Tag Archives: acceptance

Just Be You

Just be you.

That’s the advice my friend used to give me when I would go off on a tangent trying to fix myself and figure out my calling and when I wonder about why I was here and what I should do and what other people think of me.

I used to think he was just trying to get me to stop talking but now I realize it is really good advice.

This came up again today when I was sharing a story with some friends.

On vacation, I was walking the beach collecting shells with my sixteen year-old daughter. This is totally her thing.  She loves to be in nature, walking slowly, not talking.  It’s a stretch for me, especially the no talking part.  But honestly, just the fact that she allowed me to walk alongside her is enough for me.  I’m desperate to spend time with her and know her.  As for her…she’s not that into me.  So we walked in silence.

She picks up everything that is beautiful.  Which means she picks up every shell.  She doesn’t care if they are broken. She has a bucket full of broken shells.

Meanwhile, I’m running some weird imaginary race down the beach looking for perfect shells that are shiny and not broken.  I present them to her like it’s a contest.  Look at my shells, aren’t they pretty?  I did good, right? Accept me, admire me, love me…tell me I’m good at this.  She just shrugs and continues on her peaceful journey.

At the end of the walk she has a beautiful bucket of broken messy shells and I have one or two lone “perfect” shells.

I could write volumes about what this means.  About how obviously she understands life and I don’t.   How she’s having fun in a community of broken shells while I’m lonely with the shells that just want to look like they have it all together.  I could beat myself up about my striving and needing attention and wanting to be liked and admired.

But let’s wait on that.  It gets worse for me.

I say to her, “Why don’t we buy some frames or something to put the shells on to make them useful?”  And she says, “Or we could just let them be.”

Or we could just let them be.

It was such an important moment for me as a mom.  I saw me. And I saw her. And I started regretting all the times I didn’t let her be.  I started thinking about all the times I tried to fix everything for her and how I still continue to do it today and how I hope she knows she doesn’t need fixing.  About how I hope she doesn’t resent me and how I wish I could take back all the times I may have given her the impression that she’s not enough.

I was telling a few friends about this and about how awful I am as a mother and person and they stopped me cold.

They reminded me there is no one right way to be and there is beauty in the way my daughter is yes but there is beauty in me…so much beauty.  There is beauty in the mother lion me that comes out when my kids need me to defend them.  There is beauty in the striving and the fixing when I need to kick it into high gear.  There is beauty in my relationships that are messy and complicated.  There is beauty in who I am.  Even when I screw up and my kids have to teach me. There is beauty in them teaching me.

My friends were saying,  “Just be you.”

Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting to be better that I forget I’m already good.

I’ve been asking God lately for direction and He has answered loudly and clearly with one directive: “rest”.  Stop doing.  Don’t try to fix or change anything.  He wants me to be still and trust that I am enough…that He is enough…that He has me and my daughter in His hands. He’s got this.

“In stillness and trust is your strength.” – Isaiah 30:15

Here’s the thing.  God loves me all the time. He wants me as I am.  He’s saying come to me, let me have your heart…the one that is messy and broken and imperfect…the one that is beautiful and kind and loving and faithful.  The one the world needs.

“Just be you”, He says.  “I’ll handle everything else.”

**This post is dedicated to all the moms who doubt themselves sometimes.  For all the ways we criticize ourselves or wish we were different or compare…for the anxieties and fears and “what if I really messed these kids up” moments.  This is for all my friends who say, “Just be you” and mean it.  You are all beautiful. Happy Mother’s Day! 

you are beautiful


©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved


Keeping it Real – My Messy Beautiful

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!


 When someone asks you how you are, what do you say?

I think it’s easier to tell people you are a mess.  People like to hear that.  It’s more difficult to say you feel beautiful.  Or  your life is beautiful.  Can you imagine if we walked around saying everything was beautiful?  Everything. All the time. People would be like Whatever. You are annoying. Just to remind us.

The good thing is that you can say you are both, a mess and beautiful.  It’s not a one or the other.  It’s a “Yes, I’m messy AND I’m beautiful”.  If we posted the truth on Facebook, it might look like this:  Hey my kids are dirty and stinky and sassy and right now I’m pretty sure they will never amount to anything good but I still love them.  Or:  My husband and I had a rip roaring argument last night and I think I actually hate him right now but marriage can be a beautiful thing and I know I’m learning and growing and we love each other a whole lot.  Or:  I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life.  I really am lost and afraid and I feel alone and I think I may be going crazy but I’m sure I will look back at this as a really beautiful time of searching for me.  The truth is, you may be having a terrible moment but your whole life is not rotten.

We get so used to complaining and commiserating that we tend to choke on the positive words.  Have you ever asked someone how they are doing and they answer, “I’m fantastic! Never been better!”  I love that.  Are they really fantastic?  Are they just trying to convince themselves?  Who cares!  It always makes me smile and I feel pretty fantastic just being around them.  Perception is everything.

