I am not all that. Yes, you read that right. My name is Melinda, and I am not all that. So not all that.
Where does this random remark coming from, you ask? It’s just an overwhelming desire to express that we are all the same… beautiful, flawed messes. Sorry I called you a mess; I didn’t mean it in a bad way, just a raw, honest, “me too” way. I am overwhelmed by the continuing revelation of what I knew to be true but am finding to be more obvious as the years go by. The fact is, none of us have it all together. Not one. But we hold that truth tightly inside and try desperately to convince the outside world (and ourselves) that we are ok, we are good, and we have it under control.
I’m not entirely sure why. I know there was an era… or several… where women were taught to juggle their hats and do it with a smile. That feeling (overwhelming or impossible) was not to be admitted, no rocking of the boat allowed. Times have changed, and the views of women’s duties have very much shifted. But that underlying don’t let them see you cringe or struggle understanding has continued to be a silent and deadly undercurrent in our thinking. What a gift for the enemy of our souls.
Not long ago, I was honored to share with an amazing group of women at a retreat. I had never before shared with that size crowd, or on the topic I was teaching. But God opened the door, and I took His hand and walked through it. The subject was repurposing old things and seeing beauty and new functions in the ordinary and junk. It was a trash to treasure type of thing. I felt led to end with a quick pep talk on imperfections, because anytime you create anything there will be imperfection. To emphasize my point on doing it regardless of imperfections, I removed my boots to reveal a quirky and obvious foible. I always encourage ladies to chop the arms off their old sweaters and use them as cute boot socks. I have done it for years and love the look AND how warm my legs stay in winter (and spring apparently). But I am a terrible seamstress and never take the time to even trim the sweater pieces. So I removed my cute boots and stood there with my dorky sweater arms bell-bottoming off my knees. It got a laugh, but better yet it resonated.
As I walked along side the women the rest of the retreat, I heard more than once something to the effect of “I was thinking, look at her, she has it all together and can do all that cool stuff… and then you took your boots off and I realized you are just like me…. maybe I can do that cool stuff too!”
Wow. Can I tell you that each time I heard someone say they thought I had it all together I was in such shock and wanted to sit them down and start sharing all the ways I don’t. None of us do.
And you know what? That is ok. It really, really is!
You see, I had spent the whole previous week fighting lies and insecurities. The battle was on and I knew it was because I was going to be sharing, but that didn’t make it any easier. I fought doubt about my abilities and ideas, insecurities about my… well all of me (smile), and fear of not being enough to do what had been asked of me. It was a horrible week of warfare, and it was all I could do not to just agree with all of the lies and give up. Have you ever been there? I know I’m not the only one.
We need to know that don’t we?
Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. In fact each person you encounter today is going through some internal struggle, is just coming out of one, or at the very least has experienced them.
There is this overwhelming need to be fine, and to convince others and ourselves that we are. We don’t have to do that. To be that. There is beauty and freedom in honesty with one another.
There is a divine connection that happens when you let down your guard, and your I’m fine mask even a little bit and say me too. In that moment both hearts breathe deeply and release the heaviness slowly. We aren’t alone.
And the grace found in that realization is a treasured gift. A grace to see each other differently. To see ourselves differently. Grace to be ok with the messy.
We are weary. We are broken. We aren’t perfect. And it is ok. It is good actually. We can’t live under those burdensome expectations and thrive fully in the life God has created for us. We can’t be and do ourselves into the mold of what we think we are supposed to be. We need to let go and be who we are. Mess and all. Weaknesses and flaws. For in that, in our admitted weaknesses and mess, God is strong and he is able to flow unhindered through us and out into the world.
Our weaknesses are the greatest conduit for his greatness.
I am not all that. But I’m most certainly His.
And that works for me.