Anytime someone chooses honesty and authenticity it’s risky. Each of us have different “lenses” due to life experiences and/or faith that we evaluate others through.
Although being authentic and real may feel risky, but it’s far more satisfying and freeing to be “you” and let go of what others think you should be or need to be.
Many of us live under layers of fear, shame, and insecurity, exhausted with trying to cover up the ugly, imperfect parts of ourselves – it’s called the Performance Trap or perfectionism. We believe if we can be good enough, smart enough, funny enough, or successful enough people will like us (or we will finally like ourselves).
If you’ve ever tried to “not care” anymore about what others think and learn new behaviors and responses, you know all too well that it can be tough for an old dog to learn new tricks.
Tough, but not impossible.
So, to be real with you, my friend, I’ve finally come up for air long enough to write this (I’ve been writing it for 12 weeks if that tells you anything!).
Seasons of perpetual overwhelm can tempt you to believe you are the only one drowning here. You know you’ve really gone under when the thought of treading water seems like a massive step forward.
When life circumstances knock you back a step or two (or ten) it’s scary to tell your friends, even your closest ones, that you’d rather just sleep all day or worse! We fear they might think we’ve lost it and immediately respond by suggesting depression medication or a counselor.
After pushing through and sharing honestly with some friends, I was surprised to find out that most all of us have been here at some season of our life. We work ourselves up to believing we are alone and that our case is highly isolated. “There is really something wrong with me – maybe I’m crazy!” is what we hear and then we go into overdrive to make sure no one sees we are struggling. It’s the Performance Trap at its finest!
I forgot how easy it is to park it in neutral and just survive instead of move forward and living life. For days, weeks, and years after my son went to heaven I experienced this internal battle. Everyone’s life seemed to be flying by me and I was stuck in my pain and grief. I wanted to throw in the towel and quite truthfully, end it all. That seemed easier. It was equally as awful to live in a dark place, not allowing Hope to flood my heart. My pain was so great that the alternative of “trying to live again” seemed way harder, exhausting, and not worth it.
But after another recent round in the ring with trials, I’ve concluded that “tapping out” of being vulnerable and authentic is not actually easier. Tapping out of life, pain, or trials is a great deception. Although we may try many things to fill the void or numb our sorrows, there is no escape. And don’t think that just because you don’t run to drugs, alcohol, or pornography that you don’t numb out. We all do it!
Numbing out is anything you or I do to avoid being vulnerable and feeling our way through our situation. Your escape may be spending hours scrolling through news feeds on Facebook because it seems easier to live someone else’s life than your own. Or you may overeat, spend money, play video games (or IPhone games), bury your nose in a book, or work late every night.
Value in the Valley
My life since that day has ebbed and flowed with trials as well as joys. Just because you go through a “doosey” of a trial doesn’t make you instantly immune to all other problems. However, I do think it gives you an opportunity to gain new perspective on life and a deep understanding of the value that come from our valleys.
I have to admit, it’s easy to stay energized and excited on the mountaintop. And although I am fully aware that I can’t live every single day on a mountaintop, when challenges hit I’m oftentimes surprised, angry, or even derailed for a bit.
That’s not how I want to live my life – I want to be steady, unshakable, and full of faith, confident in the goodness and the love of God.
I’ve experienced the valley over the course of the last year in business, relationships, and my family. We’ve experienced some lows in our businesses, gotten our house in order so to speak (which is soo good, yet can be tough to navigate), and God brought a new 6-year-old to our home right after the new year began. We received the call on New Year’s Day at 10pm. Ironically, we had spent the whole morning planning out our entire business calendar for 2014. Haha! God has such a sense of humor sometimes and loves to show us that His plans may not always be our plans, but they are better! 🙂
She is a precious treasure with a BIG destiny that we’ve been entrusted with for a time. Her intersection into our lives has changed the course of our family forever. I think you and I both understand that change can be scary, stretching, and extremely challenging. On the other side of the same coin, change is healing, character building, and life-producing.
But it’s still change.
And that doesn’t mean I like it…
For this girl who grew up in the same house her whole life and went to the same private school for 14 years, change has never been on the top of my “Favorite-Things-to-Do-in-Life” list. It takes me a bit to get acclimated to new seasons or challenges and that process is not always easy.
Boy have I ever gotten a front row seat to the lesson that God’s “grace is sufficient!” It truly is ENOUGH to get us through any valley. I didn’t want to fully embrace or believe that after Hosea went to heaven. I wanted to find another way. If I embraced this Truth, it meant I had to live again because He had given me “enough” to keep going. I think I half accepted this Truth and half numbed out to it, resistant to practice it fully. But this new little girl in our home broke open that part of my heart and exposed it.
Why am I talking about a valley and a child in need in the same paragraph? Because of my own selfishness and unhealed pain that God used her to expose. You see, God love us so much that He will allow things in our life that will give us a deeper revelation of Himself. But remember this truth, friend:
He never reveals what he doesn’t intend to heal.
If God reveals an area that needs growth in you, it’s not to condemn you or push you to perform for Him. It’s so that He can heal it, restore it, and make all things new. I may have thought Nathan and I were saying “yes” to taking in a child who had been abused, neglected, and needed love. But what we really said “yes” to was heart surgery.
Don’t get me wrong – there have been plenty of giggles, fun, and positive growth. But there have been equally as many challenges and struggles.
I see now my battle for months has primarily been with shame – shame over anyone knowing I was struggling. Lies swirled around in my head: “You’re not supposed to feel overwhelmed. Look at all she’s been through! Suck it up and pull it together woman!” “Look at those people who adopt 8 kids. You shouldn’t be feeling this with just one!” (Those were the performance monsters spewing their lies again.)
