Good But Not Best

How can such contrasting emotions co-exist within the human heart and mind? My heart is full, yet fragmented. I am exhausted though elated. I am overjoyed, but overwhelmed. Who keeps my hands from shaking, psyche from breaking, and heart from fainting? There is One who can transport me from sorrow and suffering into song. The Prince of Peace who leaves His throne to attend to a little girl with big eyes and heavy burdens.

Pardon me as I open a chapter of my life that I have avoided reading until now. I am blessed to be really good friends with many remarkable women, but I am burdened that I can not be everyone’s best friend. Before you begin to think that this is a reprimand, allow me to state that it is not. It is an insight that I learned from a group of 14 year old girls.

“We can all be good friends, but we can’t all be best friends. And that’s okay!”

Good, but not best, sounds good to me! These young ladies embraced truth that will set them free from scrolling news feeds and feeling rejected. They discovered a friendship principle that can permit them to enjoy that which social media has often convoluted. 

If you are guilty of feeling like you were deliberately excluded from someone’s life or an event because of something you saw online, this message is for you. If you have experienced the pure pleasure of a moment fade once you begin to filter it through the eyes of those who weren’t there, this post is for you. The only Being that can be omnipresent is God. He is also the only One who never leaves or forsakes us. 

I love LOVE and I love FRIENDSHIP. One of the things I have grown to enjoy more than anything is watching my friends enjoy their friends. We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. But is it healthy to weep with those who weep about the same thing week after week? 

I have suffered from depression and I understand that it can take time for darkness to lift. I also understand manipulation and sometimes people will cast a spell on you with their emotions so that they can have someone to keep them company in their place of pain. If you find yourself having to choose between being the life of the party in a pure place or on the V.I.P. list to someone’s pity party my advice would be to gracefully decline the V.I.P. invitation and go live your life.

True friends walk in truth, the type of truth that makes us free. Sometimes the very person who makes a huge deal about not being included is also least likely to show up if they were invited in the first place. Sorcery isn’t cute, it is all about control. In such circumstances you often feel as though you can’t win for losing. My 40 year old self, has no interest in winning or losing. I no longer wish to play the game.

Opening this chapter of my life to the world through blogging has caused me to see how I spent so much time attempting to please friends in my first 40 years. If my latter years are to be greater than my former, then the only friend I want to please is the One who gave His life for me, and sticks closer than a brother. 

My first post in my “40 Days Until 40 series” was entitled, “14 Going on 40.” In that post I shared that although I was about to be 40, I still wrestled with the emotions of a 14 year old girl. It doesn’t surprise me that a friendship quote from a group of 14 year old girls has become my new mantra.

“We can all be good friends, but we can’t all be best friends. And that’s okay!”

I will be a good friend to my friends. But I will not and can not be everyone’s best friend, and I am OK with that. My friends would probably tell you different… The truest of the true and realest of the real would say that I am their best and that’s OK, just so long as I understand that my role as a friend is to simply be the best friend I can be. But not to be each one of my friends best friend.

Balance is beautiful. The freedom that comes from strengthening our core is well worth all the work it takes to walk upright. As you examine your friendships entering into this new year, allow me to encourage you to go where you are celebrated, and not where you are tolerated.

Remember, in the same way familiarity breeds contempt, honor begets honor. Give yourself permission to embrace those who honor you so that you will have the strength to endure those who have contempt towards you. Show up in people’s lives in a way that liberates. Don’t allow the insecurities of others to become your own.

Jesus perceived the thoughts of all He encountered. Those who celebrated Him, and the one who betrayed Him. Yet, He loved them all the same. That is how to be a good friend. Giving your best effort, and trusting God to do the rest.

Friends whose lives are hidden in Christ cause you to experience life more abundantly. When we focus on cultivating friendship with Christ He can turn one of our foes into the best of friends. Keep believing in friendship; especially, when it doesn’t feel good. You might even discover that the best type of friend is waiting around the corner. 

“We can all be good friends, but we can’t all be best friends. And that’s okay!”

