We Are Called to be His

“When we let go of the things of this world, His light is shown through us, and unto others.”

There are people. And then there are the things that we believe define those people.For example: There is Me. But-I’ve defined myself(in accordance with society) by my history, things I treasure, morals, ideas, material possessions, plans for the future, the list goes on.

Something I’ve realized with the help of some personal development, is that I have spent a lifetime identifying with the things I just listed, but they are not who I am. I’m not my history, my treasures, my morals, my ideas, my stuff, or my plans for the future.
I’m just me.

I’ve thought about it like this:
Jesus wants to shine through me(through all of us). But-I’m focused on carrying the things of this world, blocking God’s light from shining through me and unto those I interact with. 

When I let go of those things-expectation, fear, distraction, the past, the future, and I trust God with them, there is space for the light to shine. I’m no longer a shadow, but translucent.

When I let go of those things- I am calm. I am kind and compassionate. I’m loving and honest. I’m at peace, and I try to share that peace with others.

I don’t want the worries of this world to hold me back from being “ME”. Not only am I better able to please God, but I’m overwhelmed with contentment and joy for life. I falter in that goal every. Single. Day but I’m not perfect, and I try harder the next opportunity. 

We are not called to belong to this world, we are called to be His.

This is my experience, but it’s not about me. I’m sharing what I’ve been going through in hopes that you’ll join me. Maybe you’ll be inspired to see things from a new point of view. 

I’d just encouraging anyone reading this to think-is something holding you back from being “you”? Have you defined yourself based on the things of this world? What if you defined yourself from God’s perspective? Perhaps then you would realize how loved and cherished you truly are. ❤️

I’m Not Perfect, But I’m Not Trying

I had all but lost my faith when I started making a serious effort to find it again. I quit making excuses about church, I started praying despite feeling so distant, and I started to read The Purpose Driven Life. I just wanted to feel connected again. 

And eventually, in my reading, I realized a basic truth about myself: 

God made me.

  I mean, I’m not being cocky here, but seriously. He already knew all of the details, and chose to create me-Because something about my being is necessary for this world. Despite the obstacles in my life, the mistakes I’ve made, and the people I’ve hurt: I’m still needed. I’m not useless.

Actually, I’m so far from useless, that the creator of the world declared me loved, and needed.

And the same is true for Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

But it really sank in for me. I was always trying to follow God because it was what I was supposed to do. I never realized that he chose me and that I had bigger things planned for my life than to live and die. 

I’ve definitely felt shame for who I am. I’m kind of loud, sometimes I’m really shy, I’m not skinny enough, not pretty enough. I have anxiety. I worry a lot about things that shouldn’t phase me. Sometimes I get depressed. I’m not always the best wife. I’m not always the best friend. I’m not always the best Mom, best housekeeper, best cook, the list goes ON.

I’m never perfect.

But I know God’s intention for me was never “perfection”. He did not create us to be perfect, he created us to be masterpieces, all working together for his plan. 

We can beat ourselves up all we want for not living up to our own expectations, but if we live for God, we’re serving our purpose in this crazy world. 

So I’ve been going through this phase of kinda wholeheartedly embracing the “disaster” that is me. And it is SO freeing to live for God instead of myself! 👌🏼

Toxic Thinking is the Enemy

Innocence as a child is such a gift because the more we learn about the world, the more it chips away at us until we feel like we are what’s left of the person we used to be. 

 I remember the first time I really felt personally attacked: a girl on my bus used all of her books to fill up the seats so I wouldn’t have anywhere to sit. And when I got off the bus that day, she yelled at me out the window: “BITCH!” 

Now, to be fair, she was a good friend of someone I had hurt. So I’m not saying I didn’t have it coming. But what I had done wasn’t as deliberate and personal as my new everyday reality. And that girl made me see myself so differently, as she spent years pointing out my every flaw.
I’m not throwing a pity party for myself and I don’t blame her for anything, because I’ve hurt people without good reason, too. 

The point is- eventually I started to agree with her. And I tried harder and harder to be someone she couldn’t find flaws in. I started wearing makeup, I sucked in my stomach, I stressed over what I was wearing, I tried to be clever when I spoke, I tried different hairstyles and at 12 years old, I was constantly checking a mirror to make sure nothing was out of place. 
Of course, I couldn’t please her. And my response to her criticism changed the way I thought about myself. As anyone who has been to high school knows, there were a lot of people after her to keep influencing me.
For the past several years, I haven’t needed a “bully” because I’ve done the job myself.

Fast forward to now. 
Yesterday I was at a first birthday party for a little girl born just after my son. Her mom and I have grown to be great friends so even though my husband was away and could not attend with us, I was really excited to celebrate this milestone!

I’m not really social. So I spent much of the first hour there watching my son play with a baby gate and stumble around. There were lots of people and I talked with a few but I’m not really one to put myself out there. 

(Normally, I’d feel isolated in this circumstance and cling to my phone or start to sweat or get really nervous, feeling like other people were looking at me and wondering why I was alone and so awkward. Normally, I’d use the fact that I was at that party alone to question my worth, to hate myself for being so introverted, to decide that I don’t have friends, to convince myself that I’m incapable of functioning, and turn the entire thing into a miserable experience.)

