Be Your Own Best You (also titled: if you pee on yourself while running, then running is not for you)

I went to the beach this year and honest-to-goodness could barely make it from the hotel room to our spot near the ocean without wanting to die.

After years of denial, it was finally time to admit: I’d let myself go.

No shame. I think it’s pretty easy to do when your primary job is to carpool and clean toilets for zero dollars a year.

Super understandable when you eat what’s left over on your children’s plates and claim housework as exercise. (I personally haven’t cared to lift a weight since I discovered you have to do it more than once a month to get results.)

I used to think I was blessed with good genes, but they stopped helping me around the age of 25, when I started gaining about five pounds a year.

So I told myself while huffing and puffing on vacation I was damned-determined to shed my extra weight.

I signed up for boot camp, a twice a week combo of weight-training and HIT. (By the way, HIT makes me want to hit someone.)

That first week I didn’t loathe it. I wouldn’t say I loved or even liked it, but I definitely didn’t hate it.

Second week was okay, but I was not loathing it less.

Third week, I came down with a horrible case of poison ivy, an upper respiratory infection, and a cough that nearly broke my rib cage. (Did you know overextending your body can lead to illness? Yep. It’s a thing.)

By week four, something snapped. I like to call it my Sick and Tired.

I was Sick and Tired of doing something I didn’t like just because everyone else was doing it.

I was Sick and Tired of scrolling through Instagram gym posts, envious over how much some of you loved working out while I hated it. What’s wrong with me?

I was Sick and Tired of seeing pictures of green smoothies and plates of clean veggies and wondering why I continued to crave Big Macs and fries.

I was Sick and Tired of peeing on myself every time I did a jumping jack or ran halfway down the street. Just being honest here, but the Tight Bladder Ship sailed after baby Four sat on it for nine months before I pushed her out like a watermelon—as I had done with the other three.

Are you sick and tired of being Sick and Tired?

I think many of us—especially moms—get stuck in a rut. We are constantly caring for those around us, and we almost feel shame whenever we care for ourselves (and also judgment for other moms who seem to do so without guilt).

The deeper we dig in the rut, the more trouble we have getting out by ourselves.

Eventually we come to believe we need others’ help in getting out. (Mind you, sometimes we really do, so please don’t misunderstand me.)

We need medication, a counselor, or our partner to change.

We want a trainer (like I thought), or someone to tell us exactly how or what to eat.

We expect a preacher to lead us to the promise land, or we long for the perfect job or boss.

We pin a thousand housecleaning charts or new parenting how-tos in the hopes they will fix what isn’t working for us.

We devour self-help books, and when they each tell us a different way to turn, we feel more lost than ever.

Everywhere we look there is a conflicting opinion on how to behave as a mother or wife, how to live as a Christian, how to treat our bodies, how to eat, how to clean, how to choose a career path, etc. etc. etc.

I’ve tried it all, believe me. Did this and did that. Worked at this and worked at that. Strove for this and failed at that.

Over and over again. Enough to wear out any normal human being.

A few days ago I was sitting on my deck, contemplating the last 37 years of my life, especially my thirties, which have been a roller coaster.

I’m blessed with a backyard full of trees, and all manner and color of birds and butterflies make their home within the confines of my sacred space.

I watch these creatures and hold a reverent awe of God’s creative genius, how He birthed such amazing beauty on this Earth simply for our enjoyment.

When we look at creation, we praise God for its uniqueness.

But I wonder why we don’t thank God for our own individuality.

I wonder why we believe all humans should look, act and think a certain way.

I wonder why we strive so hard to imitate certain people, losing our souls in the process.

I wonder why we can’t just be our own best us.

Confession: I HATE to work out in a gym. But I love to walk my puppies through town while listening to old music or good sermons.

I crave vegetables, but I’ll eat a cow in a heartbeat and enjoy every minute of it.

I’m not a great PTO mom, but I am the queen of snuggles. Filling up my babies’ love tanks is of utmost importance to me.

I sometimes fail to be a good and kind wife, but I wake up every morning willing to try again.

I don’t always keep a clean house, but my kids feel at home in their sanctuary.

I like to work, but peace within my chaotic family trumps a paycheck any day of the week. (And I totally realize I am BLESSED to have that option right now.)

I love to dress up on a date night, but more often than not a pair of holey jeans and a t-shirt are my go-to (ponytail required).

I pee while running. It’s a part of me I can’t change. (Had the surgery/accomplished nothing.)

I am who I am.

You are who you are.

Over the last few months, I’ve come to accept that who we are and what we have are given by God for a purpose and a plan, for just such a time as this.

While you’re working so hard to gain the elusive goal of being somebody, to gain the whole world, make sure you don’t forfeit your own soul in the process.

Remember that you serve a distinct reason for living, even if, like me in all my housewife glory, it’s what the world deems “ordinary.”

Greater is He in You than he who is in the world. And He in you calls you EXTRAORDINARY.

If anything about your current life makes you uneasy, don’t look to the right or the left. Don’t think you have to mirror another person’s life.

Look for your own YOU.

Because the only way to be content is to be authentic. My authentic is not your authentic, but we do share one truth:

We cannot enjoy a content inside with an inauthentic outside.

One more thing about those birds: God says in His Word that as much as He cares about them, He cares about YOU way more. (Matthew 6:26-34, The Message)

Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

So what have you decided to give up in order to live a more authentic life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And if you see me running any time soon, I assure you it’s because I’m being chased. 😉

 

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Jealous much?

I will never forget the very first time I experienced jealousy.

I passed my sweet playground-friend, Susan, in the hallway of Northside Elementary school.

