But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time
The Lumineers, Cleopatra
Are you the biggest bully you know? Not to other women, but to yourself? Do you talk to yourself in a way that you wouldn’t dream of talking to a friend or even a stranger?
When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you notice the great qualities in your appearance or do you pick apart the flaws that feel like a neon sign? When you make a mistake– as a friend, wife, mother…do you put yourself down or do you offer the same grace you would offer a friend?
What makes us put on this lens that focuses on the negative we see in ourselves? Why do we put on a different lens for our friends, family and strangers?
Be kind to yourself.
My friend said these words to me as we were closing in on the finish line of my second ultra marathon. I was about 4 miles away from completing 52.4 miles, the longest distance I had ever run, and I knew I wasn’t going to meet my time goal. So I started talking out loud: I’m not going to make it. I can’t believe I couldn’t get it done in time (an arbitrary time I had chosen). I felt like the time I had taken away from my family to train, to take the trip for the race had all been a waste. I was feeling like a failure. As if I was going to let everyone who donated to the cause I was running for down. Never mind that I was going to finish this race, even if it meant I was going to crawl to the finish line. Some people see that quality in me as crazy. Others will give it to me as a compliment–you are inspiring! But no, I couldn’t even see what I was about to finish–something that had started almost a year before–with training day in and day out–every weekend dedicated to putting the miles in to get me across a finish line I couldn’t even see at the time. Persistence. Passion. Grit. But all that meant nothing to me in the moment as I focused in on what I felt like I was failing at—crossing the finish line 6 minutes after I had hoped to.
Be kind to yourself.
When she said those words, I realized in that moment, that I’m hardly ever kind to myself. I pick apart my flaws. I focus on the fails instead of the successes. The flaws instead of the goodness. And during that moment, I wondered, how, how can I be kind to myself? And I realized it was in the same way I would encourage a friend: by noticing the good. I continued to run and finish up those last four miles–one step at a time–all while reminding myself of how many miles I had put behind me–never giving up.
I try to see the goodness in others. I work hard to choose forgiveness over grudges. Can’t I do that for myself?
Compared to others, my relationship with God is new. I’m still learning and while I knew intuitively that God wouldn’t do anything but create us whole and complete, these were the words I needed to confirm what I knew deep down:
Colossians 2:10 teaches that we have been given fullness in Christ: “…and in Him you have been made complete.”
Lisa TerKeurst’s wise words tell us: “Don’t put the wholeness of your identity into the smallness of a situation.” And I would add to that–don’t put the wholeness of your identity into just a small piece of you. Forgive yourself. Give yourself grace. I’ve written before that we should tell our friends that they are good moms….but why don’t we give ourselves that same love and grace. Can we stop being our own biggest bully and allow ourselves to see ourselves whole. Complete.
I’m a chronically late person. Sometimes it has to do with me misjudging the amount of time it will take me to get 4 kids + myself ready. Sometimes it has to do with my social anxiety–avoiding getting ready because I’m avoiding whatever event requires me to be at a certain place on time. And so I drag my feet, change my shirt one too many times, take longer than I really need to on my makeup. But eventually, I will talk myself into getting into my car and going–even knowing wherever I go might make me want to retreat within myself. And when I read posts about the disdain of others being late–not understanding that some of us require more than a time to be there but words of encouragement that we should show up–I start berating myself. Why can’t you be polite enough to be on time? Why do you have to be so scared? Why doesn’t your brain work the way it does for everyone else who doesn’t struggle with anxiety and panic attacks—why are you not whole?
And deep down I know piecing our broken selves back together is what makes us shine. I’m not missing any pieces. I was made whole. I’m complete. The whole of me isn’t anxiety. The whole of me isn’t my alopecia. Or the way I procrastinate. Or the way I sometimes lose my temper too quickly. The whole of me isn’t the mistake I made as a mother in one parenting moment– in one moment– in one day. Those are pieces of me…and in those pieces are also layers of goodness.
The golden rule is taught to us at a young age: Treat others the way you want to be treated. But perhaps it needs a subclause: Treat ourselves the way we treat others. And when we do that, we will stop being our own biggest bullies.
I dare you. Be kind to yourself.
“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” Anne Lamott
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