Self-Confidence

If you post nothing but positivity and perfection on social media, you make everyone else feel bad.  While everyone also believes that there is absolutely no way your life is that perfect.

You’re just faking it.

You shouldn’t brag about your accomplishments.

But you shouldn’t have low self-esteem.

Do this.

Don’t do that.

Act this way.

Don’t be absurd.

Why are you being like that?

Just be real.

Oh, but not that real.

Share your feelings.

But only if they’re positive.

But be real.

Admit your struggles.

But don’t talk bad about yourself.

Have self-confidence.

But be humble about it.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Because it certainly does to me.  There is such a fine line between self-confidence and self-deprecation that it’s truly a wonder if any of us have a small measure of mental health.

After a lifetime of never feeling like I was good enough, or smart enough, or just plain enough…I finally feel like I’m maybe, almost making a little bit of progress.  Not to say that this isn’t a daily struggle.  Because it is.

But…

I know that I do not need to settle for anything less that I deserve.  And when I say that, I mean…I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m strong, I’m stubborn, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m a million different things.

And when I say that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than what I deserve, I will not settle for anything less than someone or something that sees who I truly am, and isn’t fearful of that.  I will not surround myself with people who choose to put me down instead of lift me up.

We often get so focused on what other people think of us, and how other people make us feel about ourselves that we lose sight of what is truly important.

God.

Not only who God is to us…Father, Creator, Friend, Strength…but also who we are to God…loved child.

We.  Are.  Loved.

Daily, we are surrounded by so much love, it can be overwhelming, it can seem false, but it is never unfailing.

Never.

Do you need to read that again?

Because God’s love for you never fails.

No matter what you’ve done.  No matter how unloving you have acted.  God’s love for you has never failed.

It seems incredible, doesn’t it?  That someone loves us without any type of condition laid upon us.

Yet, it’s the truth.

So…

How can that truth help us navigate the tricky path that I laid out above?

Let’s talk about the word humble.  The act of “being humble” does not mean self-deprecating.

To be self-deprecating means to put yourself down.  To say that you are less valuable that you actually are.

But to be humble means to have knowledge and confidence in who you are, and knowing that all you are, all you have, is because of God.

Does that solve a lot of problems?

Well, yes.

I will.  Maybe not instantly.  But it will definitely solve a lot of problems.  And it will help you build a more firm foundation to navigate the rest of the challenges that life throws your way.

So now that we have the easy answer out of the way…what does this really look like?  How do we begin to implement this in our lives?

It isn’t easy.

It isn’t fast.

But it is so worth it.

God didn’t create worthless pieces of junk.

So maybe one of the things that you need to do is take some time to really look at yourself, and who you are, and the things that you offer to the world around you.  Write out a list of all of the good things that you are if you need to.  Turn it into a poster and hang it on your wall if you need to.  Whatever you need to do to remind yourself of your value.

Read your Bible.  I cannot stress this enough.  You must spend time reading, studying and understanding God’s words to truly understand who He is.  I can sit here and type until my fingers bleed about who God is.  But until you actually get into a relationship with Him, you won’t really know Him.

Now…can the Bible be complex, and overwhelming?  Absolutely.  It can be terrifying.

But it’s ok to be afraid, and still move forward and do it.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Maybe take it slow if you need to.  Get help when you need it.  Ask questions.  Just, please, make sure you’re asking for help from people who have some understanding of the Bible.

Once you have taken those 2 steps, something will naturally happen.  You start to take a look at what you’re doing, who you’re surrounding yourself with, and you really start to take a look inward about whether you need to make any changes in your life.

And guess what?

Those negative voices that have surrounded you in the past, the voices that have tried to bring you down…once you stand up for yourself, and have confidence in yourself, those negative voices tend to weed themselves out.

Not always (unfortunately) so you may need to make some drastic changes to your social scene.

But you won’t be sorry for it.

My friend, you are loved.  You are amazing.  Now go have an amazing day!!!

I’m Not OK…

…but I will be.

This has basically been my theme for the past couple of days.

At the moment, I feel a great deal of stress, because there is just a lot on my plate right now.

Ok, and some of that stress is because I’m worrying about something that I just absolutely cannot do one thing to change the situation.  And though I am working to let go of the worry there, stuff is still happening.  A crisis point is coming.  And I know I will have to help pick up the pieces.

Do you ever get to the point when you just have a lot going on, and it seems like all of the stress and weight that you have been managing to carry, suddenly weighs twice as much?

I hit that point yesterday morning.

I feel like the burden that I’m carrying is all my own.  I have no one else to share this with.  Not really.

And with that stress, I went down the rabbit hole of feeling like I am terribly alone in the world.  I have wonderful parents.  And I have wonderful friends.

But then I also got to thinking about something else.  The last time I hugged someone was when I hugged my parents as I was leaving Florida.  On December 27.

Ok, I have students (one in particular) that want to hug me.  But, uh, no thank you.

I struggle, sometimes (often), with sharing some of these feelings with my friends.  Not that I’m ashamed of those feelings.  But I worry that their response will be one of pity.  That they would hug me, just because I’m feeling sorry for myself.  And not just, well, because.

