Authentic in 2015 – New Year’s resolutions??!
If there is anyone excited about an opportunity for fresh starts this year, it’s ME!! Growing up, we always talked about resolutions, my friends and I did. Usually it was a time for “what can I do that will please me”. Typically, I was known as the friend where you could get anything you need – a shoulder to cry on, help with homework, friendly advice, even the shoes off my feet (on more than several occasions!) My parents called me their “missionary child” because I was always helping someone, including every stray animal that crossed my path! I didn’t really think I needed to up my game in that department, I just needed to keep doing what I was doing. So the typical resolutions that made it to my list: lose weight, run my neighborhood M-F, save $XX before my birthday, etc. But in my mind, I felt incomplete. I spent so much time trying to help others and to be sure that those around me were satisfied that it became a habit to put my thoughts/wants/needs in a little box and on a shelf in the back of the room of my mind. It became such a habit that it had become a very heavy anvil that I carried daily with me. It became easier just to say, “whatever you want” when asked where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. I would just spit out phrases my parents spoke or others whom I knew I should value. It was too hard to sift through that very full room in my mind of chaotic needs that surrounded me in my life, to the back of the room to the tippy-top shelf to get to that tiny, little box where I put myself.
In the book “The Five Love Languages,” Gary Chapman refers to our “love tank” as a gauge to how fulfilled we are. We learn through his text which language we speak, and how often we are “spoken to” in our language is what fills our tank. We have a tendency to naturally lean towards “speaking” our own love language. There is a test in the book you can take that tells you what language you speak, but I think you probably can tell for yourself which language fills you the most (and it can change through the seasons of our life). And it’s not what you want to project, or think is the one you should feel, but what truly makes you feel loved. He labels the languages as:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
And as you can imagine, in those days (and for years afterward) I found myself with a very low tank. Forget New Year’s resolutions, I had no idea what I needed or even wanted, I was just going through the motions. And like anything else, you let your tank get too low, it’s like a car running out of fuel. For a while you can get by on fumes, but pretty soon, you just putter out. The tank must stay full to be able to keep going.
In these last few years, my physical self has been a manifestation of my internal self. 2014 in particular, saw me run through 5 courses of shingles, countless infections, allergies to medicine, activating my digestive condition through these illnesses, systemic poison ivy, multiple tick bites and more . . . all precipitated by extreme stress. Deep depression naturally followed. The stress was hitting me from every perceivable angle: personal, marital, familial, social, financial, volunteer work, and career. You name it, it was as high it had probably ever been in every aspect. I realized that God had passed the throwing a pebble stage, moved on to the stone, the brick, the wall and was now pushing on the levy.
Now, if you ask my parents, I am stubborn. If you ask everyone else, I’m a pushover. In this case, I was hanging on to my right to be a pushover. I was so caught up in giving that I let my own needs go in the midst of it. OK, God, I’m getting the point!
I needed to let go of everything and focus on health first. Now, I am a very goal-oriented person. Give me a pad and a pen and tell me where we goin’, and I can plan it out to the minutest of details, dude, and I will GET there! (Eventually.) But typically, I forget this one word in the English language and end up stretching myself out so thin, I have days I forget to comb my hair! The word is “no”. And that my friends, leads to an EMPTY tank. But I found it confounding…..I felt so good helping others, why didn’t that just fill me up?
There have been many times in my life, in different areas of my life, where I have a decent amount of knowledge and although I don’t consider myself an “authority” I can certainly pass that on to others without bias. And many times, I find myself “shrinking” either because someone else is naturally authoritative, maybe condescending, and even sometimes because they are threatened by me but mostly out of fear. Some of those people are rude, cocky, vocally abusive – and it can be embarrassing to make a mistake and have one of those people call you out! Talk about wanting to shrink! But many, many times, I would find someone who would shrink themselves in MY presence and in order to boost their self-confidence, I would shrink myself. I didn’t want anyone to feel bad or “less than” like others had done to me, and so I would not be authentic to who I am and play that I was less knowledgeable or less talented or less able, etc, in order to lift up whomever it was who was so insecure. It created such an imbalance in my life that it began to create an insecurity in me. Have you ever done that? All of those instances happening in different areas of your life at once creates such DIS-ease (read here: disease) emotionally, that your body follows suit soon after.
One of my most favorite quotes outside of scripture of all time is by Marianne Williamson in her book, A Return to Love, and it speaks to exactly how I feel.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?”
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
So, this year, the same as the last few years – I have no “resolutions”, but more of a restitution. It’s a return. I have been cleaning out the chaos in that room in my mind. There’s a calling on my life that truly I’ve only been giving the nod to, but not in genuine pursuit of. I’m dusting off the shelf and opening that little box and shewing away the gnats of regret, fear and distraction and moving forward. I aim to find out just exactly what fuel it takes to fill this tank so I can keep filling the tanks of those I love and those I come across who need their tanks filled as well! Authentic . . . me. That means, I may be stepping on some toes – you may feel convicted by something I say or share. Maybe, I will prick your heart about your own life. Maybe, you will share with me something that helps me on my journey. Any which way the road turns, stepping out doesn’t mean there isn’t fear, it’s in spite of fear.
Won’t you join me? What do you need to do to follow your calling – without fear? Do you know what you need to fill your tank?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
― H. Jackson Brown Jr., P.S. I Love You