BUT, I’m practicing the joy of being in the moment, in the here and now, and not allowing thoughts to be my identity.
(I’ve been listening to a lot of talks by Eckhart Tolle that are really changing my life. If you’re interested, I’d love to send you some links.)

So instead of reacting as I normally would to the situation, I enjoyed a chance to watch my son goof around and play and I said a mental “Thank You” to God for a boy that loves to figure stuff out. 

When I got in the car to leave, I caught my reflection in the mirror and realized that my nose had been embarrassingly red from the cold I had a few days ago! I was mortified. “THAT IS WHAT I LOOKED LIKE FOR THE LAST THREE HOURS!?” I thought. Rudolph the Red Nose Ashley. (At least it was a winter themed party?)

 (And Normally, I’d use this situation to remind myself that I’m gross. I’m not pretty and people probably thought there was something wrong with me. Yadayadayada-it would go on all day. And the next time I went out, I’d be worried about my appearance.)

But I reminded myself that the moment I was so worried about(those few hours at the party) had passed. It was over. There was no going back in time to fix my makeup and redo the day. And even if there was, it wasn’t that important. Because really, who cares what I look like? 

And I know this all sounds really goofy, but these thoughts are subconscious and I think a lot of us do this to ourselves. We look back on a moment and think “stupid, stupid, stupid-Why didn’t I do that differently!?”

BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER

It’s over. It’s done. Let it go. 
Instead of spending the rest of my day playing that party over and over in my mind and hating myself for my social awkwardness and critically judging myself for the things I said in an effort to be social, and wondering if anyone realized how terrible my nose looked——-I let it go. 

I said a silent prayer to thank God for that little girl, and for a chance to get out of the house and see friends. And I enjoyed the drive home.
It doesn’t matter what’s in the past, or what anyone else thinks. Because worrying about those two things gets us nowhere, except into a pattern of self hatred.

It may sound extreme, but later I even thought to thank Him for the good skin that I do have. There are a lot of women out there with chronic acne, or burn scars, or major issues that I have never had to consider. How fortunate am I that my biggest potential concern is temporary embarrassment from overuse of tissues!?!?

The biggest thing is-thinking like this is allowing me so much freedom. I find myself able to enjoy so much more because instead of over-thinking, I am grounded in the present. I am HERE and nowhere else. It’s almost like making lemonade out of lemons but instead, I’m just thankful for these hands that work well enough to hold lemons.

Part of me wants to worry that ya’ll are going to think I’ve lost my darn mind-but, the rest of me realizes that’s the point. I have sort of lost my mind-at least the toxic part that has always fueled hate in my life. For the first time since I was 12 years old, I’m free.

Unapologetically 

Once upon a time, I existed and loved life unapologetically. 

And then I grew up.I learned to hate the things I once loved about myself. Everything about me seemed to fall short of everyone else’s expectations and soon enough, my own.

But I wanted to feel special. I needed to feel like someone cared. And in trying to fulfill that need, I did a lot of stupid, stupid things. All the while, forgetting the Creator that handcrafted me and cared more deeply for me than any person ever could.
I have never let myself forget about those times that I have fallen short.
I’ve spent entire days thinking about things that happened years ago and punishing myself for poor decision making. I’ve led myself to believe that because of my past, I’m as worthless as I felt in those moments. 
How could I ever be a good wife with skeletons like those in my closet?

How could I ever be a good mother?

Even in the moments I’ve felt “good enough”, I always remind myself that there were a lot of times in my past when I was a crappy human-when I hurt people that didn’t deserve to be hurt, when I disrespected others, and when I disrespected myself. And since I WAS a crappy human, I must just be a crappy human. 

I have let that story and my ‘shortcomings’ define me. Even in my shining moments, I’ve convinced myself that I’m faking it because, “I’m not good enough, and my past is the proof.”

I’ve always been stuck on defining myself.
But if anything is going to define me, it’s this moment I’m in right now and I’m going to make it count by simply enjoying it. 
When I spend entire days dwelling on the past, I continue to give my time and energy to the past. What a waste!
I’m still a little girl. I’m still filled with a desire to love unconditionally, to laugh happily, and live unapologetically. Deep in my bones, I want to be the very person that God created me to be-without any hesitation. Deep down, I know that I am so much more than past decisions. I know it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about me, because they’re not qualified to judge me, and I know it doesn’t matter what I think about other people, because I’m not designed to judge them either!
I’m not who I was 10 years ago, or five years ago, or yesterday-Because that girl is gone-she doesn’t exist. She’s just a memory.

In this moment, I am a lover of life. 

I’m relaxing on the couch with my dog on my lap. I can feel his deep breathing as he sleeps. I’m curling my toes because it’s a little chilly on my back porch. Occasionally, I’m pausing for a very intentional sip of coffee. I’m doing all of this generally mindless stuff, and I’m doing it with intention and thanks. I’m feeling it. I’m allowing it to consume me. All the while, I’m thanking God for life and simple moments like this. 

Normally, I’d be typing a blog as I stress over what to write, and wondering how you’ll perceive it. Will you judge me for the reasons behind my words? Will you decipher my history and think less of me? More importantly, am I thinking less of me?

I’ve carried the weight of “my story” believing that it is all that defines me, for far too long.

I am not my story, I am not my past, I’m not whatever you think I am, and I am not going to let anything but right now define me. I want to live intentionally, and unapologetically be ME.

 Because, God did not create me to be anyone else.