In the past, every time I’ve seen a video about adoption, fostering, or being a safe family I would bawl like a baby wanting to help those kids in need. So why weren’t those strong emotions of dying to myself and serving wholeheartedly ever-present in my day to day reality? More shame.
Adjusting to a new person, navigating my 3 kid’s emotions, and dropping 999 of the 1000 balls I was juggling left me feeling inadequate as a wife, mom, business woman, and friend. I truly began to feel like I wasn’t doing anything “right” and got to where I wanted to sleep all day (that’s what the Performance Trap will do to you – run you ragged trying to live up to yours or others expectations). Of course, I didn’t have that luxury of sleeping all day on summer break with 4 children, but I definitely wasn’t my normal, energetic self, doing all the fun summer crafts and projects I wanted to do. More shame.
So I did the next best thing to sleeping the day away – I went into a self-induced isolation. I fell off the grid and went dark for a while. I felt torn between truly being grateful for all God is doing in our lives in this new season (knowing that was the “right” response) and the day to day emotional roller coaster I was on that was telling me the complete opposite.
I have to tell you friend, from my front row seat, isolation never produces positive fruit in our lives. We are created to need others and no matter if your destiny is to take a stage and speak to thousands, work from a cubicle, or stay home and raise your babies you and I will never completely realize our potential, calling, and purpose in life on our own. It’s just not how God created us. Just as the brain or the lungs can’t survive outside of the body, neither can we thrive apart from being a part of a “body” of people.
Due to allowing stress, performance, and shame to have a heyday in my life, I’ve gotten very off track this past year in a lot of areas of my life. I’m not just talking about my weight and health, although that’s a part of it. So I’ll first admit that I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone I was off track physically because I feared responses I’ve gotten before, “You’re the BURST-Queen. You don’t ever struggle with your weight!” “You’re so small anyway. Don’t complain about a few pounds.” Or sometimes I feel the pressure (I’m sure self-imposed, again!) of “I’m supposed to be the “healthy” one or the person with the answers – I can’t let anyone know I am exhausted or living on coffee right now.”
Wow! Do you see how shame sneaks its ugly head into every area of our lives and tries to keep us locked in the bondage of our lies, fears, and perceptions instead of moving forward towards life, healing, and community? I wonder if I’m alone in this (please, oh please comment so I don’t feel alone!)?? 🙂
This valley has led me to a new season – I am calling the next 180 days for myself a season of RESET. I fell off the bandwagon, but I’m getting back on. I will be pushing RESET on my health, my hormones, my faith, and my thinking, among other things. I will be intentionally watching for how shame tries to get back in and I’ll be learning to defeat it with authenticity. I’ll be honestly journaling the ways I see myself reverting back to performance and striving and how I am intentionally pushing RESET on those old habits. I may do a detox, get back on track with drinking tea instead of coffee, or find some new business practices that keep me energized and true to who I am, not what society, Facebook, or my To Do list says I should be.
I will be blogging on this journey and you are welcome to do any part of a RESET with me. We all need to push the RESET button at times – that could be in any area. You’ll hear ideas of what I’m doing from week to week and I’ll post what others of you are doing as well (if you send them my way or tell me in the comments below!).
Honestly, I’ve been scared to put this out there because I wasn’t ready for accountability. I really don’t enjoy accountability. Mentally it’s always scared me – not because I don’t want someone else to know what I’m doing but because I’m such an overachiever I’m scared of myself at times and the high goals I set. What if I don’t hit them? It’s not about what others will think of me but what I’ll think of myself (sigh). I guess I should add that to the list of areas I’m RESETing – inviting others into the process with me to hold me to realistic goals and encourage me that I’m enough even if I don’t hit them.
I’ve gained a few pounds, not eaten as well as I could, felt like I’ve dropped some balls in my business, not responded to my kids and husband like I want to, and I have allowed some toxic things into my thinking and beliefs.
But I’m not looking backwards anymore – I’m walking forward, without shame. There is freedom from feeling perpetually overwhelmed. The is Life that is available to us all…if we choose it.
My head is above water enough to finally see the tremendous value in this valley and I can wholeheartedly say “I’m grateful.” I will never be the same person I was before I stepped foot on this journey. The beautiful little girl we brought into our home was simply the catalyst of something God already had in motion – bringing me to the end of me and a true heart revelation that Jesus is enough.
My valley has become my mountaintop. I wouldn’t trade the revelations I’ve had, the freedom I’m finding, and the trust I’m building with God for the ease of avoiding trials and pain.
So this is my invitation to you.
In what areas has your valley derailed you? What do you want to RESET?
Don’t know where to start? I’ll be blogging more so check this page for new links to specific RESETs I’m doing, but these might help you get started.
- Your perspective when the bottom falls out?
- Or if you need to start by pushing RESET on laughter, read about The Day the Bottom Fell Out for me! My pain, your laughter. I’m ok with that! 🙂
- Hormones a little out of balance?
- Tired of not fitting into your jeans?
- Want to have healthy kids and RESET their immune systems?
- Ready to RESET your fitness by scared to try “one more thing”?
- Your eating? I’m no Betty Crocker and won’t pretend to have the kitchen thing mastered. But here are a few recipes that have helped me. I’ll be adding more as I push RESET with you!
Come back soon and I’ll tell you the very first two things I’m RESETing.
If you join the HealthyOates RESET, add #ResetWithMe to your Facebook or Instagram posts so I can find you! I would love to see what you are pushing RESET on.