Blog Posts.

Upside Down Truth.

As far as I can look back – and I’m talking as far back as the days of braces and acne (ugh) – I have struggled with the illusion that in order to be happy I have to have it “all together”. Perfectionism has been a sly enemy of mine from high school to college and now into my early twenties. What does this look like? It manifests itself in me thinking that I cannot fail – it simply isn’t an option. If I do fail, it’s embarrassing and ugly, and it almost, almost, knocks me so far off my feet that I don’t want to get up, in fear of the shame. Perfectionism causes me to hate failure because it brings with it a realization that was there from the very beginning – a realization that slaps me in the face and hurts worse than I would ever dare admit out loud. This realization is this: I am not even close to having it all together. Quite the contrary! 

For years I refused to believe this, but I am better friends with Perfectionism’s more mundane, less than peppy sister, “Imperfection”. I am very good at not having it all together. When I was younger, I tried to hide from this reality behind my nice clothes and big hair, but it really didn’t work. Because the more I tried to make up for the Imperfection, the uglier I became. This “ugly” wasn’t something you could see from the outside, but I knew it was there all the same. I plastered a smile on my face, made sure my expensive makeup wasn’t smudging and lived a lie – the lie that I wasn’t putting everything I had into what other people thought of me. Reality check – yes, I was. I was consumed with the opinions of other people which only fueled my desire to be perfect even more. I didn’t realize this at the time, but my 17-year-old identity started to fade from who the Lord said I was, and into this idea that I had to fit in and make everyone like me. I had to become what I thought everyone else’s standard of “cool” was, even if it came at the steep price of losing myself. Pretty soon, I found myself a pretty selfish and not very nice person. I sure looked great from the outside, but I was so ugly on the inside. I was catty, jealous and mean, and so unhappy.  I look back now and see Regina George from Mean Girls. It was that bad. I had traveled so far from what really mattered, that I couldn’t see the truth of who I was anymore. I was lost in the shallow sea of what other people thought of me. The more I stayed in that place the further I traveled from what was true, and the longer my list grew of people I owed an apology to. I was not only damaging myself, but I was hurting other people and that is never justifiable. 

The process of moving from that mean girl to being who the Lord says I am was tough. Actually, that is an understatement – it was flat out painful. The process sucked because it meant giving up things and people that I wanted to hold onto forever. Picture this – The Lord is sitting there asking you to choose between yourself or Him. He’s sitting there, with his arms outstretched to you, wanting desperately to give you everything He has waiting for you. You only have to step forward and receive it, but that comes with sacrifice and surrender. It comes with walking away from people and things that keep you from Him. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there really isn’t any other option – not if we want to walk out the life He has for us. The process never really got easier; I think I just started to realize that who I am without Jesus is someone I never want to step back into. So I used this as my motivation to put one foot in front of the other, scared out of my mind of the unknown. I decided to let Him strip me of everything that kept me “comfortable” and I chose to move. Was it a perfect process? Heck to the NO! It was messy, sad, lonely and terrifying. But the more I placed my dreams, my hurts, my fears, my questions, my heart, and my soul, into the hands of my Creator, the more confident I became in my decision to walk away from that insecure little girl. 

I look back now and I am so sad for her; I am sad that she couldn’t see her worth past high school and I am deeply sad for the decisions she made because she thought that in order to be loved, she had to be perfect. That in order to be loved, she had to fit the mold of what other people deemed “worthy”. Gosh, how badly I wish I could go back, look her in the eye and shake her! “Stop living for the approval of the people around you! You are worth so much more than the lie you’re believing! You are worthy of more.” When you’re in high school though, it’s hard to believe that there is life beyond those four years. Well, trust me, there is! And the destruction of living a life based on the approval of other people will haunt you long after those four years are gone. 

The Lord had a lot of damage control to deal with once I looked up from my mess – like a toddler in trouble – and realized how tremendously incapable I was of navigating this life without Him. This is where my story began – this is where my passion for women knowing their worth was born. It was born out of the ashes of my own mess. Without Jesus, those ashes would still just be ashes – in fact, I know for certain that there would’ve been nothing left of who I really am. Without Jesus, I am a mess. A seriously chaotic, mean, selfish, fearful mess. I refuse to go through this life without Him because I have proven to myself time and time again that I simply cannot do it. Not only can I not do it, but I also have no desire to! The pain that came from letting go of my old self was more than worth the joy that I now have in Him. I know what true peace looks like because I have experienced His upside-down grace. I call it his “upside-down grace” because it doesn’t make sense. If I had been Him, I would’ve left me alone on the floor to deal with the mess myself. But that’s what makes Him Jesus – He can’t help Himself. The very core of who He is is fueled by His fierce and upside-down love for us. It doesn’t matter how ugly our mess is! What matters is that His grace covers it. Not only does His grace cover it, but His grace brings healing and restoration to it. It might be a slow process. You will take two steps forward and then another step backward. But that is the beauty of the chaotic, disorganized, insanely crazy, terrifyingly intimidating process of stepping into your royal identity as the son or daughter of the King. I am so thankful for my continual imperfect process because it brings to me the truth that I wish I would’ve known at 17. The upside-down truth that He is enough for me. The upside-down truth that He is the only one that has the right to tell me who to be.