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The Beauty of Recovery

I have been writing for the last few days, yet none of the things I have written feel right. They are true but not the truth that I wish to share with the world. I believe in creating from a pure place, so until I feel like I am a clean stream for the Father to flow through, I choose to say nothing at all.

Every now and then I walk through something that knocks the wind out of me. I have been trying to catch my breath over the last few days. Recovery is not always pretty, but it certainly serves its purpose. The purpose of recovery is to return to a normal state of mind, place of peace, health, or strength. If I am walking through something, it affects all of the above.

In my efforts to regain control of whatever has been lost, I shut down so that I can reboot, and recuperate on my own. As much as I can preach a friend out of a pit, when I go through tough times I am so pitiful. Being left to my own thoughts is a dangerous place. While recently sulking in my closet floor I received an early morning call from a friend.

Her voice was like sunlight breaking through overcast skies. Like rain after days of drought. I was able to fall apart so that true recovery could begin. Until that moment I was only pretending to be okay. On the inside of me there was a little girl whose heart was shattered. My friend did not fix me, but she listened to my heart. Being heard was an invitation for true healing to begin.  I am not one hundred percent, but I am happy to be on the mend. God often uses ugly circumstances to make us beautiful.

Making Me Beautiful

He’s making me beautiful,

And it does not feel nice.

My life seems chaotic.

Nothing is right.

I am not psychotic,

So I know He is in control.

Although my heart is breaking,

He is making me whole.

At times I get tired,

And He makes me get rest.

He strengthens me mentally,

When I am not at my best.

It does not feel good,

But I will rejoice and be glad.

I will be lovely in the end,

And that’s not so bad.

When we are walking through tough times it is hard to see the beauty of recovery. Is your heart hurting? Are you in need of healing? Do you wish to be heard? If your answer is YES, know that you are not alone. One of the most beautiful things about recovery is that being vulnerable makes you sensitive to those who are hurting around you. Allow your brokenness to become someone else’s beauty. I have noticed that sometimes one of the keys to returning to a normal state of mind is found in looking around, not looking within. Hang in there; life will get better if you just keep living.

A War Within My Wardrobe

Is there a war within your wardrobe?

There is definitely one in mine.

My clothes lack harmony,

Like poetic words that do not rhyme.

My shoes are clanging symbols.

My outfits are sounding gongs.

They insult each other like children,

Who refuse to get along.

How do I create peace?

How should I react?

Do I sort and separate?

Or keep my clothes intact?

The thrift store sounds appealing.

Donations bring me peace.

But once I reach the store,

Will my striving cease?

Or will I find more soldiers,

To enlist within my war?

Mission field or battle field?

Is the question I implore.

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Beauty is borrowed, and someday we have to give it back. My favorite feature is my eyes, and I can’t take credit for them because they are my Daddy’s eyes. Most of my favorite clothes are from my aunt, sister, friend, or local thrift store. When my make up is on point, it is because of a tip that I learned from someone else. Many of my favorite hairstyles have been a reflection of someone elses creativity. When I receive a compliment I am humbled because I really can not take the credit.

Many people who are admired for their beauty have a team of people who style them to create unique looks. I think that we hinder ourselves when we try to do things all by ourselves. What is so beautiful about ballet, orchestras, or football teams? Their collaboration. It is what we marvel at when we cheer or give a round of applause.

Although fashion is about being unique, borrowed beauty has become my favorite. It is a blessing that makes one rich, and adds no sorrow to all parties involved. If someone compliments my necklace and I place it around their neck, it brings me just as much joy as it does them, perhaps even more. If someone gives me an outfit, it may go out of style, but the love I feel from their generosity will increase in value over time.

My friends are all very eclectic. We share very similar taste in clothes. There are times in which I will buy something for me, but deep within I know it is more for my friend. When they compliment it or come to visit I can’t wait to find a creative way to give it to them. Our husbands think it’s funny when we talk about “The Community Skirt.” It fits every shape and style. We have all worn it in different ways, and we mutually get excited when someone else takes a turn.

