“You laugh loud,” He said.
I laughed again and inwardly cringed. Was that a good thing or a bad thing?
Being told something open-ended like “you laugh loud”, is a huge deal when you’re seventeen. Seventeen is right smack dab in the middle of living in a constant tussle of people-pleasing and figuring out who you are in the middle of all that clamors…
And at seventeen, everything clamors.
You want to be cool, but depending on your social setting what’s en vogue can vary.
And at seventeen, I couldn’t wait for all that to end, when everyone, including myself, would be grown up and things would settle down –
and nobody tells you that it never really ends – that seventeen is really just a mirage of what’s to come; that even though it does get easier,
learning how to be comfortable in your own skin is a lifelong process that only gets more touchy with age.
Nobody really tells you that the expectations increase and all of life is finding your way through.
Or, maybe it just doesn’t quite sink in.
So there I was, in my mid-twenties, asking the same old, “who am I?” question and feeling like such a kid.
When I got married, I was 21 years old and I thought I had a pretty good handle on life. The hormonal teenage rollercoaster had balanced out and I had wrestled through some harder things in my young lifespan. I knew where I was going.
Except I really had no idea.
Because three months later, the plan wasn’t to have $5 in my bank account and be told that my dreams of having babies was dust. I didn’t plan to struggle almost daily with chronic stomach pain that no one could explain.
And four years later, I didn’t plan to be caught up in a tangled web of disagreements with my family and my church, sleepless nights and constant strain. I didn’t plan to welcome a baby into my home at the heart-wrenching expense of another mama’s loss. I didn’t think bonding with a baby who didn’t grow inside my womb would be so hard and I didn’t realize all the fears that I would face by saying “yes” to his little life.
I didn’t plan for invasive and expensive fertility doctoring that didn’t work and I didn’t plan to leave my church and I didn’t plan to love a baby girl that was born addicted to drugs that I would fight so hard for, only to say good-bye.
I didn’t plan to struggle with anxiety and depression, I certainly didn’t plan to doubt God, and –
I definitely didn’t plan to enter my 30’s and still be learning how to be comfortable in my own skin.
Life has unfolded completely different than what I ever expected at 21 years old, and shattered every bit of the naive self-confidence I embodied.
And that’s been good.
The world and even Christianity is telling you to love yourself more, and it’s not going to earn me points for popularity, but I’m just going to say it out loud –
this is standing on dangerous ground.
Paul goes on to say that the imposters of truth will flourish in their deceit, but the holy Word of God will empower you with wisdom as you trust in Jesus.
You don’t need to love yourself more, if you only love Him more than yourself.
Christ came to set you free from yourself – from the sin that you were born into, that so easily entangles you. You cannot earn your salvation or good standing with God.
You are not the answer.
He is the solution.
I was standing at the kitchen sink, wrestling through in my heart, because I also believe that self-care is important. We don’t have to run ourselves ragged or prove ourselves to God. We have been set free.
Our freedom includes deliverance from performance.
Jesus Himself retreated to the wilderness and put space between Himself and the crowds.
How do you reconcile it – the importance of self-care and the inarguable call to deny yourself?
My number one request for our kitchen remodel is a dishwasher. I spend so much time at the sink washing dishes and it came to me as I pondered and prayed, up to my elbows in soapy dishwater.
When God said He made us wonderful, He’s not just talking about our physique.
The marvelous workmanship of God is not just in what we look like, but in who we are.
We become the best version of ourselves, when we follow Him into the unique purposes He has for our life.
So if self-care is a coming away to not be filled up more with self, but to be filled up more with Him –
If self-care is about making space for our soul to revive –
and boundaries are set to guard our heart from self-reliance –
and to protect against self-confidence and performance-based religion –
than self-care is really more about soul-care and making space for our Savior to have His way in us.
YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your gifts – the way you paint, the way you speak, the way you write, the way you create beauty, the way you cook, the way you love people, the way you give, the way you laugh –
it’s on purpose.
And it’s meant to be shared –
because God made you to testify and declare His glory.
Jesus paid it all.
To Him we owe everything.
It doesn’t matter what “they” think about your choice of work, your favorite color, what you eat or drink, and all the etc. —
IF ALL THAT YOU DO IS DONE TO THE GLORY OF GOD.
You will be misunderstood and wrongly judged and envied and ridiculed and people will mock you and talk about you and make you feel small.
So turn your eyes upon Jesus. Lean in to your Savior.
You are freed from self and released from shame.
You can be confident in the workmanship of an Almighty God.
He made you to be you.