What Does It Mean To Be Truly Free?

I avoid writing this post.
I tell myself that you will think I’m ridiculous.
I convince myself that you will make assumptions and judge me.
Every time this insecurity surfaces I shove it back down in attempts to choke out its message.

Why do I invalidate those things that make me feel small.
Why do I continually dismiss my feelings?
What if someone else feels the exact same way and by my admission knows they are not alone?
Social Media sites
So, here it is…
There are times when I allow social media to determine, not only my mood, but my self worth.

As I scrolled through my “feed” this morning, I found myself becoming more and more hurt by the fact that someone I was once closer to than I am now, had not invited me to attend one of the most important days in her life.

The more pictures I saw from the event, the more upset I became.
What is wrong with me?! I thought.
I wouldn’t have been able to attend anyway.
Why is this such a big deal?

It goes back to the fact that I’m a people pleaser. I want you to like me even if I don’t like you.
I want everyone to want me to be at everything, even if I can’t be there.
I want the opportunity to decline.

I realize how this sounds, believe me.
I would understand if you stopped reading now.

However, it’s very important that I bring this hideous character defect into the light.
It’s crucial (for my own development) that I’m brutally honest with myself. Not mean. Honest. They are two different things though at times people confuse one for the other.

Here is what I’m discovering…
This all points back to my need for approval.
I’m an affirmation junkie.
The more I get, the more I want.
I become absolutely drunk on the approval of others.

And then, when I’m alone, I’m terrified that I cannot live up to my own expectations. Fear will make decisions for me if I allow it to. I will be spiritually paralyzed if I don’t act quickly and thoroughly.

The problem with this is that I want my life to glorify God. I want my spirit to reflect that of the Creator. I want to make Him known to everyone who comes in contact with me. And I’ve been in recovery long enough to know that, as long as I’m keeping a secret, I can’t do that effectively. As long as I’m hiding from a reality that affects my life and the way I interact with others, I can’t be useful. Not the way I want to be anyway. Not the way that’s relatable to others in different seasons.

So, here I am. Standing before you. Admitting weakness. Acknowledging feelings that I know will change. Emotions that I will probably not even have tomorrow. I’m feeling exposed and “found out.” because I am willingly admitting that most of the time I feel completely inadequate all while exhibiting confidence.

I may be mortified tomorrow at having posted this. But for today, I say to the woman reading this, feeling like I’m telling your story, “I understand. You’re not alone. You don’t have to be afraid. You just have to be willing to recognize the affliction (whatever it may be) and take positive actions steps forward.

When Beauty is a Beast

Psalm139Some days… when standing before my reflection, stripped of everything… motives, guilt, expectations, past images, I can honestly look at my body and speak the words of Psalm 139 with great certainty.

I do well most of the time, but when the body image monster sneaks up on me, it does so with a vengeance. I go from being comfortable in my skin to feeling like the reflection in a fun-house mirror. I wonder whose body I’m trapped in and when the merger occurred. I see my curves as too curvy. My hair appears dull. My laugh lines are deep and obvious. My image is distorted.

It’s no secret that my relationship with food and exercise is less than ideal.

(I’m honored to be writing for Leading and Loving It today. Will you join me over there and read the rest of this post?)

When I’m Famous

Tiny tiaraA question from a beautiful young friend sent my thoughts into overdrive. The question was this… “Why don’t more people follow me on Twitter?
My answer was robotic,
“Well, is your account public or do people have to ask to follow you?”
“Do you post 1-3 times per day or just occasionally?”
“Do you complain a lot?”
“Are you saying things that interest, inspire and/or encourage the people reading?”

I then realized, as she stared blankly back at me, she didn’t want a generic answer from a marketing perspective. She wanted me to reassure her that she is worth following. To look at her and say, “You are worthy of being heard and seen. You are worthy of acceptance.”

Has it really come to this? Do we measure our worth by how many people follow or unfollow us each day? Do we evaluate the meaning of our experience by how many “likes” it receives? Are we grading our worth by how many views our creativity brings? I look at my stats multiple times per day. Views on my blog, likes on my Facebook posts, followers in my Twitter feed, repins on Pinterest.

I’m an affirmation junkie! I would bathe in affirmation. I would eat it for breakfast, take deep breaths of it during meditation and swallow two pills of it before bed.

I’ve said it before…my insane thirst for approval is one of my most glaring character defects. It’s a monster disguised as sincerity. It’s sneaky and cunning. It says, “I want you to like me even if I don’t like you.” Because that somehow makes me feel as if I matter.

How many followers are enough? If I become famous and all of you know my name, is it enough? If my face is plastered on magazines and talk shows as “the next big thing” is it enough? If the richest, most well-known people on the planet call me their friend, am I satisfied?

No darlings. I’m not satisfied. I want more. My appetite only grows bigger and more insatiable. What a hideous thought!

So what’s the solution?

A daily reprieve. That’s right! Each day, returning to grace. In the morning, before the day begins, saying, “Today, I will not measure my value by the numbers in my feed. Tomorrow, I may. Yesterday, I struggled. But today…Today, I am measured by the One who created me with great purpose. (You knew I couldn’t finish this without playing the God card!)”

Is it hard? Yes! Will I fail? Yes! I’m the worst offender at this. I wish I couldn’t even see how many of you read my blog today. However, there is no better way to combat my internal monster than to acknowledge and confront it.

So, here is my declaration. For the next 30 days, I will focus on promoting others more than myself. It will be difficult when fear says that without self-promotion I will fail to achieve. Here’s the cool part, truth says, “All that matters is what my heavenly father says.” And He adores me. So you’ll have to excuse my lack of concern for your approval. I’m focused on emanating a light that long outshines that of worldly fame and recognition.

Don’t know where to start? I’ll help.
Read “Love Does” by Bob Goff. Download the audible version (it’s read by the author whose enthusiasm is contagious.)
Help end exploitation of others by joining the efforts of organizations like Wellspring Living.
Experience redemption and grace in action with POTSC.
Support efforts to reach those who need it most with Sole Hope.

I would love it if you came back here and told us about your experience, but that is not a requirement. The important part is that we do it. We get outside of ourselves and our numbers, discovering more than we ever would have otherwise.

What are you waiting for? Start now. Begin anywhere. Blessings and light go with you.