Being fully me is so much better than being an imitation version of someone else. — Lysa Terkeurst
I began my first morning of teaching the Abound study today. A Tuesday morning women’s bible study at the Grace Eden Prairie Campus. This week we will dive in and study The I Am statements in the book of John. Using Lysa Terkeurst’s book Finding I Am, I am excited to lead ladies in discussion of these 7 -I Am statements and to discover together how everything Jesus said was so perfectly timed and directed at the right people. Knowing Jesus, who He is as Savior, and believing that He alone Saves us, Our Hope is found in Him and that we are able to find our Joy and Happiness in Him and Him alone, is so very important and encouraging as we take a stab at this thing called life. We were never expected to do it alone. And I for one am so very thankful to have The Word as my daily guide.
I realized this morning as I pulled in to the parking lot, that I was filled with angst. I wasn’t nervous but realized I was apprehensive. I have spent my life encouraging, speaking truth to and guiding women, so what were all these unsettling feelings I was dealing with? I figured it out quite quickly. Not because I am super smart or perceptive or even have a fine grasp of my own feelings. I realized what I was feeling because I have felt this way before. Many times. I was apprehensive entering a room of women I do not know, because of the possibility of facing judgement. Judgement that has been placed on my shoulders in the past that has often times left me feeling defeated and burdened.
When I write, I usually dissect conversations and interactions with people. Sometimes, it will be a memory of something that happened 25 years ago. And sometimes it is from that morning in the grocery store check out lane. I write of conversations that moved me, that hurt me, that irked me, that inspired change, that enabled me to move forward, conversations that made me laugh, and even cry. I have even written about the the times when I have been clearly judged. Yet I put myself out there time and time again.
I have what some would describe as a larger than life personality. I love to laugh and talk and enjoy the silly things that I seem to face every day. I usually remind myself to reign the silliness in and involve others in conversation. I will talk about the hard stuff, and make every attempt to find humor in the mundane and even challenging aspects of life. I smile more than most people. It is often brought to my attention that I am always smiling. I enjoy life. That joy finds it way to my face. And that genuine smile sits comfortably and is rarely hidden from others. But with a frequent appearance of a smile, those that have yet to know me, often will judge me. They decide that all those smiles must be for show, and that a disingenuous woman hides somewhere in there.
What has become of all this misplaced, ill suited judgement? I have become a women who is very aware of her words and facial expressions. I second guess what I have said and pray that I could have been more articulate even in one on one conversations. I have made attempts at becoming a version of myself that I think more people can handle. I have become an imitation of myself.
That imitation of me isn’t someone I want to be. It isn’t real, it isn’t true. It might be someone else, someone that isn’t judged so much, but it is someone who I am not. In all my years, why would I want to live my life as an imitation of someone else? When I wake up each morning, I need to be who God made me, Fully Me. I need to be the wife, mother, and friend he designed me to be. I need to be the smiling woman at the registration table welcoming women who aren’t sure where they belong. I need to be the woman who hugs others and smiles freely when funny and touching stories are shared. I need to be who I am. Created by a God who knew what He was doing. Who knew that smiles would be questioned, but not my heart when people get to know me. I need to be a woman who is genuine, the same in public as I am in private.
So each morning, I make the decision. The decision to be fully me, rather than who I think other people want me to be. Fully me, rather than the version I think is easier to handle. Fully me, means a full on smile. Be ready for it. I can assure you, one is coming.