Monday, August 31, 2015

Grace in the "&"

Right now the semicolon project is getting a lot of attention in the media, which is fantastic!

However, throughout my journey over the past year, there is another symbol that has had a profound impact on me. The ampersand. &. The word “and”. Very often in everyday conversation, we find ourselves using the word “but”. Example: “I’m tired, but I got plenty of sleep last night.” (yes, that’s the first example I could think of). By saying “but”, we completely discredit the first part of the sentence. The whole meaning sounds totally different if we say “I’m tired, AND I got plenty of sleep last night.” It shows that the 2 things can coexist. I know it sounds silly, but if you think about it in everyday life, it actually makes a lot of sense.

And” is actually a really tricky concept for me because I have a hard time with black and white thinking. I tend to think in extremes; that things either have to be good or bad, right or wrong, big or small. So the idea that there is a grey area and that things can be good AND bad at the same time has been a big learning process for me. But because of AND, you can be brave and afraid; exhausted and motivated; scared and excited. You don't have to live with "or". You are free to feel whatever you feel, sometimes even all at once!

So where does the concept of grace come in? I once heard someone say, “there is grace in the “and”’. I am now learning what that means and what that looks like in my life. Travis Stewart said, “there are many ANDs in life. You can be terrified of peanut butter AND eat it anyway. You can be in your eating disorder AND still be loved by the Father.”
That is the definition of grace, played out in a real life scenario.
The actual definition of grace is this:
Grace: undeserved, unmerited, unearned, favor.
So when there is a voice inside me that says, “do better, try harder, fix yourself,” grace says, “God loves you, no matter what.” When the black and white thinking says, “I know God loves me, but I make so many mistakes,” grace says, “You do make mistakes AND God still loves you.”
 Grace tells me that my past doesn’t matter. Grace tells me that I am loved for who I am, not what I have done. Grace shows me that I can be flawed AND loved.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Too Much & Not Enough

As I sit on my bed and feel my thighs touching together and a soft roll of my stomach folding over my pajama shorts, I can’t help but moan and think “why is there so much of me?” It’s funny because not 10 minutes earlier, I was scrolling through Facebook thinking to myself, “Oh wow, look at her, look at that family, look at their life. I’ll never be good enough, thin enough, strong enough, smart enough. I'll never be _______ enough.” You can probably fill in that blank with plenty of other words too.

So how can someone go from feeling like they are too much to feeling like they are not enough in a literal span of 10 minutes? I don’t know. But I do it all the time, and I know I’m not alone in that.

It’s like the world’s worst rendition of Goldilocks & the Three Bears; you know, too big, too small, juuuuuuust right. It’s like the world’s most frightening tight rope balancing act. You have to be enough, but not too much.

So what does it mean to be enough? The dictionary defines “enough” as: [adequate; sufficient for the purpose; to be ample, or fully]. Makes sense, right? So what comes to my mind when I think of my own personal definition of enough? “Worthy”. If I am good enough, smart enough, brave enough, pretty enough, funny enough, small enough…then I will be worthy. Of love and belonging and friendship and hope. However the flaw in this thought is that I have to earn these things. And if we are being honest, no person on this earth can earn these things. Which is where the gift of God’s grace comes in…but that’s a topic for a different day!

So on one hand, here I am craving and desiring that people will see me as “enough” (which, remember, is synonymous with “fully”). And yet on the other hand, one of my biggest fears is to be seen as “too much”. Too loud, too big, too needy, taking up too much time or space or energy. I’ve always thought that being called “needy” would be one of the biggest insults in life. I’ve thought of needy as being selfish or ungrateful. However, I’m learning that there is a difference between having needs and being needy. And the truth is, we are all people in need.
Daniell Koepke said,
“Your needs don’t make you too much. They don’t make you selfish or weak or greedy. They make you human. We all have needs. And those hungers aren’t something we should feel ashamed of. They’re normal, we didn’t get enough of them as children hungers. Affections we’ve been deprived of by the people who are supposed to care for us. Connections we need to feel whole and spaces we needed to feel safe. Cravings we’ve been taught we didn’t deserve. Appetites we’ve learned to suppress and fill with guilt. Again and again we’ve neglected our needs because we’ve been taught that they were too much—that we were too much…Making your needs known isn’t about being demanding or selfish. It’s about using your voice and speaking your truth. It’s about giving yourself permission to take up space…”
So that’s what I’m learning right now. I’m learning how to accept grace into my life and to live in light of that grace, knowing that that is the only way I will ever truly be enough. And I’m learning to give myself permission to take up space; permission to be “fully”.

But man, am I a slow learner! ;)