AND Marianne Williamson said (so I believe), “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” By this I think she means we should say we are fantastic when we are feeling it and we can say we are a mess when we are feeling that and there will be no shame in either.  Because we all know we are both.  Messy and Beautiful.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Jesus lately and I’ve noticed something.  When I tell Him I feel messy and confused and lost, He tells me I’m beautiful.  When I go to him all puffed up and full of myself and how I’ve totally got this whole life thing together, He immediately shows me my mess.

It’s like with my kids.  If they come to me needy and feeling insecure and they’ve really messed something up, I encourage them and love on them and tell them they are beautiful and wonderful.  But if they come to me all bossy pants telling me how great they are and demanding a bunch of stuff I tell them they are actually really just okay and and then I tell them to go clean their room.  Just to keep it real.

It’s called balance.

So I’ve gotten comfortable with my messiness since it’s the thing that’s gotten me closer to Jesus.  He wants my mess.  I go to Him like a child and crawl up on His lap for a rest, for Him to tell me I’m beautiful.  It’s so comforting I’ve started doing it every day.  You know, checking in to get some love.  Sometimes many times a day.  Like, Hey…are you still there?  I need some love.  And He’s always there.

All those secrets we keep in the darkness, all the messy stuff we hide…Jesus wants that.  He’s like…seriously, bring it.  You don’t scare me.  So we tell Him our secrets and our fears.  We may think they are dark and ominous and scary but when we tell Him, He shines His beautiful light on them and they are transformed.  Maybe not right away transformed but just by the telling…just by saying the bad stuff out loud…we enter into a new freedom.  We receive His grace and we are not scared anymore.  He makes beauty from ashes.   It says so in the Bible which is my absolute favorite book of all books ever.  It’s THE Love letter for all time and all people.  Beauty from ashes. 

I ask Him to help me be brave when I am messy or having a bad day/week/month/year/decade. I ask Him to help me see the beautiful.  And you know what He does?  He gives me brand new eyes.  I start seeing things I never even noticed before. So now I can see the gorgeous shiny light in other people.  All the people.  It’s fun!  Life becomes a big giant party for all the awesome people which is obviously everyone.  It’s the kind of party where you are having so much fun with the music and the dancing and the laughter and the sharing that you don’t even notice the mess (yours or anyone else’s).  And when you wake up the next day you don’t care about the mess because the love is so much bigger.  You are exhausted and sore in a good way from laughing and dancing and telling your stories and being accepted and loved.  You feel safe.

Safe enough to answer the question, “How are you?” with the truth…whatever that may be.

great big yes photo  

©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big YES™ All Rights Reserved

Be Encouraged!

Image Last week I wrote about how difficult it can be to write honestly when I worry about people’s reactions.  I know that I shouldn’t care about that but I do. I want to be liked.  It’s important to me (sometimes too important) that people are happy and not offended and everyone plays nice together.  Plus, I really like “likes” on Facebook and hits on the blog and I can get wrapped up in numbers and all those outwardly ways we measure our importance.  And then I know better.  I know it’s not about me and I want to share God’s message of hope and love and I want to and need to let Him lead so then I feel guilty and selfish and I feel like I failed.  So there it is. Just laying it out there again in case you missed it.

God responded with these encouragements:

1: Post from Anne Lamott:  “This brings us back to the best riddle of all time. Q: What’s the difference between you and God? A: God NEVER thinks He’s you. So write what’s on your heart, even if your best friends won’t love it. We are in the striving business but God is in the results business, so the exact right people will read/like my book, and yours; and you know what? This is SOOO awful–the other’s won’t.”    (I bolded that sentence myself because it’s SO GOOD and spoke directly to me.  I have to say I was relieved to read that she struggles with these same issues.) Read the whole post here:   https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott

2: Post from Alisa Keeton with Revelation Wellness:   “Don’t look around to see who is following or listening. Keep looking ahead at the One who is leading you. For all leaders, He has to be enough.”    Read more from her here:  https://www.facebook.com/revelationwell

Isn’t He good?

When we lay our burdens and our shortcomings out on the table, he can transform those things.  We have to admit where we need grace.  First, we have to admit that we need grace at all.

We started a Bible study group at our church this week and it’s called Stuck.  Some people (okay, sometimes me)  don’t want to admit they are stuck or broken.  They don’t see themselves as sinners.  But we have to start there.  We have to admit we are in need of the good news.  The word “Gospel” means good news.  For something to be good news, it has to invade the broken spaces, the not so good spaces, the spaces where we are stuck.

Where are you stuck? Where are you broken?

Some of you may be cringing right now thinking that you are not broken.  Some of you are offended.  You have worked hard to build up your “goodness”, your “perfectness”, your face that you show the world.  Heck, you may have even convinced yourself.  But if we were not broken, if we are not sinners…why would we need a Savior?

For the good news to be “good”, we must need to hear it, right?

I did not experience the transformative power of God’s grace in my life until I admitted that I need it.

Lay it out there.  Speak it.  Write it.  Pray about it.  Bring Light to the ways you are struggling.

He will hear you.  He will respond.  Probably through others who have walked this path and heard His voice and courageously follow His lead.

Be encouraged friends, you are not alone.  We are all in this together and He is good!

©2013 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big YES™ All Rights Reserved