Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Enough

I just want to be enough.  This has been my struggle for 5-6 years.  My struggle is finding approval from others.  When I was younger, I put pressure on myself to be as perfect as possible.  I was the little girl who never wanted to upset my parents or teachers.  I remember in elementary school, I received two "tallies" over the course of my time in Kindergarten-5th grade.  Both times were for talking, and both times were telling someone to be quiet so everyone else wouldn't get in trouble.  I remember the teachers would send home a note to parents for tallies earned.  I cried when I got in trouble...I felt I had let down my teachers and my classmates.  And, I knew I had disappointed my teacher.  I never worried about comparing myself to my siblings or other classmates.  I was more concerned with behaving how I knew I should.  It was all about if I was being the best I could be.  I was comparing myself with myself.

When I was in middle school, I studied and worked hard to perform well academically.  I tested well, but I had to work hard to do well.  I participated in chorus and practiced hard so I could be in all-county and all-state chorus.  Again, I didn't want to compare myself with others, I wanted to do my best.  I was seeking approval, but I am not sure who I was seeking it from.  I was blessed with parents who held high standards for their children and who encouraged us to do well.  When I was in middle school, my Daddy worked 2-3 jobs.  My Mama worked all day then went to college at night.  I knew they were striving to take care of 4 children and were under a lot of pressure themselves.  I wanted to make them proud.  I remember there were times I would be performing or had received awards, but they were not able to attend because of how hard they were working.  I remember thinking over and over that I wanted to make them proud.  I wanted to take away some of their work and pressure.  I wanted them to know that their efforts were paying off because I was being a successful student.

In high school, I felt the importance of preparing for college from day one.  Every class choice, every test score, every final grade was for that all-emcompassing goal of getting into a college.  Not just getting in, but hopefully getting it paid for.  My family grew up dancing around the poverty line.  So, the task of sending 4 children to college was overwhelming for my parents, I'm sure.  But, there was no question that we would all go.  That was the expectation, and I was ready to meet it.  I worked hard in my classes, I gave my all to chorus and drama.  Again, I was desperately seeking approval and attention.  I wanted people to think I was enough...I was good enough, smart enough, nice enough.  I needed that affirmation that I was worth investing in and worth having around.  When I made some stupid choices in high school, the first thoughts in my head were "I have let my parents down.  I'm the worst role model for my siblings."  I remember spilling my guts to my parents and my siblings.  I remember the moment I told them about my bad choices.  I knew I had broken trust, and I had disappointed everyone.  But, I wanted them to hear the truth from me and not from others.  I wanted to be honest and own my mistakes.  It hurt.  It was no fun at all.  Even then, I was so concerned that I would never by worthy in my family's eyes again.

Thankfully, I did earn a full-tuition scholarship to Mars Hill College.  I accomplished 2 years worth of classes in 3 semesters before I dropped out, got married, and moved all over the place with the Navy.  Being married to a person who was often in class, in training, or out to sea proved challenging.  When he was gone, I hoped he would want to come back and that I was missed.  When he was home, I was trying to prove I was worth staying with.  As our marriage continued and the changes in our life become more and more challenging, the thought that kept overtaking my mind was "I am worthless". When the separation started and through the divorce process, I became to dread the night.  Every night, I would go to bed, lay down, close my eyes but rarely sleep.  I would continually battle against the attacks on my heart and mind.  I would hear in my head that I had no value, no worth, was replaceable, had been replaced...I felt discarded and useless.

Now, 2 years later, I still fight those battles.  My friend and mentor recently told me that Satan is called the prince of darkness for a reason.  The dark is when I am vulnerable.  It is when I am fearful. It is when every negative thought and image parade through my mind's eye.  Satan is clever.  He knows my weakness.  My search for approval and worth had been ongoing my entire life.  My fear of disappointing others has been never-ending.  I am in counseling to help me deal with these thoughts.  Sadly, as much of this that is internal can easily manifest itself in my relationships to the people I am closest with.  There are detrimental defenses I use to block out others so I don't disappoint them.  I shut myself down so I don't have to deal with the potential of feeling of no value.  I can completely pull away in an instant.  I can put up so many walls in no time at all.  And, it all stems from fear.

I am afraid that I am not enough...no matter what I do or how I try.  I worry I am not a good enough mother.  When my children cry and beg to stay with me, but I can't give them what they want, I break.  When I know their hurt and pain yet can do nothing about it, I feel I am not doing all I can as a Mom.  When I am overwhelmed with the tasks in my life, I worry that I will let down the people I work with.  I think there is someone who could do my job so much better.  When my family and friends need me, but I can hardly take care of myself, I am so worried that they will see I'm not all they think I am.  My relationships with the ones I care about the deepest suffer the most because my fear is so prominent.

BUT, here's what I am constantly learning, re-learning and fighting against.  Fear is not of God...it's not from God.  Satan is the author of lies.  He is out to cause pain, to plant fear, and to consume lives.  One of the practices I do for my counseling sessions is to identify truths and lies.  I write out a list of the lies I hear in my head and heart when it is dark and I am alone.  The, I write out the truths...this is not an easy assignment.  It actually exhausts me mentally and emotionally.

I have to remember who I am.  I have been redeemed.  I am a daughter of God, a sister of Jesus, and I have been marked with a purpose.  I do matter.  I do have value.  I am relevant.  I have been bought with a price.  When God looks at me, He sees me through the grace, through the redemption of His Son.  He sees me as a priceless princess.  Not only that, but I am irreplaceable to my family...I am a great Mom...because God made me one.  My children are a gift that He has given me.  He has trusted me to rear them the best I can.  And, we are trying to walk on His path.  My parents are constantly exhibiting unconditional love to me.  They are forever encouraging me.  My true friends lift me up, are patient with me, and never tear me down.  My children lavish me with hugs, kisses, and amazing love.  I am enough!

It is so much easier to believe lies and to fall victim to pain and hurt.  It is easier to withdraw and shut down.  It is so hard to have trust restored and hope renewed.  Some days, it is hard to truly believe that I have value.  I have been given the greatest blessing and gift in the world.  I have Christ alive in me, and while I have no doubt of my salvation or of His work in and through me, on my very human days, I struggle to remember who I am and to whom I belong.

Your struggles may look different.  The lies in your head and heart may be different than mine.  Do you know Jesus?  Is He alive in you?  If He is, then you have been redeemed...you have eternal significance.  You are a child of God and a sibling of Christ.  You have a purpose.  You were intentionally made.  You are not an accident.  You are loved.  If you don't have that assurance or you need to be reminded, I invite you to dig into God's Word.  As I teach my sweet kids, we talk to God through prayer, but He has all the answers for us in His Word.  I'll leave you with this:

"I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened...[and I pray that you] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God".  Ephesians 1:17-18, 3:18-20

Be encouraged.  Do not give into fear and lies.  YOU ARE LOVED!!!  YOU MATTER!!!  YOU ARE PRICELESS!!!  You are enough!

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