I'm a recovering people-pleaser. I say recovering because I'm still a work in process. I recognize the "addiction" and am making strides to move away from it.
It has been a personality trait from an early age. Honestly, I can't remember it ever not being part of me.
I was the good student, the teacher's pet from the start. I had this "skill" even as early as Kindergarten. I had this drive to do everything fast, perfect, and NEVER wanted to rock the boat. I never wanted to disappoint ANYONE. So many of my earliest childhood memories are most vividly remembered when they involved being the best at something and the most painful ones seemed to be when I wasn't. B's were NEVER good enough. I was anything BUT athletic, so I made up for it academically and by behavior. Partly it came from a VERY strict upbringing and the fact that I didn't EVER want to be in trouble. My dad definitely didn't put up with nonsense when we were little! Love and affection seemed to be connected to good behavior and excelling. Maybe I could have relaxed and would have been loved just as well, but in my heart I didn't really know if that was the case. (Now, I KNOW that I would have been loved unconditionally!)
Fast forward many years and I think that personality trait has continued----to such a fault.
I'm so ridiculously hard on my self. I too often---WAY too often---get so caught up in what I think people might think of me. Even worse, I get so completely caught up in my "own head" with my own demands and own expectations.
It is ridiculous. I KNOW it. My heart knows better than to get wrapped up in it, but I still find myself "people-pleasing". I even find myself "God-pleasing"----and just not stopping and accepting His grace.
In these struggles I've been facing these last weeks specifically, so much heart change has been taking place. I admit very openly, it has been incredibly unsettling. Yet, at the same time there is such an overwhelming peace in the middle of the chaos. That sounds crazy when I type the words. I've been ANYTHING except calm lately in actuality. Yet, in the very center of who I am, there is calm. There is calm because I know deep in my heart that the chaos is pointing me to where I need to be. I need to be in the center of His will, I need the redirection, I need the heart changes that He is initiating.
See, in my desire to please everyone, I've lost track. I've lost track of who I am and what my role is. I've very much been reminded VIVIDLY that it's time to bring my focus back to the ones that matter most.
I bought into the lie. ("hook, line, and sinker" us southern girls would say):
Being a mom just isn't enough.
Though my heart KNOWS that it is and BELIEVES that it is, my actions and thoughts haven't lined up in that direction lately.
The world doesn't value the ministry of motherhood. People in my life will never understand the damage they leave behind when they say that "it" isn't enough. I let their words and their judgments hold me back. Their words HURT, but it is MY FAULT for listening. NO LONGER!
I've been running in circles trying to balance "everything else". I don't want to disappoint others or God by not being enough, ministering enough, serving enough, or reaching out enough.
I've found myself in the place that I have nothing left to give. I've drained my own resources.
IT REALLY IS ENOUGH to be "just" a mom, IF I'm giving all of me to that task.
Right now, I'm not. It's time for a change.
It's time to be satisfied with MY God-given role in life----the roles that no one else can fulfill. I'm the only wife to my husband and the only mother to my children. (I've been repeating this statement often---writing it, reading it, etc... as many times a day as necessary).
My own past has driven me to overextend myself. I HAVE to be superhero mom. I don't want my kids to suffer from the same scars that I have from growing up and specifically from recent years. In the quest to break that cycle and to give them all of me so that they can see the love of Christ and the love I have for them, I've dropped the ball. I've burned out and crashed. They aren't getting ME.
As Priscilla Shirer says in the opening chapter of "The Resolution for Women", I'm not scraping the plate.
What does that mean?
She talks about having an amazing dessert in front of her. How she mindlessly ate all of it without taking the time to enjoy each and every bite. When she looked down at her plate, no full bites were left. Just a bit of crumbs, chocolate syrup, and whip cream. With a new resolve, she scraped off every last morsel from the plate and savored it. Every piece she could salvage of the delicious experience. That bite was just as good as the first. She didn't want to miss anything on that plate.
I am missing so many things on my plate. I'm leaving behind so much of the good stuff.
I keep looking forward to what is next instead of THIS moment. I keep looking back, instead of THIS moment. I've been enjoying our lives together, but I've not stopped and "soaked it in, relishing it, cherishing it, celebrating, it, appreciating it for what it is".
I completely found myself in these following words she wrote, just as if she was pulling them from my own heart. I knew I felt this way, but until I saw it written in black and white I didn't fully grasp the way I'm wrongly approaching life. "This" is the source of a large portion of the "discontent" I've felt lately and finally having words to express it has definitely opened the door to some changes already taking place and to many more ahead.
"Only for the coming year will my husband be exactly like THIS. Only for these fleeting moments will my children talk, look, and act exactly like THIS. And if I chose to hurry through them in an attempt to avoid the parts I didn't like, I'd simultaneously miss all the things I DID like about this season.
I recognized that by rushing through life, I'd been subtly devaluing those around me and the experiences I was involved in, not appreciating the importance and significance they bring to my life at this very moment, not grasping my responsibility for holding dear and treating well these gifts God has entrusted to me. Instead of embracing the privilege of being a blessing to my husband, my children, my friends, and others, I'd been quietly communicating that I wanted them to change and speed up, to get busy being somebody else, someone who's more in line with what I want and need, to hurry along to a place where they could make me happier than they currently do.
That's been me. Always looking toward the next moment, the next month, the next event, rarely allowing myself the privilege of fully participating and embracing the happenings that were right before me for that day."
That LAST sentence got me. THAT is where my chaos has been lately. Realizing that in the desire to be so much and function on so many levels, I've not stopped to just embrace THIS moment.
And just as Priscilla says, "Before you know it, you've missed out on the JOYS IN THE JOURNEY, the growth that comes from battling through the difficulties, the sweet and savory experience of creating the memories."
It's time to scrape the plate. Scraping EVERY last detail. Embracing every morsel. Not hurrying along to the next stage, next activity, or next "thing" on my list.
Most especially, it's about FULLY embracing that this role of motherhood is a ministry and it is valuable. If it means separating myself from people that discourage me, have caused scars, etc... than so be it. If it's about saying "no" to other outside opportunities for awhile so I can focus on the inside of my own walls, than that is what it takes. If it means giving up things I "think" I love to focus on the things I KNOW I love, it's no question of what to choose.
Right now, I'm specifically surrounding myself with encouraging, uplifting people that don't tear down or try to make me feel less than because I'm choosing to minister in my home. I'm making sure that when opportunities come up, that I take the time to encourage another mom in similar seasons of life. I'm specifically making sure that as I'm starting "new" that I'm starting with my heart in the right place, connected to the one that blessed me with this role and ministry. I'm taking more time to renew my own heart, because if I don't have it to give, I just don't have it to give!!!!
It's been an eye opening time. It's been terrifying, unsettling, and heart wrenching at times. Yet, I know the results are going to be tremendous as I bring my heart back towards home. As I bring my heart back to the places I know it has been craving and missing. I'll be trying new things....some will fail and some will succeed. Regardless, it will be about scraping the plate for every morsel! Focusing my heart in my own home and EMBRACING that gift----no longer feeling as if it isn't enough.
Scraping the plate!