My 20s were spent learning who I am and my 30s, I hope will be about applying what I have learned. In my search for myself I realized I was repeatedly losing significant battles that kept me from growing. They say the first step to growth is recognition and then action. I will win these battles in the coming decade.
The Battle of Comparison.
Theodore Roosevelt said that, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
For me I have learned that: Comparison is the root of all DISCONTENT. Well, duh.
When I compare myself to EVERYSINGLEOTHERMOTHER on social media, I realize, I am not as pretty, as popular, as fit, as witty, as successful, as tidy, as clean, as gentle, as full of GRACE…. and I am
Now, sin is a complex personal issue that cannot be reduced to one single emotion. However for me…. this is the root. When I become discontent in my being I begin to seek affirmation in insidious ways. I buy a “cuter” outfit I don’t need…. I seek compliments. I speak lies of failure over my clutter and microwave dinner. My heart belittles the accomplishments and home cooked meals of others. I dwell on lost friends, lost opportunities. I push my kiddos to behavior that is out of their character. I become a slave to perfectionism. I react in anger when I can’t measure up and neither can anyone else around me. Impossible standards for me and the world. MUCH of these things I will stuff and stuff and stuff….. trying my darnedest to not say out loud….. but out of the heart ….. and soon I realize that I am acting in ways that are unbecoming all because I feel less….because I compared myself to another rather than identify myself as a daughter of Christ. I will not be a slave to comparison.
The Battle of Acceptance
I am a Type A, Perfectionist, Lion/Retreiver, INFP that has become an INFJ in the past 8 years.
Is that possible? Can an Introvert be a Lion? Yes. Can a Lion also be a Retriever? Yes.
The sad part is I can rarely be both at the same time. If I have to be a Lion at work, the Retriever gets forfeited. If I have to be a Retriever at work my own sweet kiddos get the Lion. Its a tight-rope existence. I feel all the things….all the time. There is never a middle ground. I am all in with each and every emotion. I realized that I have never felt …..mildly irritated.
And I can be polarizing.
I’ve learned this. In the past year I have had a few friendships go the way of……… tears. And I recently had a conversation that started with…..”soooo……maybe I don’t work as well with others as I originally thought……” Complete honesty here: it is hard to make friends as an adult. And when you move…..you hold onto the hope that maybe not all, but most of the friendships you had before will carry you into a new place. And that doesn’t always happen. And Facebook…..Lord have mercy, is it brutal. (Maybe it is the root of all our problems…) A social media snub can make you feel like you are 13, and just got a bad perm AND braces the week before the Valentine’s dance. And in for real life, for the first time in a long time; I had to make friends on my own. I had to go into a new workplace and essentially sell Cody. There is a reason I am not in sales.
I while I sincerely believe in personal growth and the power of maturity, I am also learning that being self-aware of one’s flaws does not always mean changing yourself to fit a “better” mold. The Lord in His infinite perfect plan, made me with a huge heart that makes joy feel as though my heart might burst and also experiences heartbreak like the very first time much to often. There is a reason my emotion sensor is high. Because I experience EVERY experience in this manner I also have a radar. I can sense it in others too. A woman’s intuition, my mother calls it discernment…..I am usually praying like crazy for someone because my radar is spot on. The Retriever thrives on this radar. And that Lion…..can get some stuff done. Just not allthethings allatonce, and usually by myself. Instead of worrying about what other people think of me I am trying day by day to walk, asking myself, what would Jesus think of each of my interactions? Last week that resulted in a heart check of the worst kind and humbly asking a student to forgive me for harsh words that were unnecessary.
By the time I end my 30s, hopefully even these labels will cease to define me.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~ Romans 12:2
Because, no one ever goes through life wishing to be a static character.
The Battle of Fear
For every person out there, self doubt can lead to particular crippling type of fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, or fear of rejection. And fear can be lonely. Any number of fears can cause us to pull away and push away the one’s that love us the most….because we fear we may lose them.
For peoples like me (and I
know hope I am not the only one…) where anxiety and depression dance on the edge of every moment, fear takes on a whole other dimension. While the world fights likely, predictable outcomes, I battle irrational fears. Every cold, or cough from my darlings, unanswered phone calls, or sirens makes my mind and heart race. Some mornings cannot channel the power of positive thinking. Some days are hard.
Winning over fear(s) is a hard one. The best way I know to beat this is by tackling the hardest one.
In our 8 years together, it took to year 6 before I believed when he said he wouldn’t leave. And last week I had a rough few days. My heart was racing as I made my way to him and whispered my heart. My partner, my love, and I was afraid of what he would think. I whispered how defeated I felt. Defeat, and guilt and shame because logically my defeat seems foolish. That heart vs. mind battle. And depression is never logical. It is often prompted or exacerbated by circumstances but most frequently it is waiting to leap from the shadows for no reason. Nathan just listened. He held me and listened. No condemnation.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. ~ 1 John 4:18
These battles that I have fought and lost repeatedly for the last ten years, are cyclical. Comparison leads to all kinds of fears…If unchecked, they become a vicious cycle of an un-winnable battle.
But you know what else is cyclical?
Grace, forgiveness and redemption.
His Grace is enough when I am not.
And I am redeemed. I don’t have to win the battle because He already has.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. ~Romans 8:37