You Are Enough

The first day of my training class in Toronto was the most intimidating day of my life.

Here I was in a corporate board room with 7 other professionals in suits when I, a stay-at-home-mommy-turned-career-woman-overnight feeling like a poser in my suit, sat nervously playing with the handle of my purse. It was surreal.

I looked around the room at the other women. They seemed so put-together and professional. And then my trainer came into the room.

All I had known was that her name was Leigh, and that she was very friendly, as per the introduction & welcome email she’d sent me the week before.

Leigh was gorgeous. She had a smile that lit up the room and she was trim, had beautiful hair, great style, and she carried herself with a graceful air that spoke volumes.

And I have to admit, my first reaction was that she wasn’t going to like me.

She shot that down within the first five minutes.

I have never, in my life, met such a beautiful woman who had such a kind heart.

I’m not saying all beautiful women are conceited, I’m saying that’s been my experience with women who look like they belong on a magazine cover. They usually know it and they usually work it to get whatever they want. At least the ones I’ve known.

Not Leigh. Her kindness and her genuine sweet personality were a breath of fresh air and we all became huge fans instantly. She was a brilliant teacher, a wonderful example of poise and professionalism, but she also met us on our level and never once became condescending or unapproachable.

My third or fourth week in Toronto was really hard. I was starting to miss my kids so much I could barely focus. I remember texting my colleague Adam one night around ten as I was sobbing in my hotel room. His reply (as he always shoots straight with me) was: “Breathe. Sleep. I miss my kids too. We’re almost done.”

I was also really struggling with whether or not I could make it in this career. I didn’t know if I believed in myself. The job was hard, and there was so much to learn in five weeks that I began to doubt I could do it when training was over. All the things I had been told over the previous eight years were ringing in my head and I was sitting on a very dangerous fence.

We were doing role playing, and Leigh was acting as a client, and we were going through a meeting and proposal in front of the class, one at a time, and then giving each other feedback on our pitches.

I asked Leigh if we could practice alone in another room first. All the others in the class had business degrees and had worked in sales before. My expertise was in diaper changing and making a mean meat loaf.

So Leigh and I went next door to the adjacent board room and she began to coach me. And I broke down.

I poured out way too much about my personal life, my divorce, the things I was still hearing him say in my mind, and my doubts about whether I would make a good rep. And this beautiful woman, who at first glance I thought would judge me, gave me the most monumental pep talk I’ve had in my entire life.

“YOU ARE ENOUGH.” She pushed my books to the end of the table, made me look her in the eyes, and said to me from her soul, “You can do this. You are beautiful. You are capable. YOU ARE ENOUGH.” I honestly don’t remember the details of the whole conversation, because I was crying my eyes out, but she sat there and chip, chip, chipped away at the shell of fear and doubt that I had built up around me. All of the “you can’t’s” and “you don’t’s” fell silently to the floor, and as I looked into her eyes and saw the sincerity behind her words… I began to think, maybe she’s right.

I dried my eyes and she gave me a hug and spoke some beautiful words of comfort to me, and went back to the class. I gained my composure, and joined in.

Leigh wasn’t easy on us, but she wasn’t unrealistic either. She was giving it to us like a real client would. And one by one, we took our turns roll playing. I was the Paula of the group – I scribbled down notes about all the things I loved that they had said or done and my feedback was purely encouragement. We learned a lot from each other. And then it was my turn.

I was nervous, and my mind went blank. I fidgeted and kept glancing at my paperwork instead of just having the conversation with the client. Leigh’s eyes told me “Just go for it, you can do this!” So I forgot about the 7 pairs of professional, experienced eyes, and gave my first sales pitch. And I was the only one that day who closed.

I know Leigh wasn’t just taking it easy on me. I actually rocked it. And Adam has reminded me of that fact several times since training when I start to freak out about a specific client or my net gain that week or the job in general. “Hey Amber? Who was the only one in the class who closed the deal in role plays?” I started to believe in myself, not because Leigh told me I should. But because I knew Leigh did.

