This week’s post is brought to us by blogger and teacher, Beth Parent McMillian. Beth is a teacher, writer, chocolate lover, mix-tape master, and mom who wants to be a Broadway star when she grows up (should she choose to grow up). She would love to meet you, tell you you’re awesome, and dedicate a song to you on the radio. Check out her blog at Onward Hoe!
1. You are enough.
Why do we as women always think we should be more? More organized, more punctual, more ahead of the game, more in shape, more fashionable, more carefree, more settled down, more trusting, more discerning, and just generally better. No really, why do we do this?
There are goals, and there is shame. If you want to set a goal to become more organized so that you can take better care of the people and things that have been entrusted to you in life, then you should make a plan and do it. But you should know the whole time that there is nothing wrong with you as a human being because your house is cluttered. If you think you should be more organized because your house doesn’t look like Pinterest, I have a secret for you: (whispering behind my hand) Those people are hiding all their mess in another room when they take those pictures.
For every woman who says she’s not organized enough, there’s another woman who says she’s too structured. For every woman who says she’s not trusting enough, there’s another woman who says she is too gullible. For every woman who thinks she’s not enough, there’s another woman who thinks she’s too much.
Here are some legitimate (non-rhetorical) questions I’d like to invite you to consider:
Is it possible for us to let ourselves just be who we are, and let other women be who they are?
Is it possible for us to believe that we’re all OK?
Is it possible for us to use our strengths and depend on others to use their strengths in areas where we are weak?
Is it possible that weakness in one person is good because it allows another person to use their strength?
Is it possible that the area where you think you are too much is precisely the area where someone else needs a little extra help, and maybe you are perfect for the job?
You may be tempted at this point to push back saying, “You don’t understand. I really am too __________.” If you behave in a way that hurts people (including yourself) or makes them feel that who they are is not good, that might be an “area of growth potential” for you, but I still believe your “too much” is a strength that can be used for good if wielded in love.
My guess, though, is that you aren’t hurtful. My guess is that somewhere along the line, someone – someone you trusted, someone who had some authority in your life, someone you believed had your best interest at heart, someone you hoped would accept you – told, advised or asked you to stop doing something. Maybe your mom got annoyed with you for making a mess, maybe a teacher or Bible study leader told you to give other people a chance to talk, maybe a boy you had a crush on said you were one of the guys (ouch), maybe society at large told you girls don’t act that way. And the suggestion to stop doing was translated in your brain as stop being. “Stop leaving a mess” became “You’re too disorganized.” “Give others a chance to talk” became “You’re too assertive.” “You’re one of the guys” became “You’re too masculine.”
I have good news for you, love. People can be wrong, and those people were wrong about you. I spent years believing I was too much because one teacher tried to reign in my creativity, because one leader told me I talked too much, because one boy told me I was intimidating, because the faith community I grew up in told me women are supposed to be quiet and not have jobs. I spent years wishing I were different. And then I realized that I was exhausted, and that I was so deeply loved that I broke down in tears every time I thought about it. Then I apologized for my tears, and it took months of good friends telling me that my vulnerability was beautiful before I believed them and started accepting the fact that I was loved.
You are not too much. Your strength is good and powerful when you use it to love.
3. Who you are is good.
A friend of mine has a counseling practice, and she says one of the most common things she hears from women is that they feel they aren’t good enough. I’ve heard this as well from friends, and it just breaks my heart. I know these women, and I know that they are amazing, and it makes me very sad to know that they think they aren’t.
In listening to dozens of women tell me their stories, I’ve seen some patterns come out of almost all of them, so I think no matter who you are, they are likely true for you. I know you don’t know me, and you have no reason to trust me. But if your spirit stirs when you read these words, I would invite you to ask God what he has to say about you. Then don’t take my word for it; take his. You are amazing. You are courageous. You are strong. You are tender. You are passionate. You are loving. You are lovely. You are loved. You are lovable. You are faithful. You are fruitful. You are exactly who you are supposed to be. You are good.
4. You bear the image of God.
It blows my mind that there are people in the world today who have the ability to authenticate works of art, relics, fossils, and every other old thing in the world whose creator is no longer alive. How? How do they know the difference between a vase from the Ming Dynasty and one from the Qing Dynasty? How can they distinguish between a real Monet painting and a copycat? It’s because every creator leaves his/her mark. Every creation bears signs that it was created by a specific person in a specific time and place.
You bear the image of the God who created you. You carry some aspect of him in your personality, and you offer to the people in your life a unique combination of his character traits. No one else is quite the same mixture of love, compassion, wisdom, kindness, gentleness, strength, justice, mercy, grace, humor, anger, and creativity as you are.
5. The world needs you.
Because you uniquely bear the image of God in a way that only you can, you play a specific role in the world. Scripture describes this as being part of the body of Christ. Imagine that your left pinky toe decided it was too insignificant to function anymore – it went numb and limp and just gave up. It’s just one toe, right? But wouldn’t it feel weird? Wouldn’t it feel like something was missing, like something was just not quite right? Sure, you could function, but it would bother you.
Without you being exactly who you are, who you were created to be, the world can function, but something is just not quite right. We don’t need you to be someone else (that’s what other people are for). We need you to be YOU. No one else can do that.