what people think (series on maturity part 2)

I remember one day when my husband “fired” me from wondering what other people were thinking. I was like “but I need to think about these things so that I don’t fail, so I can be in control, so I won’t make them upset, and so that I won’t be rejected.” Okay so I didn’t have that much clarity when he “fired” me but NOW I know some reasons why I wanted to think about what they thought.
The fear of man and fear of rejection ruled so much of my life growing up. I wasn’t necessarily the most popular or confident girl on the block. I struggled so much with body image and fitting in. It was easier to just step back and look in on other people’s lives hoping to be included at some point.
I am not sure when I started worrying about what other people were thinking. Goes something like this. My thoughts, “if i do this, they will think this.” “Hey babe, if I do this then this person is going to think this…” “Okay, how do you know?” “I don’t know I just think that is what they will think.” Are you laughing yet or can you relate?? Or is that why you are laughing. Well, he thought this whole train of thought was pretty exhausting. And he was very patient and told me that I was “Fired” from thinking about what people are thinking. Fwew! I feel so much better now. Seriously, I set my mind to not thinking about it. Like a blank slate. It doesn’t mean I don’t care but I don’t need that anxiety in my life!
I took his advice and man growing up is hard to do. But someone has to do it!  Honestly it is easy to slip back into that way of life. But I have to say no to myself and “let it go!” (sing Frozen song here). I get to live my life asking God what he thinks. In a society where other people’s thoughts are readily available in print (aka the inter webs) its hard to avoid them. But I really want my motive to be from a place of freedom and seeking peace. I feel like these past three years my biggest battle has been anxiety (a fancy word for fear). The “what if’s” have crept in and plagued my sub-conscious.  I have a serious desire to defend or “Explain” myself or apologize for too much. So I stop. Like sit on my hands stop. I tell myself NO. Kind of like a fight with a donut when you are trying to lose weight. No Michelle, you have to walk away. You don’t have to explain yourself.
I love what my counselor’s friend once told her. She asked God one day about something she was worrying about. “God, are you worried about this?” Crickets. Nope He wasn’t moved or stressed out at all. Cool as a cucumber. Great. Now what? Sometimes I like anxiety. I like to worry about something or act like it is the end of the world. Now that I don’t get to, now what do I do? I would like to official throw a fit that I no longer get to fill in all the blanks for every relationship or thing that I am worrying about! I get to be at peace over here not knowing OR I get to ask more questions in order to find the real information. This is probably the root of so much of it. Growing up looks like asking questions. It looks like being fearless and not worrying about what someone else will say or do. 
It looks like God being our place of peace and the Holy Spirit leading our actions.
One of the biggest things that has changed in the past four years in my life is getting married and becoming a mom. I remember within days of getting engaged the advice began. I do not function well in a SEA of opinions. Its like my least favorite thing. I am growing in it but I really have struggled with it. Then within a month of being married we found out we were pregnant (honeymoon baby on purpose!!!;) and then began a new level of advice and opinions I was NOT prepared for. So many opinions.  And so many options. A girl like me can just wanna run and hide in the midst of this! And because the decisions were so new to me and so foreign (new mom!) I became more insecure than I had in years. Thus began the exposing of the quiet anxiety I had dealt with for years. The sleep deprivation, (especially having two babies in 20 months) oh the sleep deprivation made it impossible to hide any longer.
I was vulnerable and I honestly didn’t know it for about a year. Then it hit me. Wait…. I am 35 (at the time) years old. I have done many things and know a lot. Yes this is new to me. But I am not new to me. God, Help!!! So I reached out and started going to counseling.  And finally I felt like I could breath again. I am not a new human just starting out in the world. And the other part hit me like a ton of bricks (did I already say that phrase, sorry). I don’t have to know. I don’t have to do it perfect. This thing called life can be fixed even if I mess it up. These boys God gave me are His as well and my husbands and I am not alone in this. All of these opinions and advice and decisions don’t have to be answered right now or ever.
Wow the whole perfectionism and control and all that is another blog for another day. Okay take a deep breath (me not you, unless you need to).
Anyways. People are always thinking. But you do not have to fear or think about at all. You too can be free! Or get fired or whatever helps you to know you do not have to do it anymore. The end.

are you behaving? (a series on maturity)

What would happen if someone “bugged” your house? Like microphones and all that. They were listening but you didn’t know it. What would they hear you say? Would you be embarrassed? Would you be proud of yourself? Are you behaving?

I have thought of this several times this past year and knew that I personally would be embarrassed of what would be recorded and heard. In this past year I have felt very exhausted for multiple reasons and my mouth (often spoken of as my greatest blessing and my greatest curse) runs rampant when I am “tired!!” I made a conscious goal in my heart that I wanted to treat those in my house better than those that I see outside my house. I wanted to behave better at home than in public. If being home is permission to behave badly then I have a very skewed view of love, commitment, and family.  But, for reals, there is this unspoken clause in my subconscious that says its okay to “let loose” at home with those who love me most. That is where I am safe, where I am most forgiven, and so when my guard is down I love big!! And then I also misbehave. big.  I take my stress out on my husband and often my kiddos. Its not like I do it completely on purpose but it has caused me to re-evaluate why I do what I do.

I am not talking about being perfect. I promise I do not expect that from myself anymore. Because honestly that is IMPOSSIBLE. I have spent the better part of the past year trying to understand that fact. And it has helped so much. But I wanted to take it to another level. I wanted to see if I was the only one. Something has told us that we get to “be ourselves,” “let go,” and “get it off our shoulders” in these intimate relationships inside our home. We get to respond more harshly or vulnerably because they are our “family.” But I would venture to say that is a sign of immaturity and selfishness. I get to say “no” to myself and find more constructive ways to process my thoughts and feelings. But in the moment it is so hard.

Sing this to yourself. “Growing up is hard to do!” Because it is. Choosing to love those that live in your home and consider them above yourself is hard but you will reap the rewards. If you have given all that kind of love to everyone else outside your home and you have nothing left to give your family that is another issue altogether. We need to have boundaries with our energy. Your family doesn’t deserve to punished for your exhaustion and lack of saying no. I know I am preaching to the choir here of course. But I am taking a minute this year to do some soul searching and cancel my pity party. How can I love my three men more this year. I know I won’t always ACE that test but I know for a fact I can do MUCH better. I can behave better than I have and say no to the mentality that home is where I get to act however the wind blows that day.

Philippians  2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

I feel like we excel at doing this when people are watching or listening.  But in reality someone is always watching and listening. He is the teacher, leader, and helper in these times where we are tempted to “let loose!” He inviting us to ask for help and then we can excel in doing this in our homes, minivans, and when things are working out the way we thought. We get to behave and then we have peace in these relationships where God does His best work!