I IM’d with her this morning and gave her a little update on how I was doing. I told her “I’m so much stronger than I ever thought I was,” to which she replied, “I always knew that.”

SO today’s post is twofold.

One: Don’t assume all beautiful women are conceited.

And two: YOU ARE ENOUGH. Whatever you’ve been told – you are beautiful. You are capable. You are worth so much more than you will ever know. And you are enough.

February 6

I wrote this blog post on February 6 and didn’t have the courage to publish it at the time. So here goes.

The future I had planned for burst into flames and blazed for the past year, melting down the life I knew until I was left kicking embers and covering my head with ash. Wandering through the melted, charcoal smeared rubble, I am left wondering what to do next. Rebuild, of course, but what?

For now, I focus on the tasks at hand. Keeping my house clean. Making meals. Snuggling my kids and making sure they get enough of my undivided attention and security. Working my ass off. And starting over again the next day.

This isn’t living. This is surviving. How long will my life consist of making a home and working and sleeping, and spending every other weekend when they’re with their father recovering from the previous two weeks?

I’m not who I was a year ago.

I’m stronger.

And I’m terrified.

Each day that passes, I gain a little more strength, but I also break a little more inside. I bend to the will of my Father, when all I want to do some nights is rush back into the arms of the man who tore me down. I press on; surging, then crawling, aching, then rejoicing, twisting, bending, pushing, until I don’t recognize myself anymore. I am clay, and I surrender myself to the only One who can turn this brokenness into beautiful.

My heart is alive, and I am redeemed. My brokenness still cries out. I still fail to live in the grace that drenches my sweet little life, until He reminds me with a countryside of frost-kissed trees on my way to work, that He makes my heart beat, and not my own will.

I fall for those little lies that are sweetly whispered in my naked ear.

You have low self-esteem. No, I truly don’t. Human nature is to love ourselves more than anything else. I fight it every day.

You are a strong, independant woman. Ha! The battles I’ve fought this year have been waged with a paper sword and a tattered shield. He has been my protector. He has been my strength. He has stretched out His hand of provision and paid my hydro bill and put gas in my car and food in my cupboards. Independant? No, not me. I am nothing without Christ.

And so I grasp, with white knuckles and a soul that desperately yearns for understanding, so tightly to the promises He’s made to me. I will never leave you. Never, for certain. He’s proven it so far. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. All those things he yelled and cursed and beat my heart with, are not true. I am the daughter of the King of kings. I have called you by name, and you are Mine.

I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine… I will cling to that this Valentine’s day when I snuggle my babies and long for a husband to love. No man could ever love and cherish me the way the Father does. And until He sends me the one who will try, I wait patiently by. I get up, and brush my teeth, and smile, and kiss my babies, and try to shine a little brighter. I smile to the strangers and fuel myself with His joy. I wait, and pray, and wait…

Waiting

Another blog post I had on my secret blog, that I’m ready to share… This was from November 11, 2012

 

James 1:2-8 (NIV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Wow.

So I used to do Bible quizzing. Yep, I was a super hyper turbo church girl. And I loved it. I got to travel all over Ontario with my teams and billet with interesting people, competing against other teams for Bible college scholarships.

James was the first book I memorized.

I’ve always loved it, and because I was so gung-ho about quizzing in the beginning, I memorized the entire book beginning to end.

We quizzed out of the New International Version, so all of my memorization is in the NIV. I went to pick up a new Bible on Friday as my dog ate mine (no word of a lie) and so of course I went straight for the NIV section and picked out a cute purple pleather quilted covered NIV.

I sat down this morning to read and my first instinct was to go soak up some James. The words have changed a lot, as they’ve updated it since I was in quizzing (which makes me feel old even though I’m 28) and I found myself a little disappointed.

