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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Walking Contradiction

I can be hard on myself.

It’s true. I’m a walking contradiction, vacillating between making excuses or drawing a firm line in the sand that must not be crossed, or else... I shudder to think what the or else might be, but these half-painted toenails are going nowhere near that line, on the off chance God has sent an army of sand crabs just waiting for my chubby toes to try to step over.

Most days, especially since I started writing about identity, truth in the innermost being, I’m so focused on gut-pulling honesty, I’m seeing more of the not-so-great than the great things about me.

It’s like I think God’s going to read this stuff and yank my calling out from under me, as if He didn’t already know I drive too fast, (the kids have told him repeatedly—usually while we’re in the car). I bite my nails when I’m worried, and watch Days of Our Lives with almost as much passion as I read the Bible.

I cry out to Him, why do you love me? Why are you using me? Once people know the truth about me they’re going to hate me and probably burn all my fiction books—even the Prairie romances. Why do you care if I live or die—actually, you probably want me to live, dear Lord, because if I die, you are bound by your word to take me in. And then you’re stuck with me. For all eternity, which is way longer than Rusty has to put up with me since there’s no marriage in heaven.

Let me just be real, here. A perfectionist who is never perfect has MAJOR self-worth issues.

Lori, my counselor says, “I think you need to give yourself a break.” (she was talking about my tendency to think I need to work within the four walls of the church only to get overwhelmed—pull back—then feel like a big slug).

Uh, no. when I give myself a break, I make excuses for myself. (I really need to tell this to my counselor??).

From my mom, “You feel so guilty for the times you didn’t do the right things, you forget all the great things you did for the kids when they were little.”

Whatever, Mom. You’re Mom, and by the way, what do you mean the times I didn’t do the right things? I can say I messed up, but you aren’t supposed to agree with me!

My Forever Friend, Jules, after reading a section of this book, “I thought you were a little too honest or maybe just too hard on yourself.”

Ah, Forever Friend, Jules, you just don’t know me well enough.

From my dear, wise agent, Karen, “He (the devil) is not hounding you because you're off base, pal, he's doing it because you're smack-dab on target.”

Yes, she has a point, and she called me pal—which now makes me think we are bffs.

So today, these words are floating around my mushy, took-a Benadryl-last-night-and-now-I’ll-be-less-than-functional-today brain. It’s six-thirty in the evening and that stuff STILL hasn’t worn off, despite the two pots of coffee.

I can’t stop thinking about what my closest peeps are telling me. Is it possible? AM I in fact too hard on myself. Hmmm. Maybe I should give myself a break.

OH NO! What I told Lori is true, I can feel excuses coming on—in cliché form, which is death to a writer. I’m not perfect, just forgiven. God hates the sin, but LOVES the sinner, let go and let God. And the deadliest of all, Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.

Today, I realized—in a non-excuse sort of way—that, no, I’m not too hard on myself, (actually, Karen doesn’t think I’m too hard on myself, either). I was reading Romans 12 today where Paul says, "See yourself for what you truly are." I want that. I'm ordinary with extraordinary potential. Just like all of us. Whether I step out of ordinary into purpose truly is my choice to make. And it's tough.

BUT

There must be joy in this journey as well. Because anything less is a lie from the one who is nothing but lies.

Joy is my strength.

Strength is my courage.

Courage propels my to make the next shaky step.

For now, my shaky step is to admit I have some good qualities, which is often harder than admitting my faults. We are supposed to be humble, you know.

So here are a few great things you might like to know.

I have green eyes. I happen to think that’s cool. I really thought it was cool after reading Gone With the Wind.

I’m a devastatingly good cook (although the kids remember, and often mention, the pumpkin pie with no sugar and the eggplant crust pizza—from one of the low carb phases of my life).

I can almost always keep the car on the road as long as I’m not looking at the radio for too long combined with driving too fast. Another good thing car-related thing—I don’t text and drive, although I’ll admit I do talk on the cell and drive. Sorry Oprah, I tried. But I back off the accelerator during conversations.

I’m a crack-shot aim with death-in-a-can. I’ve been known to kill wasps, hornets, and the occasional bee from four feet away. I usually get a face full of the stuff when I do this, so not sure it’s a good idea—but I can do it. With Annie Oakley precision.

I’m loyal to my friends and family—in a love-me-love-my-dog sort of way.

I rarely use improper grammar. Unless I need to make a point.

My husband laughs at me at least twice a day—Ha! Ha! laughter, not the mocking variety.

Did I say I’m a good cook?

Okay, that’s enough for now. I’m starting to get a big head--besides, I can't think of anything else. But you get the point.

I have times of failure and times of victory. I’m pretty sure the balance is starting to tilt toward V. But sometimes it’s hard to take note of the good things when the enemy of my soul is, as Karen says, “hounding” me. Accusing me, screaming that I’ve always started strong and finished short of the goal—hello? Does he NOT realize I carried four babies from start to finish and have great kids to prove it? Also, my twenty-three year marriage—if that’s not success… 40 books published. Yeah, God and me.

Not a total failure.

So, I’m getting it. So grateful for the people in my life who tell me the truth when I’m falling short, but also when I’m doing well.

We’re not meant to struggle or celebrate alone.

And I’m learning that.

Yay, God.



2 comments:

Kristine McGuire said...

May I also add you are a devastatingly good writer, and a person I feel blessed to call a good friend. :)

Tracey Bateman said...

I'm blessed to be YOUR friend. And thank you, Kristine.

 
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