A few months ago, I had an epiphany before I went to bed one evening, specifically about becoming a better person. Within these thoughts, I realized that becoming a better person is not simply just changing my behaviors and disciplines. At the beginning of every year, I make goals, lists, mantras, and plans, and for this year, I had my words for 2014: no excuses. (A recent blog was about vulnerability and embracing your pretty and ugly to be free to be who you are. That is not to imply that you should stay stagnate. But it is an encouragement to embrace who you are right now for the sake of embracing who you are becoming.)
For many years, I’ve always told myself about my various flaws savoring heavily of a victim mentality, “Well, it’s because… he said… she said… they did this.” I couldn’t really see past my own nose. Until last year, I started seeing a counselor. Not one from my church or a person who gives counsel or a pastor, but a legit, certified, studied-for-a-degree-with-a-degree counselor who also happened to be a Christian. In one of my first sessions with her, I’ll never forget the words, she replied to one of my sob stories with,
“When are you going to give yourself permission to live?”
And it’s true for everyone who has negative habits, we usually don’t know we have them until someone else points it out. And how humiliating it is to be told you are doing something wrong. That’s one huge reason why I love my counselor. Somehow she manages to tell me how awesome I am and at the same time trying to break reality into my thick skull without ever shaming me. Nearing the end of last year, I made a decision to live every moment in the moment, fully present, and not show up with excuses. Obviously, I’m still working on this aspect, but I am tired of showing up with excuses. “I’m sorry, I’m here but I forgot…” Or the continual, “I can’t… because…” and continual fear or shame driven sentences. Having boundaries is one thing, making excuses is entirely different. And I realize that I have missed out on a whole lot of life already at my age because I make numerous amounts of excuses without giving myself the permission to be myself, make mistakes and live life.
I realized on this particular evening, I don’t want to get better at web design or a better dog mom or a better friend or a better at music or writing. I want to be a better person at the core of who I am. (Now, realize, I do want to be better at all of these things. Please… just continue reading.) All of these are things that I just stated flow out of the core of who I am. If the core of who I am is being rejected, if it is broken, if it is ashamed, if it continually makes excuses, then the rest of my life is going to be an overflow of that. Allowing excuses equalling to fear outbursts or withdrawals, or cultivating brokenness resulting in self-rejection and hatred, or promotion of shaming myself resulting in insecurity tendencies. I’ve reached a point in my life where I’ve realized – this has got to stop. I am in control of my emotions and my behaviors.
Since that evening, my life has been shifting. I don’t want to be better at eating breakfast in the morning, I mean, let’s get real. I love food, but I love sleep more in the morning… However, it affects the rest of my day! My energy levels are much different when I eat breakfast versus not eating it. And then I just feel like I’ve disrespected myself. That’s when I realize, it’s not just about eating breakfast or energy, it’s about valuing and respecting myself as a real person. I matter as much as if I had a friend stay over and I get up early to make sure they have breakfast. If everyone else matters so much, then I matter just as much. Taking care of me and my inner health is more important as a foundation for my relationships than just the behavior and practice of eating breakfast in the morning.
As a culture, we’ve easily learned to temporarily solve the issue by putting a bandaid on it and making ourselves do things for the sake of discipline. For some, they numb themselves to the point where they are able to practice the art of ignoring and are able to do things for the sake of discipline. I can’t do that. I want to be wholehearted and fully engaged in every single activity – from cooking breakfast to brain storming my next huge idea. I am a person who enjoys doing things that have a deeper meaning, something that my heart and soul can engage in. If it doesn’t have meaning, then it’s truly hard for me to engage fully.
I want to engage, wholeheartedly, with no shame, in life, in love and show up fully. Maybe there are excuses you’ve been making.
I would encourage these few things:
- Search your heart – What are your core desires? Who do you want to be? Who has God told you are? What does Jesus look like?
- With the above answers, start writing down your aspirations. At the core of who Jesus is, he is love. And from that flows his compassion, his grace, his passion.
- What does giving yourself permission to live look like for you?
Find yourself a friend and chat with them about this. Ask for their help.
Don’t live your life expecting it to show up for you – you show up to it.
A few books that have helped me: