This past weekend I attended a Lifeway Women’s event called dotMom for the third time. It was awesome. It always has been, and we always leave feeling refreshed. On the way home, our leader/van driver asked us to all share our favorite part of the weekend. Just like others, I had several defining moments. Yet what honestly helped me the most was not a particular session, speaker or even a worship song, but an overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t as bad or crazy as I thought.
Throughout the weekend, I noticed how many women shared their most vulnerable moments in which they “lost their Christianity” so to speak by yelling at their kids, saying not-so-much Sunday school words, making foolish mistakes, and taking their husbands for granted. I’ve heard such confessions before, but never from women who are Lifeway-certified, seasoned Bible study authors with seminary degrees. I know it sounds awful that I relished in someone else’s mistakes, but it was such a freeing feeling to know I was not that bad after all.
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I’ve always had a sense of humor. I just can’t help it. I laugh all the time, at my family and friends, at things I read and pictures I see, and mostly at myself and kids. That doesn’t mean I don’t love God or anyone else as much as the next person. Though here in the Bible Belt I have felt that I needed to somehow be not so much myself to be the best little Christian Southern Belle.
I’ve tried to be like other people. The ones who are always sweet and never sassy. The ones who can cook and crochet. The ones who take their kids to library readings and own embroidery machines just so their little ones can be fashionable. Lord knows I’ve tried, but I just can’t change. I may cook a decent meal, keep my kids in clean clothes for over an hour, and wear makeup all in the same day. But it’s highly unlikely.
One day I was waiting to see the chiropractor with both of my kids. I had on no makeup, was sweaty and in gym clothes from teaching a HITT class, and my phone rang. It was a graphic design client. So I’m on the phone with him while I smell my daughter. I put her in the floor and begin to change her diaper. Meanwhile, my son is playing on his iPad and asking me to help him trace a number on his math game.
So here I am, phone between my ear and shoulder, one hand tracing the number 10, and one hand holding the baby down until I can finish wiping. I’m squatted beside the chiropractic table, butt in the air, and my doctor walks in. Luckily, he’s an understanding guy and got a nurse to come help. Fortunately, it was the nurse my son has a crush on too. I wrapped up the phone call and explained what all just happened. “And this is a perfect way to sum up my life, which is why I’m usually so tense.”
Since I am the way I am, that little episode didn’t bother me one bit. What did bother me though is about a month ago when my church had deacon nominations. Several people came up to my husband that following week to tell him they had voted for him. This got me a little nervous.
My husband is a great guy and would make a wonderful deacon, but me as a deacon’s wife? That’s when I started doubting myself. What if in all my craziness I was holding back my husband for being a leader? He’s been a leader in his career for some time, but he has a secular job. A leader in the church would be something different.
Then I was suddenly transformed back to my early 20s when I worked in Christian publishing and often felt less than enough. Just to hear some of my coworkers talk, I knew that they had lived spotless lives filled with church camp and homeschooling. Meanwhile, I had a belly button ring battle scar in memory of my younger days wearing way too little and not always making mature decisions. Most of the time I felt like the ram among sheep whenever I was around most of the girls there.
I had thankfully come a long way since then, not caring what other people thought. It was like one day in my late 20s I just woke up and said, “Who cares what people think. God loves me, He made me, and I need to accept myself.” But the deacon nominations brought back those insecurities.
My mind raced with worst case scenarios. When people think of my husband, they will immediately think of me. They will say, “Oh we can’t vote him in, he’s married to that little girl who does stand-up at bars and writes articles about dogs doing it.” They will not care that I’m a Christian and that I care about helping others. That won’t be enough.
Those thoughts hurt, especially the last one: That won’t be enough. As women, I think we tell ourselves this way too much. We let ourselves believe that we are never enough. Then we drive ourselves crazy trying to change who we are just so people won’t think we’re crazy.
Thank God for the women this weekend who confessed things that freed me from feeling so bad about myself. I learned that nobody is holy except Jesus. Even people who preach and teach God’s Word for a living are filled with flaws. We are all human, and not everyone can be quiet and calm. I like being the outspoken, funny person God made me to be. Think of how much better the world would be if we all just let ourselves be ourselves, the way God intended us to be, and if we all quit trying to hide our crazy.