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!
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