as i started to write this post i realized that it had a lot of starting points in my mind. a few rose to the top but one just wouldn't emerge as the winner... so i wrote a few. choose the start that speaks to you. and then jump to the ending.
a few years ago, i started to notice this strange trend in my town. mommas all around me were starting to verbalize minor irritations with not being invited to this or that by this person or that person (or sometimes even by me). it made me pause.
for the better part of my life i just sort of went through it- being invited or not being invited- celebrating when i was, (oh, man! doesn't it feel amazing to be included.) and letting it roll off my back when i wasn't. i have felt the tinge of hurt for certain, but i can usually find rest in the boundaries of a party. sometimes you just have to draw the line. you can't invite everybody to everything. it is a fact and it doesn't have to mean that you are less than. celebrate when your included. and i also try very hard to also celebrate for those that were, even when i am not. we all need to feel that. we all need community and togetherness and the feelings of "special", "wanted", and "chosen".
but for some, this just doesn't stick and when we aren't included it gets deep down in and is like a tornado in your heart throwing around negative messages all over the place. and this little "not invited" moment begins to become something really big because you open up the filing cabinet and pull out ALL OF THE #notinvited and it turns into a huge giant pile of hurt.
i am a mom of a middle school girl. it isn't easy to navigate these waters. in the fall, my beauty came to me and told me she wanted a pixie cut for back-to-school. i was caught off guard (yes, by a hairstyle).
you see, i had a momma with one working arm growing up and knowing her limitations, my momma forced me to have short hair (because she couldn't brush long locks and she couldn't braid or ponytail or... it was a function decision). while i understand my momma's choice, i also remember being called "he", "your son" and "boy" way more often than i would like to recount. and it didn't feel good. in fact, it made me feel ugly. (side note- short hair ISN'T ugly... but people can be insensitive and when you long for locks down your back and get called a boy it can make you feel ugly.)
when e came to me and asked for the pixie cut, the messages of ugly that i received during my short hair days came flooding to my mind. i didn't really want that for her. i tried to do a pros and cons list, tell my story and then ultimately let her choose (because she is 12, after all). and she chose pixie cut. and it was cute. for a while.
now, she is growing it out. we are in the not so easy to style stage. she longs for the day that she will be able to rock a bob but for now we have a way to go. in the process, my girl feels ugly. oh for a mother's heart to hear her baby girl say this! it breaks me every time. my beauty can't see her own beautiful. and she has so much beautiful. all she can see is her short in-between pixie and bob hair that is currently defining her in her mind.
i am rocking out my 40's. true story. for me, my 40's are the middle place of this motherhood. my babies are no longer babies, but i still have three lively kiddies in my home. i'm smack dab in the middle of motherhood (not that there is an end date, but eventually they leave and the dynamic shifts a bit).
and as is such, i am in the middle of me and marriage and adult. i have rocked out my first job, falling in love, getting married, buying a home, having babies, etc. for scott and i, we have emerged from the financial struggle and sort of settled into where we are going to lie in this world. and for the most part, so have the peeps in my life that surround me (with a million exceptions and fast changes along the way- nothing is ever permanent).
and as i watch this happen, i am noticing some subtle comments here or little twinges there in my social circle. we as women, tend to watch our peers closely. and it is less common for us to celebrate the promotion, the new car, the fancy vacation, the home upgrade, the handbag... and more common for us to get that little pull of jealousy and lust in our hearts. when that gets in there, it tends to build a camp. the camp multiples and manifests and has the ability to bring all sorts of commotion to your heart. it disrupts the peace and contentment.
sometimes we love what we have and what our lives have shaped themselves into... until we see what HER life looks like and has shaped itself into... and we put ourselves on this scale and weigh what we loved against what someone else is rocking out and it turns what we once thought was beautiful into something really ugly.
i was at a dance comp yesterday, sitting in the audience, minding my own business trying to make it to the awards ceremony. my girl was done dancing for the day (and she danced her stinking heart out!) and i was exhausted. we had a few more hours to go before the awards were called and i was sort of just wasting time in the auditorium watching some of the other dancers.
a troop with very simple leotards pranced onto the stage, roughly 8 teenage girls and one teenage boy. i was intrigued because their costume was so simple, which is slightly unusual for a dance competition. they wore a navy leotard. basic, simple and also beautiful. and then they began to dance. i was overcome by beauty. they danced to a song i had never heard and i began to frantically try and search for it. the song, beautiful things by jordan smith, melted my heart... for me, for my pixie cut growing girl, for my dancer, for my little p... for my beautiful teenage babysitters... for my uninvited friends, for those that get jealous, for the one that feels ugly, for YOU.
(i swear this blog should be called diary of a lyric addict or something like that because so many posts are prompted by lyrics, but that's a whole different topic.)
"if once in your life you wished you were someone else..." - the opening line of the song... and that resonated with me in so many ways. you see, i grew up wanting to be anyone other than who i was. it haunted me for years. and lucky am i that in my twenties, i found a different story and melted into a truth that is my posture now- #ilovemylife, #blessed, #loved, #accepted, #chosen... a message of affirmation and acceptance, a message of contentment. and don't get me wrong, i have moments, lots of moments, where other messages burst into my heart. however, my goal and posture is not to rest in those negative messages but to seek and pursue the positive ones. i want to be surrounded by people and images and a life that fosters goodness.
but this isn't true for everyone. some of you struggle with this in ways where your heart can't rest in that. your heart doesn't feel that easily and the negative wins. the dark messages permeate. and it doesn't mean you are bad or wrong or less than... we are all wired differently.
but the truth is this. you are beautiful. you were made to be you. designed, crafted, and breathed into to be YOU. your contribution to this world matters. really, really matters.
"fight with the truth. just be yourself. just be YOURSELF. somehow we are beautiful things."
and look for the beauty. find it in you. it's there. i promise you. find it in me. even when it's hard to see. celebrate beauty. write positive messages on your heart and write them on mine. let's all put our hands in and vow to let #notinvited, #ugly, #jealous, (or whatever negative messages that you allow to rent space in your head) to be a thing of the past and let #beautiful be the message that we own.
and as jordan sings, as he crescendos into...
your God is a beautiful thing
our world is a beautiful thing
our mind is a beautiful thing
our bodies are beautiful things
and colors and wonders are
our voices are
your voices are
our voices just sing
my heart expands and swells into fullness because those messages are life giving.
i could end this post here.
but i won't because, for me, there is more.
for me, i only know how to write this message because of my Father. you see, back in my twenties i made a choice to choose God, Jesus and a message of redemption. i chose to live with The Holy Spirit in my heart and follow his lead. and as i did so, i learned and allowed him to write "beauty" on my heart.
don't get me wrong. i am filled with a whole ton of ugly. it is there. jealousy is down deep, too. but with Him, those messages get covered with grace and forgiveness and chosen, on a daily basis. often, it's like making a bed. i get up and feel those messages, the negative ones, and have to pull up the covers with the real messages that God wants me to feel, covering over and transforming the negative messages. it's a process. sometimes the bed making is quick and simple. other times, the bed making is as if i have twisted and turned all night, a little bit messier. more wrinkles to smooth over.
if part three isn't your jam, that's fine. my goal in writing is for you to know you're beautiful. and that is a wonderful place for anyone to rest in.
but if part three speaks to you a bit, i would encourage you to pursue it. pray, read, listen... let God write His message of beautiful in a transforming way.