We have been on a roller-coaster in several areas of life, since we moved to Franklin. The past 2 years have been especially trying on several fronts (I’ll save the gory details for later!). Sure, most things have turned out fine in the long run, but we have scraped and fought and battled to be what most people would probably consider “normal.” Last year, I was overcome with the thought that something just wasn’t right. I couldn’t explain it except to say that I just didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like ME. The problem though, was that even in the realization that I wanted to get back to being myself, I couldn’t remember what that exactly meant. It wasn’t any one thing – it was a combination of complex issues, events, transitions and life changes that put me in a spot where I didn’t even really know how to get “ME” back.
Last summer, I organized and cleaned out several files and boxes. I ran across this photo. It was taken in the spring of 2008 at a family photo shoot. My talented friend Starla Steward Holl took it. I think we were trying to get Blake to do something. I was leaning on the back of a wooden bench and apparently something made me laugh. I don’t even think I knew she took it. And I’m 100% sure that nobody told me to “Say cheese.” Why? Because I’m laughing and genuinely smiling and the only way to get a photo of that is by surprise. What you may not know is that I’m notoriously awkward in photos. I’m not saying I’ve never taken a good photo, but it feels incredibly unnatural and brings out my awkwardness and insecurities, which tend to show up on my face. I’m sure Jud Davis could dig up some doozies if I asked!
When I ran across this photo, I thought, “Wow. I want to be THAT girl again.” I didn’t mean that I wanted to be younger – I meant that I wanted to be happy, confident, joyful, and carefree. If you asked me how I wanted to be remembered by my kids, this photo would be in the mix, perhaps even at the top.
After I saw the photo, I went on a sort of journey to get back to that person. I tried to remember what I was doing and where I was in life. What made me this happy? When this photo was taken, I had a job I enjoyed. It fueled my mental and spiritual needs. I was exercising. I was eating good food. I was taking care of my skin. I wasn’t being completely selfish, but I was taking care of my needs and not putting myself at the end of the list. I wasn’t being frivolous, but I think my priorities were in place and I took care of myself so I could be present in all the other ways.
That was then. This is now. Since this photo was taken, I have had two kids. I’ve gotten 1 years older. I have moved a couple of times. I have had several jobs, some fantastic and a couple of nightmares. We’ve made big decisions. We have had sleepless nights. We have had marriage highs and lows. I have been tested and have triumphed. I have run into several figurative brick walls. I have been angry with God. I have felt closer to God than ever. Suffice it to say that with all that has transpired since Spring of 2008, it’s no wonder I can’t remember what it was like to be that girl. She seems like a distant memory, like a friend I met once at Summer Camp. I’m not sure how to feel like that again. But, I’m going to try.
I use that photo to remind myself, not only of how I want to be but also to remind myself that how I feel on the inside shows up on the outside. I want to exude joy and happiness and the love of Jesus Christ. I want to take care of myself. It’s not a sin to be healthy and to prioritize my own needs. I want to feel beautiful. I want to glow. I want to radiate an inner confidence that comes from knowing exactly who I am, a precious daughter of God, and knowing that God is faithful to me. Therefore, I need to be faithful to “ME” as well.
I’m making a commitment to my health. I’m committed to running and working out. I’m making a commitment to my family. I want to pursue and to work in jobs that use the best of me and fulfill God’s plan for me. I’m making a commitment to take care of my skin and my body, so that the joy on the inside can be seen on the inside.
I know that God has wonderful plans for me. I don’t doubt it. There have been times when getting back to the “old me” has seemed impossible and overwhelming. Not so, any more. In fact, I know God isn’t getting me back to the old me, but getting me closer to a new and even better ME than I’ve ever been.