Maybe the reason that happens shouldn’t matter.  But to me, it does.

Though, I don’t have any life altering insight at this point, I know one thing for certain.  No matter how difficult it is for me to wait, to experience the waiting, the impatience, the fear, the grief – all of it – no matter how difficult that is, I’m not giving up on God.

I may want to sometimes.

I may (definitely do) struggle with having a decent attitude while I’m waiting.

But I trust God to have a perfect plan for all of this.

I have hope that God will answer all of this in His own perfect timing.

And I have faith that all of this truly is for a purpose.

Until then, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I keep adding one more prayer on top of another.

It’s all I can do.

Round 2

Approximately 10 years ago, I realized that I was in round 2 (sometimes round 3) of dating.  Meaning, a large percentage of the dating pool I am in has already been married.  And many of those people also have children.  As a result, I made the conscious decision that I was going to accept the fact that any relationship I end up in may also have kiddos.

And I have subsequently dated men who have children.

Personally, I love children.

But there is a dangerous and frustrating trend happening.

Instead of focusing on finding someone to build a relationship and life with, men are overwhelmed by single parenting, and focus more on finding a person that is willing to be a mother to their children.

Disclaimer, before you decent guys out there get your panties in a bunch: I understand that this is not ALL men.  But there are definitely men out there that fall into this category.  Trust me, I’ve dated them.

Disclaimer #2: I absolutely believe that the children in this equation are vitally important, and what is best for them should be considered.

Ok, now that we have those issues cleared up, let me get on with my point.

In any discipleship training I have been through, and relationships are truly and Biblically discussed, the order goes as such:

God.

Spouse.

Children.

Everyone else.

A wise friend (and if you tell him I called him that, I will flat out deny it) was once telling me about his explanation to his daughter on how to find an appropriate guy to date.

Find someone who loves God more than they love you, and you will never have to worry about being treated how you deserve to be treated.

This. Is. What. Everyone. Needs. To. Know.

The main issue I have personally had in dating is that I didn’t follow this rule.  Have I dated Christian men?  Absolutely.  Have I dated Christian men who followed this principle?  Absolutely not.

There is a difference.

There is a HUGE difference.

In the past, there are a couple misconceptions that I believed about dating.  First, that a man that truly loves God more than they love me doesn’t exist.  I do believe that those men are few and far between (in the dating range that I’m in, because many of those men are already married).  Second, that I didn’t deserve a man like that.

Both are false.

I know that now.

So here’s the thing…relationships are tough.  Building a relationship where children are involved are really tough.  And sometimes, the focus is out of place.  Putting children above trying to build a decent, God centered relationship is going to fail.  When you put children in place of God as the center, you are focusing on the wrong thing.

But when God is the center of your relationship, together we will build a relationship that will thrive.  And when the adults are focusing on God, and pursuing God’s path in their life, and in how they treat other people, the relationship will be solid.  And once that relationship is solid, the children won’t be an issue.  Why?  Because when a solid relationship is built with God at the center, I am going to treat you how God wants me to treat you, and I am also going to treat your children how God wants me to treat them.

Plain.  And.  Simple.

This. Is. Ridiculous.

Have you ever prayed what you felt was an absolutely absurd, ridiculous prayer?

Even as you’re praying, you just feel dumb even praying the words.

I have done that a couple of times recently.

The holiday season is upon us.  And Hallmark movies are constantly being showed about everyone finding their one true love in just the nick of time.  And I love every single one of them.  I truly do.

Not because I believe that they’re true to life stories.  Or because I want a storybook ending.

But each and every one gives hope in situations where we can often feel hopeless.

Point of clarity: I am not blaming Hallmark, or their wonderful Christmas movies for what I’m about to tell you.

But it’s the holiday season.  A time where we all spend somewhere between too much and not enough time with our family members.  And it can be tough when you’re the single one in the family.

well im not married yet dear marilyn monroe GIF

I decided a while back that I was going to wait until God brought the perfect for me person into my life.

God’s taking a really long time about that.

Like, a REALLY long time.

A frustratingly long and ridiculous amount of time.

I’m being a brat about it.  Because, once again, I’m spending the holidays single.  No, that’s not it.  I’m being a brat because I’m trying to fit God’s plan into my plan.  I’m trying to pull back control on a situation that I already turned over to God.

And because I was trying to take charge, I almost made a stupid decision.  Ok, in my lifetime of stupid decisions, by far, not the worst of the stupid decisions.

I almost signed up for online dating.

Because I was lonely.

And because I’m frustrated.

And impatient.

And I feel like God isn’t moving in the ways that I want Him to move.

Because that’s not what God does.

And even though I know all of these things.  I still almost made a stupid decision.  So I prayed.  I prayed for God to help keep me from making a stupid decision.  And to remind myself that I’m really not the one in charge anyway.

I’m not saying that I’m 100% of the way there.  But at least I acknowledge that I almost did a stupid thing.

That’s progress, right?

The (Not So) Happy Birthday

My birthday is this week.

