Thursday, September 28, 2017

Good, No Longer Good Enough

You are good. Let go of being good enough. Rest in being good.

These words and an image of who I have always been are battling to find their rightful place on my heart and in my mind.

Last week I said the words out loud that “Satan is attacking my femininity.” The women sitting around me looked up and one said “Really?” Mostly they accepted/dismissed it and didn’t say anything past that quick question and one leaned forward and started helping.

I was at MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) and we were sewing. Satan used sewing to try to dig at me. Reads funny, but it’s what happened. Spoiler alert: I’m in a season of growth and I recognized his tricks quickly. Thank you God!

As soon as our guest speaker started teaching I fired off a couple of texts to Michael expressing my honest lack of interest in the topic of non-sewing solutions and how to sew a button, but that darn right I’m still girly.

When I sent the text, I didn’t realize they were literally going to pass out baggies of two different types of buttons for us to practice sewing on. I have sewed once in my life; it was in eight grade and it was a pillow. I gave it to my grandma; she still has it, and I bring it up to anyone new that I made that and that she still has it!

The act of sewing whether to repair or create is something that, for the most part, is uniquely feminine. I really want to stress the for the most part wording because in our home Michael is the one doing the repair sewing needed, so no gender stereotyping here, I promise. Ultimately, it is a feminine trait or pastime that I do not possess. It is one of many uniquely feminine traits that I do not possess or have been told I don’t have.

Simply put, I am a tomboy. I long to be comfortable wearing makeup, styling my hair and wearing dresses. I am most myself in a t-shirt and sports shorts.

I have been criticized many times over the course of my life for being a tomboy, so early on the message of something isn’t right with me or not being good enough latched on.

So here I am sitting amongst these women with some: denim fabric, two buttons, thread, a needle, a toothpick, scissors and printed out instructions. ‘I sewed that pillow, I’ve got this, seems common sense to me’…all the thoughts coursing through my head. I start out following the instructions and quickly start thinking ‘What the crap, this makes no sense!’ I get brave and say the words that I’m under attack; quickly Sue, our mentor, leans over and starts helping. (Insert she did a lot of the work but gave me the credit.) But really, she was very gentle and actually taught me as she was basically doing a lot of the initial work like threading the needling and getting the knots in place. I mentally calmed down some, but knew I was under attack. ‘I’m a woman so I should know how to do this; how can you take care of your family if you can’t sew,' thoughts like this are coursing through my head. With the gentle encouragement of one of the most feminine women I’ve come to know I sewed both of those buttons. Not well, and probably not to be repeated, but I did it!

I knew more understanding was to come soon on why it was sewing, why I have such an attachment to the femininity of it and why I am so uncomfortable being myself. It’s starting to work its way to the light and here I am sorting through it all.

The Flourishing Rebel is about working hard to stay true to who you are in Christ against all the world throws at you. I thought I was doing well…Little Miss Rebel, Little Miss Secure in her Identity. But the reality is I am struggling to accept who I am at my core as a Christian and a woman. I haven’t been able to write in so long; it’s hard to write when you’re hiding from His truth of who are you and are stuck in a cycle of believing the world’s lies. Finally, I’m fighting to love myself and the shame mixed in is getting kicked to the curb and clarity is rolling in.

I latched onto athletic clothes as a little girl because I could make sense of it and I’ve just never gotten away from that. Behind the scenes though, I can hide my stomach much easier with shorts and a t-shirt and I’ve always had okay legs, so you know, highlight what works and conceal what doesn’t.
My mom with all the best intentions would say things like how certain styles would never work on me, I’d always need to wear a one-piece swim suit, and to make sure to not let my stomach stick out. Kids around me would call me fat or ugly, and then there’s my sister whose favorite things to call me are cow and dyke. Drilled in from a young age was the world’s fact that Elizabeth is not good enough. I thought I was resisting accepting these labels, but I haven’t been, in fact, I’ve been fully embracing them by disrespecting myself and drowning in a lot of sadness and anger.

I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life; even at my smallest, healthiest self during college it wasn’t good enough – that damn stomach roll! Yes, I have chronic pain so that door is wide open to stress eat and not care for myself, but the reality is I have spent my first decade of adulthood loathing myself. I agreed with the lies fed to me and rested in not being good enough.

The real shift started last fall at our leadership meeting at church; we did this prayer where we were quiet and spoke out only when we felt God telling us something about each other in our little group. My friend Matt looked up and said, “Elizabeth, I don’t know what this means, but God is wanting me to tell you that He is pleased.” I panic laughed and said, “Hmm, I’m not sure either, I’m not sure what that means, that’s weird.” Inside I was losing it – “God, there is no way you’re pleased, no way, wrong person, you are wrong!” I’ve never been good enough for anyone, so how the heck am I good enough that God is pleased with me in my current state of not loving myself, not respecting myself and definitely not in consistent, real relationship with Him!?!

In the days after God spoke over me and I argued with Him, He kept pressing in and softening my heart. First, I was so ashamed for arguing with Him, for being so disrespectful to His vision of me, and then the reality started setting in of how much I am not loving myself and how far I’ve let this go. At the beginning of this year I got back into counseling and this whole year has been a journey of walking away from the last ten years of acting like I didn’t care and embracing who I am in my current state.
This is just the beginning of me writing about these early days of resting in being good and pleasing to God. I am working on being brave and no longer settling for being good enough. There are so many books and people that have influenced me over this year and I want to open up more about them as I continue to shed the past and stop believing so many lies about myself.

I want to encourage you to quiet your mind against the lies the world tells you and rest in knowing you are good and whole in Him. Keep saying it, keep trusting it and more and more it will become your reality.

Father God, thank you for speaking life into us and providing Your Truth in black, white and oftentimes red for us. Please forgive me for not trusting You and Your Truth. Please also continue to wrap your arms around me to protect me as I learn to grow stronger in Your Truth; show me more of Your Truth to stand firm on. I love You and thank You so much for Your patience. Amen.