She always wanted to raise confident kids. I thought it was sweet, and it made my chest swell to hear her say it... kind of like I mattered enough to her that she desired gifts for me.
Now I have three kids of my own, and I'd like to take my mother's idea and say, "If I could give my kids one gift, it would be to know exactly WHO they are."
I never truly understood who I was growing up. I sought validation from everyone and everything around me. I wanted others to approve of me, even if it meant shoving down my intuition. Relationships were formed on what others had to offer me (validation, praise, approval), not out of pure love.
I watched others from a distance who were amazing at forming relationships. They didn't seem fazed by what the other thought of them, nor did they invest wasted time into wondering if they were "enough" for the relationship. These people also seemed to have a knack for investing in themselves and doing acts of service. They developed their own talents and skills and in turn seemed naturally more aware of others' needs.
It baffled me -I could see what I wanted, but I was at a total loss as to THE HOW of arriving there.
I tried. Oh, how I tried. I tried to form normal relationships with boys that wasn't riddled with trying to get them to like me, trying to be beautiful enough. I tried to form relationships with girls that didn't involve me self-sacrificing the crap out of myself to try and somehow fit in.
I had one friend -one lasting true friend -who always showed me the greatest example of this. I watched her for years wondering how she did it, how she seemed to naturally connect with others no matter their age, race, or physical appearance. How did she do it? What's more, how did she continue a relationship with ME so lovingly? I could be so selfish, so self-interested, so shallow. She never was.
The truth is, I think, that she loved me. I never had to earn anything, it was simply just there. She loves a lot of people, and she's genuine about it all.
It's becoming very clear to me that she's always had more of an understanding about who she is -a daughter of God, a daughter of a King, a literal royal traversing her way through a brief mortal test.
When that fact is understood down deep in my soul, I make different choices. I don't worry about what others' may or may not think... not only do I not care, I don't give it a second thought. I make choices that matter: whether that's holding a sick baby or investing in God-given interests, or acting on a prompting. Life simplifies, and I feel peace.
But that isn't all.
The greatest blessing that's springing from understanding who I truly am is that I see OTHERS for who they truly are as well. The "less than" and "better than" feelings I've battled for a lifetime are beginning to dissipate. The beggar woman on the street is suddenly no longer an object, but a sister with a name... and a hot meal, if I can help it. The celebrities on the screen seem more real, more human, and I find myself feeling equal to them... not in the way society would hold us, but in the way God sees us: children.
Coming to understand this is not a one time "big bang" kind of gift. It's a life long quest riddled with trials, joys, choices, mistakes, learning, and holy communication with my Father.
And if I could give my kids one gift, it would simply be to have them know WHO THEY ARE. And I'm pretty sure confidence would follow suit.
I set two boundaries for myself with this shop:
1) If I ever felt panic or pressure, I will step away from the shop for as long as it takes.
2) I will make and sell what I love, not what I think others will love.
The more I let myself go and really find antiques and colors and ideas that make my heart soar, the better I feel. I'm less stressed when I know I'm doing what I should be doing at this point in my life. Writing, crocheting, digging through antique stores to find treasures! It's really rewarding, and I'm finding more of myself.
You should go and do what makes you tick. Like, now.
One of my Christmas gifts from Danny. And I don't know why, but I feel like I need to tell you I'm wearing a nude undershirt... It looks like skin, but it's not. Swearsies.