Remember the butterfly metamorphosis last summer? Gosh dangit I thought it was just a metaphor about my past.
Here I am, squished and changing in the dark. I have no clue when I will emerge or what I will look like. All I know for sure is I’m at the point of no return and my life will never look the same.
Anyone else going through their second adolescence? My tweenager adolescence doesn’t seem like it was as hard as what I’m experiencing now.
I’m getting laser hair removal for a frikin beard that my body decided to grow after having kids. Thanks a lot hormones! It’s not as bad as that lady in The Greatest Showman but still- it’s enough I needed to do more than waxing. So, after a struggle between practicality and vanity, I gave in and admitted I REALLY DON’T LIKE THIS and something MUST change.
And speaking of change, what DO I want to be when I grow up?
I KNEW when I was young. I always wanted to be a jungle nurse, a medical missionary, off saving the world. Big dreams, impressive dreams. Even if other people didn’t want to do what I wanted to do they would still be impressed. It always felt better when others approved my decisions.
Everything I did was focused on that goal: save the world one person at a time by living an other’s motivated self-sacrificial life.
I classified everything else as less valuable, less worthy, less important, and I focused on what I was good at- learning things about the body, medicine, health care. I developed my strengths and put myself in the optimal environment to grow into the best I could be. In that area.
You know those guys at the gym who always do arm day and never do leg day? I was that guy. Except instead of arms it was pouring my heart and soul into my nursing career and legs was almost everything else.
I took pride in my strength, in my profession. I valued new research and training new nurses how to be a better nurse. I loved sacrificially serving the sick and the poor in my hometown as well as across the world. That’s not a bad thing, it’s good!
At the same time, in complete honesty, I found my identity and value and worth in these abilities. I judged others who I deemed had “lesser” skills, like fashion or interior decorating or almost anything creative. I used my own pride as an excuse to ignore these same areas in my life which were difficult for me to develop.
I used to joke about if something was “Life or Death” as a measurement of value- If it’s not something that will kill you then why stress? I couldn’t understand why people with desk jobs would leave work stressed because a mistake at their job wouldn’t mean the life or death of a person. MY job did! So I felt justified when I arrogantly and wrongfully discounted the stress and concerns of others. Yet, if I would have been more self aware and honest, I would have admitted I DID stress about more than life or death….
Why can I have a dream about doing CPR and wake up happy yet start stress sweating about how to arrange (and buy) furniture for my living room? I have no clue, but that’s how I roll. And I’m only admitting it to myself now. It was like I went around with tank tops to show everyone how strong I was yet all the while wearing thick baggy pants to hide the fact I didn’t do leg day.
What tore off those baggy pants? What stripped me of the facades I so carefully constructed? What brought me to the sharp points of my weaknesses? Not what- Who.
My kids. They brought me way past the end of my strength. They are my clearest mirror. They made me realize life is more than being alive or dead- it’s about quality of life too. They made me realize I really need leg day. And guess what- as a mom, every day is leg day! And it gets uncomfortable…. REAL quick.
I realized wow, I have no idea how to manage my time on so many levels. I don’t know how to plan for quick and healthy meals. I have no strategy for which and how many clothes to get my kids for each season. Oh, and myself. I never learned to understand room design and composition to create a beautiful peaceful space without clutter. I didn’t know how to manage “stuff.” I don’t know how to pay attention or care for my own needs as well as the needs of my family. I didn’t know I was so emotionally immature. I honestly thought I wouldn’t get impatient with my kids like how I saw other moms get with their kids. (FYI I get it now!) I didn’t realize it was so hard for me to complete tasks without interruptions. I still don’t know how to do a really fancy eyeshadow or the appropriate clothing to wear for a non-casual girls night. I still don’t have heels that fit. Unless you count cowgirl boots. Then I do. Either way, the list goes on and on. Facing it is hard and my first impulse is to either deny or medicate.
Instead of meal planning I would just eat junk including most of sweets. I would just buy tons of random clothes for the kids and hope it worked. I would buy whatever was the cheapest and end up disappointed. I frikin painted our entire house a light yellow color without looking up ideas on how to decorate around that color. I have bought no less than 5 pairs of ill fitting heels because I don’t know how they are supposed to fit correctly. (Feel free to comment with suggestions or tips). I also have no idea how to not get upset when my kids don’t do what I want them to do all the time. I know it’s unrealistic but I still feel the feels.
In this and so many other ways I was living an unexamined life of poor quality, trying to run a the marathon of life on weak legs.
You may not be a mom, but I am sure you have your equivalent of leg day. Your equivalent of adult adolescence. Those underdeveloped areas in your life that are more convenient to devalue or ignore. Those areas you have judged others to make yourself feel better about not developing. Those areas that you secretly wish you were good at but are too afraid to admit need work. Yet something in your life is changing and bringing those things to the surface.
Admitting where we are at is simple but strong. It is an act of self ownership. It’s becoming an adult. Even if we admit areas in our lives are weak it doesn’t mean that is who we are. It doesn’t mean we are incapable of developing strength. Self awareness is not a fixed point. It is a temporary and ever-changing location from which we can choose a direction to go. It is necessary in order to choose a direction. Just like lifting weights, you have to be aware of your starting weight. Pretending you are stronger than you are can damage you and slow down or even stop your growth process completely. We have to know what we are working with to start building, otherwise it will always be arm day and we will never find fulfillment in the marathon of our life’s journey.
Is there an area in your life where you feel this discomfort? Or an area where, if you stopped ignoring or medicating that you could be honest with discomfort? Darkness is a gift. It helps us become aware of where we are at and where we want to be, even if it is “somewhere else.” The gift of desire points us towards who we were created to be and towards a deeper quality of life. We were mde for more than simply living to die.
What is the discomfort in your life showing you? What gift of perspective and awareness is the darkness showing you?
My facial hair issues made me realize, you know what? I don’t want to have facial hair. This discomfort was so strong I was forced to do something about it. I decided I needed to change and was uncomfortable enough to actualy take steps to change.
Leaving the nursing profession and staying home with the kids for this season made me realize I had very underdeveloped emotional maturity, homemaking skills, and personal health. I am learning my deep longing for a wholehearted integrated life which includes health and service, but also includes beauty, minimalism, and deep quality of life. I am finally allowing myself to look honestly at where I am at. Dang, it is uncomfortable- I often wish I was already strong in these things- but I am so thankful to finally admit I long for these things. This longing doesn’t mean I am selfish but is evidence of something deeply hopeful and good, the way the scent of a transient flower hints at the sweet fruit it will develop into. It is part of growing up, transitioning through discomfort into maturity.
Over the next few months I’m going to be focusing on the weak areas and what I’ve been doing to develop them. I would love to hear what areas you are interested in developing, no matter how big or small, how frivolous or noble. We are born with strengths and weaknesses but those things don’t define our quality of life because we are also born with the ability to grow and develop in purposeful and meaningful ways. This is good news to me, and I hope it is for you too.