Hello, Mini-Women. I LOVE being here for a visit! Thank you, Leslie, Hannah and Asher for having me. It’s sort of like coming home, you know?
The reason for that? Because this is a place where everyone can simply be who she is without feeling afraid that someone’s going to say, “You are so weird,” or “Did God miss blessing you with the cool stick?” Here you can just do you.
Even here, though, it’s sometimes hard to know exactly who we are. So hard that I wrote a whole book on that topic, called Everybody Tells Me To Be Myself But I Don’t Know Who I Am. (Possibly the longest title ever) We can all get there, but it’s a process, a journey. It takes as much time for us to discover who God made us to be as it does for us to physically become who we’ll be as adults. Just looking at the pictures I’ve shared here of me growing up proves that, right?
The difference is that our bodies sort of grow by themselves. We don’t have to focus on how long our legs are going to get or what shape our noses are going to take (although I spent my middle school years wishing I COULD do something about my schnozz!) When it comes to our inner selves, however, it seems like the choices never end. Should I be more outgoing? Should I figure out when to shut up? Should I be more creative? Should I try to act like I’m smart and maybe I’ll fool people? Should I laugh more? Laugh less? Laugh louder? Laugh without snorting?
I’m still on that journey of discovering exactly who God made me to be, I think because it continues as long as we’re on earth. But I have learned this about the process: the word “SHOULD” needs to be erased from our vocabulary when it comes to being authentic. Perhaps if I take you through my tween journey to myself I can show you what that looks like.
I was about nine years old when I started to think about who I was.
Up until then I was pretty much on automatic pilot, but in fourth grade the questions started. SHOULD I be playing outside when what I really wanted to do was read 24/7? I actually had nothing against being outdoors, as long as I could take a book with me. (I always wanted to read on the limb of a tree like Louisa May Alcott did as a kid, but it was really uncomfortable. She must have had bigger trees.) SHOULD I try to beat Douglas Ledbetter in math grades, when what I really wanted to spend time on was the stories I invented in my head? I tried being outdoorsy and becoming a whiz at fractions, but it made me seriously anxious. I think that’s when I started biting my fingernails. What if I hadn’t finally decided that I was a reader and a creator of stories, and not an athlete or the next Einstein? I probably wouldn’t be writing this post for you right now.
When I turned ten, it seemed like friendships got a lot harder.
SHOULD I spend all my time with my BFF (because if I didn’t, she would give me the silent treatment for days) or make friends with a lot of different people (which I was figuring out I was kind of good at.)SHOULD I take up my whole recess time in a tornado of girl drama, or hang out with people who loved to giggle (and snort!) as much as I did? What if I’d chosen to limit myself to one main friend and talked about everybody else behind their backs? I might never have grown out of it – and then I DEFINITELY wouldn’t be writing this post for you. And I sure wouldn’t have written Girl Politics.
By the time I turned twelve, boys had entered the scene – for every other girl in the seventh grade except me.
I was faced with the dilemma: SHOULD I pretend I had a crush on some kid just so I’d have something to talk about at the lunch table, or just have fun with the people –girls AND boys – in my youth group who didn’t care if I was “going out” with someone. (I always wondered where we were going to “go” without cars and money …) SHOULD I beg my mother to let me grow my hair long like everybody else who wanted to look like Cher, or concentrate on the confirmation class where some of the stuff I didn’t understand about God was being explained? What if I’d opted for boyfriends (as if I could have gotten one) and hippie hair instead of discovering that I could actually pray? On my own. Without anybody telling me what I should (there it is again) say. I sure wouldn’t be here suggesting topics for your Talking To God Journal, because I wouldn’t have one myself.
Speaking of that journal, if you want to write in yours, why not talk to God about the SHOULDS you find yourself believing. Are they really you – or are they just what everybody says you SHOULD buy into?
If you want to comment, will you share one of your SHOULDS? I’ll go first. I’ll go first. At this point on my journey to myself, I’ve found myself asking SHOULD I write more books, or retire like most people do at my age? What if I decide I’m done? I’ve pretty much determined that God isn’t saying that yet. SO here I am with you … and loving it. Thank you for letting me be part of YOUR journey.