Sunday, August 3, 2014

Be Yourself

An open letter to my amazing niece about becoming a woman:

Even though she was my sister, when I was really little, your mom was like a mother to me.  I have vivid memories of crying myself to sleep on the couch many nights after she left for college because she left such a void.  When I was a little older and she was married and had children, I would come and stay with her for a while sometimes.  During those long visits she became more than my sister, she became my friend.  I enjoyed each visit more than the last and never wanted to leave.  When I became an adult, she became my best friend and mentor.

When I was little, I loved her because she was my sister.  But as I grew older, I began to respect and admire her as a woman as well.  She was everything I thought a woman should be and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.  For me, she was the standard, and I gauged everything I did by her example.  As a new wife, and then later as a new mother, I often felt like I didn’t measure up.  I struggled with feelings of being overwhelmed and under qualified.  I would think to myself, ‘If I could only be more like her, I would know what to do and everything would be better.’

Now after almost 20 years of marriage and over 10 years of parenthood, I have realized a few things.  First of which, is that I can never be just like her, because God made me differently.  I'm louder, crazier, more opinionated than she is.  My perspectives, experiences and capabilities are different too.  I still think of her as the embodiment of the Proverbs 31 woman, and the fulfillment of the fruits of the Spirit.  For sure, she is an example to learn from.  But I have realized that I don’t have to be just like her to be those things as well.

Often, we struggle as women because we think we don’t measure up to someone else’s standard.  We think there is something wrong with us because we are different.  But God made each of us differently.  And He did it on purpose.  All of us are all different parts, and we need each of those different parts to function as a whole.  There are things we have to learn from each of these differences, and the differences in each of us are what make life interesting.  And while there are some amazing women that we have to look up to and learn from, (your mom is one of those for sure) we don’t need to feel like we don’t measure up because we are not just like them.

As you are on your way to becoming an adult, you are discovering who you are; who you want to be.  While you are on that path to self-discovery, I want you to keep in mind that God didn’t create you to be like someone else.  He created you to be different.  So find those women you look up to, women who embody the traits that you desire, and learn from them.  But don’t try to be like anyone else; because God created you to be you.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Things I know about life

When I was asked to write about what it meant to be a woman, my first thought was, What do I know about life?

Nothing.  That was my second thought.

But then I realized, That is what I know...

I know that the more you know, the more you know you don't know.
~And those who think they know, are usually the ones who don't. 

I know that knowledge is power, but wisdom is knowing how to use knowledge.
~A smart person knows what to say, a wise person knows whether or not to say it.

I know that your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behavior does.
~And no one will care what your beliefs are if they don't believe you care.  And they will not believe that you care unless you show them that you do. 

I know that it is good to be right, but better to be kind.
~No one will care that you are right, if you are not kind.  I often say to my children, Was that necessary to correct?  If it wasn't, then don't. 

I know that comparison is the thief of joy.
~You can't be happy with what you have, if you are too busy being unhappy with what you don't have.

I know that gratitude turns what we have into enough. 
'It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.' ~David Steindl-Rast
~Gratitude is key.  It gives us perspective.

I know that perspective makes all the difference.
~How small are we compared to the vastness of the world.  It is only when we are able to see past ourselves, that we are truly able to see. 

I know that you should never judge someone, because it doesn't define them, it defines you.
~You might be right.  They might be right too.  Sometimes different is not right or wrong, it is just different.

I know that you should never worry about the opinions of those who have no importance in your life.
~You are the only one that is responsible for the choices you make.  Make the one you think is right and don't worry if someone who is not important to you thinks differently about it.

I know that you can never be perfect, but you are never closer to perfection than when you are trying.
'Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.' ~Maya Angelou
~And forgive yourself for not doing better before you knew better.

I know that you never fail until you quit trying.
~Never give up.  Stay the course.  There may be times that you will need to reevaluate, maybe reroute, but never stop.  Never give up.