I am late pretty much everywhere, every day. I genuinely, genuinely with all of my heart want to be on top of things, want to be on time, but I am always under the assumption that I can cram in one more activity, one more swipe of lip gloss, one more minute of sleep. The snooze button is basically my best friend. It is my Chick-Fil-A sauce, if you will. Really, if you think about it, it’s not that I’m necessarily even late. It’s that I’m overly optimistic. My glass is too half-full.
So, it should come as a surprise to exactly zero people that I was late to the party on learning these five life truths.
1. Jerry Maguire is a liar.
When I was younger, I remember being enthralled with the romance of it all: the handsome prince, the damsel in distress, the whole “you complete me” thing. But holy soap on a rope, 34 years of being alive and six-plus years of marriage has taught me that ain’t nobody gonna complete you but Jesus. Ain’t nobody gonna save you but yourself. If you want that glass slipper, honey, get creative, work your tail-end off and buy it your dang self. My husband is my favorite person on this planet, no questions asked. I love him with every fiber of my being. I want to sit on the couch, watch Netflix and eat Chipotle beside that man every day for the rest of my life (three chicken tacos, meat and cheese only, chips and hot sauce, please). But expecting him, just one little human being, to be my EVERYTHING is crazy town. He’s not the Holy One, the Messiah, or the Creator of all good things. He’s a person. A PERSON. He was made to be my husband, not my carpenter, my lawn guy, my support group, my comedian, and my best friend. That is way, way, way too much pressure to put on a single person.
Look for someone who makes you better, and love them with all your might, but for crying out loud, give them some room for error, give them some space to make mistakes, give them a home where they know they will be offered forgiveness, even if they have to sleep on the couch before receiving it. Expect them to point you to Jesus, and expect Jesus to complete you, not the other way around.
2. Be your own cereal, girl. You do you.
Ok, so I’m at the eighth grade dance. I’m at the end of junior high, which let’s be honest, was just one long walk through awkwardville. Ugggghhhh, so awkward. So there we are, at the end of it–Hallelujah! Praise be to Jesus!–and they get ready to announce the superlatives for the year. You know, Funniest, Best Smile, Class Favorite, yada yada yada. And deep down, I’m really wanting to win one of these things. I’m really wanting to bring home the gold here. Maybe Cutest, maybe Friendliest. Best Dressed would be nice. Which, I’m going to be honest, I don’t know why I would have ever expected to win that one. I mean, I used to wear Tommy Hilfiger polo shirts from the boys’ department like they were going out of style (because they were indeed, going out of style). I even had this one particularly lovely red Abercrombie & Fitch zip-up sweater that I used to TUCK INTO MY LEE BLUE JEANS. Y’all. I used to tuck a zipper into my pants. What? What was that? People. Bless my 14-year-old heart. I’m not winning best dressed here, not a shot in Lucifer’s Palace.
So anyway, they are announcing the awards. My best friend, Kathy, wins Best Smile. I’m happy for her. They go on. They eventually get to Goofiest Female, and they called my name. Heaven help me. They called my name. So, what this said to me, and basically solidified to me at that time, was that not only did no one want to date me in junior high, but that no one was going to want to date me ever. Like ever. Because ouch. Who wants to date the weirdo, odd ball little sister? People may keep you around for a few laughs, but basically that’s all you’ve got going on for you, sister. I desperately wanted to change who I was. And from then on, wanting to change became a very regular thing for me. I wanted to be the sweet girl, the mild-mannered girl, the girl who didn’t talk too much, the girl who was just liked, the girl who wasn’t too awkward or weird, or goofy. Gahhhh, I wanted to be any box of cereal except the one that God created me to be. But age has taught me to embrace my own box, love my own flavor, and sit there proudly on the shelf, whether people buy me or not. No more missing out on who I am. No more missing out on what I have to give. No more missing out because I’m too occupied comparing myself to anyone or anything around me.
3. Insecurity is the thief of everything.
Ok, so if comparison is the thief of joy, let me just tell you, that insecurity is the thief of everything. I honestly can’t dive too deeply into these waters because there is just so much hurt and pain and traveled waters here. I would go down with the ship trying to write it all down, and you would likely drown from trying to read it all. But in a nutshell, insecurity will take everything from you. It will take your self-worth, it will take your relationships, it will take the plan God has for your life. It will take your very soul and swallow it whole. And it comes into our houses so quietly, so sneakily, so unnoticed. It comes in like carbon monoxide just waiting to suffocate all that you are, all that you have and all that you hope to accomplish. INsecurity gets you looking INside: inside your problems, inside your weaknesses, inside your failures, and inside all of your holes. And when you are busy looking inward, it becomes unbelievably difficult to see anything happening in the world outside around you. Stop looking to get your holes fixed, and just start looking to get Holy.
4. I am not homemade vanilla.
Look, I like Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla as much as the next guy. In fact, everybody loves Homemade Vanilla. Everybody and their momma. And their daddy. And their neighbor. I mean, it’s vanilla. It was specifically designed to be the crowd favorite, the mack daddy, the pleaser of all the people. It was, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t designed to be popular. I wasn’t designed to be generally liked, generally wanted, or generally anything. And neither were you. So be sweet, be salty, be sour, be tangy, be bold. Just be you. Just be free. And I think you will find, hopefully sooner than I did, that freedom is the first step to joy. Freedom is the first step to peace. Freedom is the first step to fulfillment.
5. Perfection not required.
I spent the biggest chunk of my life chasing after perfection: the perfect student, the perfect friend, the perfect wife, the perfect life, the perfect Christian. And when I stopped that rat race, when I hopped off of that wheel, when I finally just said, “No,” I started living. Like, really living. Suddenly, I could just breathe and be and become. My marriage became happier, my motherhood became lighter, my friendships became deeper. When I realized that I could be enough, without being faultless, doors and windows and bridges opened wide up. I could breathe and everyone around me could as well. I could be free and everyone around me could as well. I could live with grace and mercy and SO MUCH FULLNESS and everyone around me could as well.
I’m no longer performing for a trophy I’ll never win. I’m no longer looking for a medal I’ll never earn. I’m no longer playing for a plaque I’ll never be awarded. And most of all, I’m no longer worshipping an idol that can’t love me in return. I am finally chasing . . . well, in fact, I’m not chasing anything anymore: not people’s approval, not people’s acceptance, not people’s applause. No perfection. I’m too old. I’m too crotchety. I don’t have time for anything except for crossword puzzles, quilted blankets and reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Frankly, I am too wrapped up in God’s message of love for anything else. I am too caught up in fulfilling His purpose. I am too enthralled with His beauty to really worry about my own.
And honestly, I really like it this way.