It has taken thirty-eight years for me to start to feel it. This settling of my soul. This beginning of being comfortable with who I am and with who God made me to be.
For most of my life, I have been an apologizer – apologizing for anything and everything.
For who I am.
For who I’m not.
For what I’ve done.
For what I’ve failed to do.
And while apologies are meant to be a good thing – a time of expressing our sorrow over our sins and mistakes, a time for asking someone else to release us from the burden of what we have or haven’t done – apologizing for who you are doesn’t bring any kind of release. It doesn’t bring any form of peace.
Apologizing for who we are only brings bondage.
Apologizing for who we are burdens our souls.
Because when we apologize for who we are, we start tying ourselves to expectations we were never meant to keep. We start trying to be people we were never designed to be. And we get all tied up and tripped up by lies that say who God made us to be isn’t good or needed or beautiful.
Instead of being women walking in joy, women walking in freedom, women walking purposefully in the life God has laid out for us, we become women bound. Bound by fear and disappointment and insecurity. Women bound by the lie of “not enough”.
I know because this has been me. I have been a woman weighed down by discouragement because I cannot get anything quite right. A woman frantically working and striving to be more and do more because who I am just isn’t quite enough. A woman insecure and exhausted and on the verge of just giving up all together.
And as truth is finally settling in my heart and setting me free, I can’t help but wonder…
Why is this revelation to me?
That He isn’t waiting on me to be someone else.
And why has it taken me thirty-eight years to choose to let His Word sink in deep and settle me?
His Word that declares I am a masterpiece. I am. Not I will be. Not a when/then. As in, when I am more like her or him or her, then I will be one. I already am one. Right now. I am His masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus so I can do the good things He planned for me long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)
And why have I carried these apologies around in my soul for so long?
Lord, I’m sorry I’m not a woman who is super organized. I’m sorry I don’t work full-time, that trying to work more than part-time totally stresses me out. I’m sorry that I am not a nurse or a teacher or a missionary on foreign soil. I’m sorry I seem bent towards things that draw attention to me – things like writing and speaking. I’m sorry that I can’t seem to keep quiet in meetings when something stirs in my heart.
And I can’t seem to breathe in or out without saying it in some way.
The Lord called me out last week on apologizing for what I love to do. For loving to put words together in the hopes of blessing others.
I had just dropped all of my girls off at school, and as I drove home in the quiet of my van, He decided it was a good time for us to have a little heart to heart conversation. Questions stirred in my heart.
How much do you love words?
A lot, Lord.
Hasn’t your life been changed and impacted by the words of others?
Yes, Lord. Greatly.
And how thankful are you for others who share their words?
So why do you keep apologizing that you love to share words?
Right now I am reading Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning, and I love a quote tucked into a passage about the fruitlessness and foolishness of comparing ourselves with others.
“A fledging writer is at peace until he compares himself to William Faulkner. An adequate quarterback is satisfied until he compares himself to Joe Montana. I’m okay until I compare myself to Mother Teresa.
Israel Schwartz was sad because he wasn’t like Moses. One night an angel appeared to him and said, ‘On Judgment Day, Yahweh will not ask you why you were not Moses; he will ask you why you were not his beloved Izzy.'” (pgs. 141-142)
God will never ask me why I wasn’t more like the authors I admire or the leaders I look up to or the moms I feel like I pale in comparison to.
But He very well may ask me why who He designed me to be was never enough in my eyes.
And I keep seeing it more and more clearly – how every apology I make about who I am or who I’m not is actually me telling God He messed up. That He made a mistake. That how He designed me isn’t enough for this world or for the purposes He has for me.
Sweet. Mercy. I’m sorry, but who do I think I am?
And so He keeps encouraging me (through the words of others, no less), that who I am is good and needed and ENOUGH.
- I am a waker-upper and a comber of hair and a fixer of lunches in the morning.
- I am a helper with homework and a fixer of dinner and a welcome home kisser in the evenings.
- I am woman who works only two days a week and who fights with finding the desire to keep up with the dishes and the laundry the rest of the week.
- I am a woman who has a heart that is moved mightily by a good book – fiction or non-fiction – underlining passages, dog-earring pages, taking notes.
- I am a woman who loves to see God revealed in nature. If it is an illustration from His created world? It. Speaks. To. Me.
- I am a woman who gets so crazy excited when she hears from God or learns something new that she has to share it or straight up bust.
- And I am a woman who loves to craft words together. A woman who loves to journal. A woman who loves to write. A woman who loves to share her heart through both the written and the spoken word.
And that’s okay.
That’s all good.
That’s who He made me to be and where He has me right now.
And I can thank Him for every one of those bullet points instead of apologizing for them.
I want to share two quotes with you before I go. One is from THIS post – a post I linked to before. A post I have printed out and underlined for my own keeping.
“His Kingdom is Upside Down and in Him your part is large and lovely and needed and art.” ~Ann Voskamp
Your part. My part. Whatever those may be. They are lovely and needed and art. I love that.
And then these definitions:
“Artist – A person who is brave enough to move toward what makes her come alive.
Art – What happens when you dare to be who you really are; when what is most alive in you is offered as a gift to others.” ~Emily Freeman
This is what I want.
I want to live a life of making art. Showing up fully as a wife, as a mom, as a writer. Giving my family and the world the gift of me fully alive.
Art in the way I love my husband and my children.
Art in the way I care for my home.
Art in the way I share my heart through words.
Art because I keep offering the best of me.
Art because I know what I offer is beautiful and good and needed.
Art because it is settled in my heart – I am already a masterpiece.
The art of me being fully me. Me offering all of me – to my family, to my loved ones, to the world, to my God – without apology, trusting that what I have to offer is good.
Emily Freeman wrote a 31 day series celebrating artists who influence at her blog. And you know what? It wasn’t just 31 days of big name people. It was 31 days of all kinds of people. People who inspire by simply being who God created them to be. No apologies. You can check it out HERE.
Today, will you do this for me? If you struggle with apologizing for who you are and for who you aren’t, will you take a minute and ask God to help you celebrate? Ask Him to show you something beautiful and purposeful and wonderful that He has tucked into you. Ask Him to remind you that where you are and who you are matters. Ask Him to show you how your life is art.
I love you, dear friends.
Let’s let Him settle our hearts with truth.
Let’s be who He made us to be.
And without apology.