I waved to her before looking down at her shoes.

We were wearing identical boots, something that should have made me smile.

Instead, I was filled with jealousy.

Why?

Because the rest of Susan’s outfit was so much cuter than mine.

Her white cowboy boots matched perfectly with her blue jean skirt and cute tee, while I think mine were paired with some weird Pentecostal-looking long skirt and a shirt I feel confident came from Roses in West Jackson.

Not to mention that Susan’s hair was perfectly pinned back with a barrette, while my bangs were not only hideous and huge, but also lopsided because they were cut one-handed in our kitchen while my mom held a cigarette in the other.

Also I smelled like that cigarette. 24/7/365, I smelled like I worked in a tobacco factory.

When you’re young, you don’t have words for the concepts of jealousy and judgment.

First, you understand that you feel someone is better than you or has more than you.

Then, you understand that someone thinks they are better than you or has more than you.

You soon learn what to call these feelings, and then it requires an extra amount of falsehood to cover up what makes us self-conscious.

Some are really, really good at covering over insecurity. You honestly never know they go through anything at all because they make it their life mission to make sure you don’t.

Others (and by others I mean me) wear struggle as a badge of honor. My parents got divorced so I… I was abused as a child so I… I was bullied so I… SUSAN HAD BETTER HAIR so I… are all part of their daily conservation, both alone and with others.

I’ve wondered since having my own kids what makes one person a victim and another a victor.

I’m learning that at each end of the victim/victor spectrum lies two emotions:

FEAR and ENVY.

On one end, fear tells us to HIDE, to pretend like we’ve had the perfect life, lived a flawless existence, made all the right choices.

Or, on the other end, fear tells us to TALK. To make sure every person we come into contact with knows our story and feels our pain. That way, they don’t expect too much of us, you know, because we’re damaged goods.

Many of us don’t realize that both of these behaviors stem from ENVY.

I joke that my give-a-care about social status broke a long time ago.

Moving to my town five years ago, however, showed me this wasn’t entirely true. Insecurity brought a great deal of fear to the surface of my soul, which is why I write about it so much.

I saw that I’d buried a lot of hopes and dreams deep within me and covered them with the dirt of failed expectations and bitter emotions, such as anger, sarcasm and cynicism.

And jealousy. Envy, we call this deadly emotion.

Envy is deadly because it destroys GRATITUDE, the lifeline to our Creator. 

But envy is also deadly because it is so sinister. It hides so that you don’t always see it for what it is. And if you don’t see your envy, you can’t fix it.

As former pastor Pete Wilson said in his 2015 sermon “Green with Envy,” jealousy presents itself in a number of ways:

  • Criticism, which Wilson called a cowardly form of self-praise
  • Self-pity, a defense mechanism
  • False-praise, which happens when we build up those we are secretly envious of
  • And Avoidance, the final part of envy, when we just avoid a person or situation altogether

These disguises allow us to hide our envy under false pretenses, and none of them are good.

I have to be honest: I’m guilty of envy, especially envy disguised as criticism, self-pity, false-praise and avoidance.

How about you?

Do you belittle others, either to their face (“Oh, I’m just playing with you!”) or behind their back?

Do you secretly love when they fail?

Do you keep up with the Joneses? Do you seek to be around certain people because of who they are?

Is hating that others have more than you keeping you from enjoying what you have?

The sad fact is, making choices out of envy and fear lead you to have even more envy and fear.

You parent your children from that ugly place. You envy what other mothers are able to do, how other children dress, how athletic they are, smart they are, or how many friends they have.

Your child feels that. All of it. They absorb the shame you feel, and they carry it on their tiny shoulders. Trust me.

And some of you, the ones who spend your whole life making sure people don’t know how envious or fearful you are, will make sure your child is the best, has the best and is semi-worshiped by other kids. (And other mothers, too, which is pitiful. Let’s stop worshiping other people’s children, y’all, and be thankful for our own.)

Nothing wrong with having a beautiful, successful life. Not wanting one is almost as bad as wanting one too much.

But let’s be careful that we don’t teach our child their worth is found in the tangible.

Because that’s really what jealousy and fear are all about.

Worth. Value.

We come to this flawed Earth with a longing to be wanted and needed.

And we are put into situations—pretty much from Day One—in which the great majority of us will almost certainly be let down.

Life’s hardships chip away at our feelings of worthiness.

We question why a good God would bring us here only to suffer.

We forget that He said He died for us to have life abundant because His idea of abundant life and our idea of abundant life are two completely different things.

So we attempt to find value in the fleeting, in items and people and places that could be taken away from us in an instant.

We marry for money.

We live through our children.

We refuse to put away our glory days.

We run the hamster wheel of keeping up.

Who else is exhausted? (If you live in my town, you are probably beyond exhausted!)

Not only do I not want to continue being envious of what I don’t have, I want to hop off the treadmill of comparison, striving to succeed, and fear of failure.

I want to enjoy social media for what it should be—a great way to connect—and not for what it has become (and we all know what it has become).

I want to raise up children who are secure and confident in exactly who they are and what they bring to the table of life.

I want to love my friends and family fearlessly and without abandon, instead of constantly judging them or worrying that they’re doing the same to me.

And speaking of friends and family, I want to hold on to the genuine ones, the people who build me up, want to spend time with me, make me feel good about who I am.

And most importantly, I want to find my value in God alone.

I can now admit: Susan might have had a better outfit to go with our identical boots.

But she had no more value than I did, not in our Father’s eyes.

And teaching my children—and myself—that very simple concept might be the most difficult task this flawed gal ever takes on. 🙂

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