One night, I was washing my face in silence, in my dark bathroom, like I often do. The iPhone light was the only light. It was shining in the sink, so the overhead light didn’t wake Scott up. Per usual, I was the last one up after getting the kids to bed, talking, laughing, and praying with them. Then dragging my tired body downstairs to begin my “bedtime routine”.
At that point, it’s just about getting the job done so I can get to bed.
Get the face clean. Apply all the anti-aging, anti-acne, anti-everything creams. Teeth brushed, brace retainers in, pills taken. Just doing all the things so I can get to bed and try not to wake up looking as old and haggard as I sometimes feel.
But ever since the December Girls Night Out, I’ve been doing a little bit of my own work on the homework assignment I gave the ladies there.
I’ve been trying to actually look at that girl in the mirror, and say nice things to her. I mean, I’ve been looking in her eyes. And it’s a lot harder than I imagined it would be.
Have you ever tried it?
The very first time, I looked up with white suds all over my face and my eyes caught hers. I forced the words, “She’s doing the best she can.” Tears instantly rolled through the suds. “. . . and she’s doing a darn good job.” The sobbing started. And I had to look away. It was too hard. Too much. Too deep.
I’m a 7 on the Enneagram, and I learned this year that explains that I’ve spent my entire life avoiding pain.
That was an eye-opening revelation for me. It gave context to so many experiences. Things I’ve never understood about my story and my past suddenly made more sense. Staring pain straight in the eyes has always been too much for me. I can talk my way all around it. I can take a great nap and forget it ever happened. I can make you laugh. I can plan all the fun. I can run out and play all day long . . .
But drudging through pain (on purpose) has never been my specialty.
One night recently I was washing my face, while simultaneously looking at Facebook (Why, oh why do I do this?!) when I saw a post from Jen Hatmaker. She was listing out the changes this past decade brought her. The ages of her kids- their life stages, the fact that 10 years ago, she was publishing book # 8, had never written a blog, and “only” had 2000 friends on Facebook, etc.
What a difference this decade had made.
I was adoring every word. Every single one. Girl has been through some stuff. It’s no wonder I love and respect her so much. She’s drudged through it. She’s become the woman I love and aspire to be like right, in the middle of the thick of it all. I was thinking to myself: “Yes! Thank you for not quitting! Thank you for getting back up and keeping it going! Thank you for asking the hard questions. Thank you for doing the hard things. Thank you for finding your community of friends to talk with you. I’m so glad you have spent the last 10 years blazing this beautiful trail! You are my hero!”
Then suddenly my harshest inner judge whispered in my ear: “You’re so far behind.”
“You haven’t grappled with half of the difficulty she has. You’re not as wise. You’re not as strong. Who are you to lead women and teach them anything? You trust her because you know she’s done the time. Did you know she’s your age? Exactly. You’re 10 years behind. You’ll never be able to serve the way she does because you don’t have time to gather all those experiences. It’s just too late. Go ahead and quit. No one needs what you’re doing anyway. It’s why it’s so hard. . . because you’re trying to do something no one even cares about.” In less than 10 seconds flat, that harsh judge in my head had instantly and ruthlessly, derailed me from cheering on my sister, and torn me down to my knees. As I looked up in the mirror, I was tempted to believe her.
But you know what happened next?
A friend’s voice suddenly entered my mind. It was Mindi. She’d just texted me hours before to tell me how grateful she was that this year brought HeartStories into her life and how excited she is to join us as a member for all of 2020. She said I’d been a role model for her this year. (yes, me, imperfect, failing, getting up, trying again, me.) That girl in the mirror had somehow been a role model to Mindi. She was making a difference . . .
And in that moment, I chose to believe her.
I looked up again, through my streaming tears and now extra foamy cheeks and whispered: “You’re doing the best you can. It’s not too late for you. Your journey is right on time.”
Comparison is THE thief of joy.
I wasn’t even there to compare. I was just innocently there, washing my face. In fact, I was there to cheer that mama on! Jen was saying things that needed to be said. But how easily my inner critic snuck right into my tired mind to turn the tables. She raked my heart right over the hot coals of judgment and threatened my hope, in one fail swoop.
And I know I’m not the only one.
It’s not okay that your inner critic can so easily derail you even when you’re just minding your own business. This time of year can be especially hard because, with kids out of school, and days off of work, we’re often isolated from our closest friends. The ones who so easily kindle our joy. The ones who remind us of the truth about who we really are.
So I’m here to remind you today:
It’s not too late.
You’re not running behind.
No matter what anyone else’s journey looks like, 2020 is right on time for you.
to more love,
P.S. As of today, it’s also not too late for you to join us as we set our intentions for 2020 on 1/9 with one simple word, at “One Word GNO ~ an intention-setting workshop to reveal your guiding word for the year”. Come, be surrounded by women who are committed to replacing that negative noise clamoring for their attention with the kind of JOY, truth, and love that shows up in the context of authentic friendships. Click here to get registered today.