I don’t like change, unless I’m the one initiating it. If people make even the most minute changes to things and I come back without having known, I feel thrown. This is likely the reason I’m struggling with going back to the church I grew up my whole life in, now that I live here again, because it has changed so much. I feel like it should still be exactly as it was and still is in my mind. Silly, I know. I have issues (don’t we all?) and it’s part of my brokenness. I like the things I love to stay the same or at least change with me. I don’t like going back to something different.

So. Tangent.

I loved this text because, although it wasn’t what I memorized verbatim, it seemed to speak more to me this time. I thought throwing in the “brothers and sisters” instead of “brothers” and changing “he” to “you/them” was unnecessary, and I’ve never been a feminist so I didn’t see the point.

But it spoke a little deeper to me.

The text came alive to me, not as me knowing the words about a man going through some hard times and being double-minded and all that – but I saw myself in it.

I’m going through trials of many kinds. Hokey snot am I ever. I NEED perseverance. I’m developing it a little more every day. Each morning when I get up and get ready and go to work, when all I want to do is stay in bed and cry and wallow in the current state of my broken life – I get a little bit stronger. I gain a little more perseverance.

And my problem has been trying to rush God’s work in my life.

“I’m ready, Lord! Bring on the good stuff now!”

He must roll His eyes and think “Oh, sweetie. You’re so silly.”

Let perseverance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Isn’t that what I’ve been asking for? Maturity? Spiritual and emotional? Completeness after years of brokenness? Fulfillment – nothing lacking? I continue to showcase a sense of entitlement to joy and peace and fulfillment, without actually doing all the leg work. I ask God to gimme gimme gimme… When He’s already given me the recipe for success in Him.

Yes, of course, the joy of the Lord is free in Christ, and it is MINE, and if it were not for it I would be lost. But the extra stuff – the maturity and completeness – that I have to work for.

In my case it’s been dating.

Blech. I hate to even admit it.

I’ve been on several dates since O and I separated. I think I’ve selfishly and at times naively thought that since he’s living with his new girlfriend, and I’m only going out on dates and not having sex, I’m better than he is and more holy.

I feel so old and wise but really, I’m a child.

When I continue to understand that I need to wait on the man God has for me, why do I feel the need to jump the gun and go for it? I became totally content to wait. After my relationship earlier this year with a beautiful man (R), I was afraid of hurting someone else by thinking I was ready and then pulling out when things got serious. So I put my nose to the grind, focused on my kids and my job, and I was getting better. I was finding who I am as a woman, as a mother, and in Christ.

I fall so quickly when I’m not focusing on prayer and meditation first, but just leaping into situations hoping they turn out for the best. You’d think I’d learn by now.

I’m tired of being tossed and thrown on the waves. I am craving peace… so I have to wait for it. When I hear Him whispering in my heart “Wait… Wait darling, I promise…” – I have to listen to that. Or I’m double-minded and can’t expect anything from God. I lived with bipolar for 8 years. The last thing I want is to become double-minded myself.

This fear I have in my heart is surely not from the Lord – the fear that tells me to hurry up and find a good Christian guy before they’re all taken. It’s so ridiculous! If God has someone perfect for me, he certainly won’t be perfect, as I most assuredly am not. He’s likely going through his own trials of many kinds – perhaps even the same struggles I’m facing. But if God is orchestrating it, then he’ll be ready the same time I am. It’s a relief to be able to give it up like that, and trust. How do people without faith do it?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

God, I’m begging You for wisdom. I know I only have to ask You, but here I am on my knees crying out for You to show me Your will in my life. You will not fault me if I come to You in all sincerity, with all kinds of trust and faith in Your perfect will. Please… give me the grace to carry my head high when I feel so alone, and help me to find security in knowing YOU rather than having an arm to hold onto. I don’t want to find my identity in being a wife to a good man – I want to be found in You and ONLY You, and someday have you reward me with a man whose heart matches mine, to serve you as a team together with.

But there I go again. Aching for a husband.

Be the only man I need, Father…