This past spring we gathered our kids and their families together for a week at the beach. Leading up to it, everyone was excited and making plans.
About a week before the trip, my normally tranquil Mrs. Jeckyl personality took a leave of absence. In its place, ugly Mrs. Hyde took up residence in my brain. Fueled by the evil one, she started berating me for how I look in a swimsuit, how I should exercise more and eat better. Before I could steady myself from the onslaught, she took jabs at other areas of my life: I don’t write enough; I don’t read enough scripture; I don’t spend enough time in prayer. Even more areas came under fire, but I’ll spare you the details.
Some days it’s exhausting living inside my head.
Just when the self-pummeling promised to ruin any chance I had of feeling even slightly okay about myself during a rare occasion to have all our chickens roosting under one roof, I read this from Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life):
What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, or imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen
What if my weight doesn’t determine my worth?
What if the size (or style) of clothes in my closet doesn’t determine my value?
What if the number of pieces I get publish doesn’t define me?
What if God really loved the world (including me) so much he sent his only son?
I know the answers, but sometimes my heart isolates itself and convinces me otherwise.
Anne Lamott’s question helped me steady myself, regain my composure and pray, asking the Holy Spirit to silence the (very loud) critic inside me and help me hear only His voice.
And in his grace, He did. He reminded me
1. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and I live because of Jesus’ faithfulness. (Galations 2:20)
2. My hope is to never be ashamed, but that Christ will be exalted in me. (Philippians 1:20)
3. God, who began the good work within me, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6)
Our beautiful family gathered at the beach. For a week I
• played with my grandsons,
• walked the beach every day because the ocean is beautiful and the company was wonderful,
• ate lots of wonderful food including fruits, veggies, fish, burritos, salsa, chocolate cake, fruit tart and key lime pie,
• wore a swimsuit every single day, sat in the hot tub and swam in the pool,
• read scripture some days,
• read a light, entertaining book,
• wrote exactly zero words (Unless you count grocery lists. If grocery lists count, I wrote a lot that week!)
I’m pretty sure no one went away thinking about how I looked in a swimsuit, or how much more I should exercise or how much “better” I should eat. They don’t think I’m shallow for reading a lighthearted book, or lazy because I didn’t write.
Instead, we all remember
• sitting around the table one evening simultaneously celebrating an achievement and encouraging each other through struggles, hard decisions and circumstances out of our control,
• biking the beach back to the condo as the tide was swiftly coming in,
• mornings on the balcony sharing coffee, snuggles with the grands, laughter and expectations for the day ahead,
• building sand castles,
• fishing for our dinner and only coming up with (very small) sharks,
• love and togetherness
We all left the beach and returned to our homes in different states feeling closer to each other because of our time together and our shared conversations and experiences.
And to think I nearly let the evil one get a foothold in my brain and sabotage my spirit.
Buh bye, Mrs. Hyde. You’re not welcome anymore. I’ve given your space to the Holy Spirit. He’ll be living here now.