Growing up, birthdays were a big deal.  I mean, a really big deal. The entire family got together.  Presents were showered upon us. My grandma made them a big deal.  Always.

My grandma was also a little crazy.  And was definitely a one-upper. She waited until her brother scheduled the date for his wedding.  And then scheduled hers for the day before. My grandma was an amazing woman. But a little crazy, nonetheless.  

18 years ago, she definitely one-upped me.  She died on my 20th birthday. All of a sudden, a day that had always been a huge deal became something else.  And I’m still not sure how to feel about it. Over the years, I have tried to take the day back. But to say the least, I have been unsuccessful.  It seems like the harder I tried to plan good things, and good things only, to happen on my birthday, the worse the day was.

One year, my ex nearly knocked me unconscious, and I ended up with a bruise from my eye to my ear.  He tried to tell me the watch and earrings were my birthday present. But really, it was a weak form of apology.

Another year, a different ex started a huge fight with me, because how dare I have a birthday, and the attention be taken off him for a day.  After making a huge celebration for his own birthday, he turned around and told me that anyone who tried to celebrate their birthday was immature.  He got drunk. And I cried myself to sleep.

And then, even last year, the last entry in my “thank you God that didn’t work out” series of boyfriends tried to do something nice.  Turns out, I got threatened at school.  

This year, I’m purposely not making any plans.  I’m not trying to make the day, well, anything. Secretly, not so secretly, I’m still hoping up hopes that something amazing and fantastic and wonderful will happen.  Who wouldn’t?

But honestly, if I can just survive the day, I will be thrilled. 

Ugh, Seriously???

I am annoyed.  Mostly with myself.  A little bit with God.  But seriously, it’s with myself.  This is not the story that I want to tell.  But this is the story that I need to tell.  

My mom has the absolute best intentions in the world.  She really does. And I appreciate the intent, even if I don’t always appreciate the actual thing she does.  For years, she would buy me books, or forward me stories of women who had similar stories to mine, in that I’m an old lady, and I’m still single.  Even though I REALLY don’t want to be.  So she would give me these stories of other women who were in similar circumstances for years and years and years.  And then they meet their soulmate, and life is wonderful.

Those stories annoy me.

Because that is the life that I so desperately want to live.  

Because that’s great and fantastic and wonderful that life has worked out for them.  But here I am. And I’m not in the place that I really want to be. And there are days that I just don’t understand why.  Today is one of those days.  

Except, I really do know the reason why.  Because God is telling me to write the story that I needed to read years ago.  The story of how it’s possible to not be exactly where I want to be. But to still live a life full of joy and wonder and love.  

At the end of the day, I am happy.  I really am.  

And there are days (yesterday, and today) where the loneliness weighs a little heavier on my shoulders.  

Because let me tell you about my weekend.  My cousin, who is seriously more like a sister to me, is amazing.  Her husband is amazing. Her kids are the best, except when they shot me in the eye with a Nerf dart.  Over the weekend, she was telling my mom and I about an event that they had been invited to, and someone that has hurt her was also going to be there.  And her husband’s response to this was so simple, yet so powerful. They had decided that they never wanted this person to ever set eyes on their children.  But beyond that, her husband told her that he didn’t want her to have to experience going to this event for her own mental health.  

Later, my only comment to my mom about this was that I love how he defends her, and protects her.  

I want that.

I’ve never come close to having that.

But that is how it is supposed to be.  

The other thing from this weekend is even more ridiculous.  Because Sunday at church, my pastor was talking about his niece, whose husband just had his fifth brain surgery in just a couple of months.  But through it all, how her faith has never wavered. And she is struggling, and is tired, beyond anything you could imagine. 

And one of the first things that went through my mind was “wow, I want a love like that.”  

Yes, I was jealous of the love that this woman has for God, and for her husband.  Not the situation, mind you. Because no one should have to experience anything like that.  But the love that they have is what everyone should have.  

Last night, I went for a walk.  Honestly, I was content to sit at home and do nothing.  Mindless, nothing. But I forced myself to go for a walk.  And it was so hot that I didn’t take Cheese with me. So I walked.  And I prayed. I almost wrote that I walked alone. But I really wasn’t.  God was with me. And I spent a lot of time praying. Praying for God to guide me on what to do.  On what to say. And praying for a miracle.

I have decided that that is exactly what it is going to take for me to find my husband.  I need a miracle.  

I am not one of those people you often hear about where they receive the overt and obvious miracles.  I never have been. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that God isn’t working in my life. I feel Him working in my life every single day.  Just in a more subtle way.  

So right now, where am I at?  

I am still praying until something happens.  At least, I’m trying to. PUSH. Pray. Until.  Something. Happens.

I’m going to be really honest, I was really hoping that I wouldn’t still be praying about that miracle I need.  But I am. I pray every single day for the ways God is working in my life. And to prepare my heart. And to prepare my husband’s heart.  Whoever he is.  

And I am weary from still needing to pray about it.  I still am. But my patience is wearing thin. And I’m not sure how much longer I will need to pray.  But I also know that if I stop praying for this miracle, I won’t get it.

So, annoyed as I am.  I’m still PUSHing.