe that’s not true. At least, not in the way I used to think about it.
I’ve had a few experiences of late where I have, for lack of better words, not been enough.
Someone invited me to participate in something, and I did. But it didn’t yield the results they were hoping for. I didn’t meet their expectations. I wasn’t enough.
It’s been a rough parenting few weeks and one nigh recently I found myself in tears because, once again, I don’t know how to help my child. I don’t know the answers. And the answers I offer aren’t received well.  I am not enough.
I have a strong understanding of and firm belief in certain spiritual truths, such as casting out fear with faith and not allowing external validation or criticism to sway my feelings about myself and the world around me, yet I sway. I am not strong enough to stand in complete confident serenity. I am not enough.
Like Paul, I know that with God all things are possible.
But I am still not enough.
I used to think (as early as this afternoon) that God could make me enough. That He could take all weaknesses and make them strengths. That with His help I could be exactly what my children need them to be, what the world needs to me be. . . what He needs me to be. That with Him, I could somehow be enough.
But I don’t believe that anymore.
This is not a siren sounding from the depths of a depressive epiphany. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
You see, I had clung to the fact that with God I could be enough for everything and everyone in my life. I wasn’t okay not being enough on my own, but I accepted it because I know that with Him I could be enough. I could be the mother my kids need me to be. I could be the speaker and writer publishers and readers need me to be. I could be (insert calling or label here) that others need me to be.
But that night, as my daughter walked out of the room taking my heart with her, I realized I wasn’t enough for her. The following thought was that with God I could be so I need to pray to be more.
Then a new reached into my mind like sunlight peeking through newly ripped blinds.
I am not enough for her. I nor will God make me enough. Because she needs more than just me. She needs Him.
I let that sink in, then began down that mental road.
I am not supposed to be enough for her.
I don’t know all the answers, and though God can and has blessed me with inspiration regarding my children, He won’t give me all the answers each of my children needs, because I am not the only source He wants them to turn to. If I were enough for my daughter, for instance, would she need Him? Would she seek Him? Would she need others in her life?
I have put so much pressure on myself to be enough—which, translated in woman-speak means everything—that I haven’t left space in my mind for the idea that I’m not supposed to be enough.
I can’t be enough
I will fail people.
I will make mistakes.
I will not know all the answers.
I will not connect with every viewer or reader.
I will have weaknesses and faults as long as I live.
I will disappoint people.
I will not be perfect at everything.
I will not be everything everyone needs—or even everything one person needs.
I will fall short.
I will not be enough.
And God, as good and capable as He is, won’t make me.
He won’t make me able to never fail people.
He won’t make me mistake-free.
He won’t make every viewer or reader love me.
He won’t take away my weaknesses and faults completely.
He won’t magically turn me into someone who won’t disappoint anyone.
He won’t make me everything everyone needs—or even everything one person needs.
He won’t make me succeed every time.
He won’t make me enough, even if He could.
Because it’s not about me. 
The moment I try to be enough for others—meaning, to meet all their needs and make them happy, I do a few things. I take away some of their personal responsibility to think and do for themselves. I take away their privilege to grow through struggle. I also leave little room for others to meet their needs as well.
I am not supposed to be enough for them because God has put other people in their lives to help them, support them, and love them too. People who think differently than me, who can reach others in a way that I can’t. Even my own children.
As my daughter and I shared tears that night, I realized I wasn’t enough for her. I wasn’t enough to give her all the answers or to take her pain away. I wasn’t enough to respond to her in the perfect way. I wasn’t enough.  And I’m not going to be enough because being enough for her isn’t my job. It isn’t the way God has set things up. She needs Him. She needs others. She needs me. She needs herself.
It’s not that with God I am enough, in the context of Him making me enough. But rather, when I stand with God, I am part of enough. When I stand with others who can help my children, we are part of enough. And when I help my children stand for themselves, they become part of enough.
I am not supposed to be enough. I am supposed to be a part of enough.  My part of enough, then, is to love and serve and teach the best I can.
I won’t be enough in my speaking and writing, simply put, because there are some people who simply don’t connect with me. I don’t resonate with them. Some even don’t like me very much. God isn’t going to make me enough for them because it’s not about me. They don’t like me. And I have to be okay with that. My part of enough, then, is to do my part—to speak and write the good things I love the best I can.
I won’t be enough for those in my larger circles of friends and acquaintances. I’m not meant to me. I’m not the friend you see in the movies that says the perfect things in three lines and all the world is better. I can’t be what everybody needs. I am not enough. My part of enough is to be a good person and try to improve a little every day, to love and be loved, to get up after I fall, and to be real.
I used to think I could be enough with His help, meaning, He would make up for my mistakes and faults and fill in the holes I’d left—like holy armor or a divine clean-up crew—so my efforts would, then, be enough.
But now I see it as me standing next to Him. I fall short and He smiles lovingly at my effort. Then He goes to work through the Spirit, through divine choreography, through others, to help meet the needs and righteous wants of those I love. I am a part of His plan. Not the whole plan. He is not the backup plan for when I fail. He is the coordinator of the plan I am a part of.
I am part of enough. He knows the whole enough.
In this new light, I am no longer afraid of not being enough for my children or anyone. There is no failure in not meeting everyone’s needs because that’s not God’s expectation. That’s not my job. I can trust that God knows my children and His children well enough that He has plans to give them all they need—to give them enough—if they let Him. (Because in all of this, others still have their agency and can choose to reject all their enoughs if they want to.)
With God, I am still not enough. But, with God, I am part of enough. I am a part of their enough, and I am a part of your enough. My part is different sizes in the lives of those around me, but it’s still just a part.
My mind turns to the people in my life, how they fill their parts of my enough. And I love them. I love the different colors and beats they bring into my life. I love that my needs are met through many of them—some needs I didn’t even know I had. Some play bigger parts in my enough—like my husband, children my parents, and close friends. Some play smaller, but vital parts of my enough—like the friend who sends what they think is a random message but actually the answer to a prayer I’d whispered that morning. Like a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes swirling together, I can see God bringing people into my life that all play parts in my enough.
And I can see, now, that I am just a part of theirs.
I don’t have to enough for everyone. Even my kids. I just have try to do my part of enough well. And that is something, I think, God will help me make possible.
So, now, I have a new motto. Rather than, “I am not enough” I am going to say “I am part of enough”. In fact, I’m going to cross-stitch it on a pillow.  That’s how much I like it.

I am part of enough. And that's enough.

I love the power of words-not just what they are but how we read them. It's much like ourselves. How do we choose to see ourselves?
I've seen prose written this way before, and I thought I'd take a stab at it. It was a surprisingly moving exercise in recognizing the dichotomy of emotions that lie within ourselves and our ability and right to choose which ones we give power to and, in that sense, give to or take power from ourselves.
Who do you know you are?





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