The only time beauty loses its balance is when I hold on to items when it is time to let go. When something has served its purpose, it is healthy to release it. Perhaps a blazer made you happy, but it no longer brings you joy. It is essential to pay it forward, or you may become guilty of withholding good.

Each time a friend with similar taste comes to visit, I search for something in my closet to give away. It is a system of paying it forward, but it also prepares me to receive. We are blessed to be a blessing. If we hoard what is meant for someone else, we block what is intended for us, and miss out on the beauty found in exchange.

I once invited my friends to collect items that no longer brought them joy. I transformed my living room into a boutique, and we all shopped for free. In the end, we donated four storage bags, and nine pairs of shoes to our local thrift store. It was a wonderful win for us all, and it brings us joy until this day. We often complement one another without noticing an item that was once our own. It makes fashion so much fun, and conquers the war within our wardrobe.

What are some creative ways in which you would combat a war within your wardrobe?

The Secret To My Beauty

Worth More Than Gold

Flawless skin, Fleeky brows, lashes that make a girl say, “Wow!”

Fabulous hair, sparkly jewels and don’t forget the perfect shoes.

Detox diets, work out routines, trendy clothes on the fashion scene.

All the above have little effect, if what is inside is not intact.

Beauty begins deep within; having little to do with make up, hair and skin.

Beauty is becoming what you behold, beauty within is worth more than gold.

The Secret To My Beauty

The secret to my beauty is that my beauty was a secret. I was 28 years old before I realized I was beautiful. When I look at photos of me as a little girl now, I no longer see the odd creature I thought I was then. If perception is reality then both my perception and reality were extremely warped. Beauty can be hidden, tucked away in the attic of the mind. Much like items in attics, sometimes you do not discover beauty until you are looking for something else.

What We Hear And How We See

I once overheard my mom say that I was a funny looking baby. She remarked about my big eyes, big head and truck like nose. That translated into my psyche that I was her ugliest child. She never said those words, but that is what I rehearsed for years in my mind. To be fair to my mom, she was joking with a friend. My mom is the first to point out her own beauty flaws. She was sharing her perspective and her perception affected my self-image. Instead of seeing the photo of a cute baby I saw something more like the image below.

What We See And How We Think

My mom thinks I am beautiful now and if shown a photo of me as a baby would probably admit I was adorable then. However, the way she saw me then aided in the process of my beauty being concealed. Even now as I type this I am challenged by the cuteness of that little monkey. If I had to choose I would probably celebrate its beauty over my own. It has always been easier for me to celebrate the beauty I see in others over celebrating myself. 

Beautiful or Nice?

I grew up with the notion that people who were beautiful were not nice and people who were nice were not beautiful. So I worked on being nice because I already knew beauty was not my strength. I met my husband at the age of 16 and he celebrated every feature that had been previously made fun of. My eyes, head, nose and even my broad forehead. It is perplexing when someone you meet loves something you spent your whole life loathing. It is easy to believe their compliments are insincere. More than him appreciating my outward beauty, to him my kindness and sensitivity did not make me weak.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Past boyfriends seemed to reinforce the negative chatter in my head, “You are too nice, smart, or skinny… Your head, eyes and lips are way too big.” I am sure they never said those things verbatim, but again, that is how I heard it in my mind. They probably simply noticed my features and because I felt so invisible I interpreted them as insults. My husband observed my inward beauty, which was all I thought I had to offer. Having someone celebrate those inward qualities helped me begin to accept myself. Beauty still remained buried like a dusty box on a shelf. I could not see it even though it was hidden in plain sight.

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Beauty Secret Revealed

Fast forward into the future, as a married mom of 3, I embraced a natural look; it was something I always desired and easy to maintain. I did not wear make up or fancy clothes. I had long locs and when asked, “What is it like having a permanent hairstyle?” I would reply, “It is amazing, daily I get to wake up beautiful,” even though I did not really know the meaning being those words. One day I saw a photo of myself and my husband overheard me say, “Wow, she is pretty!” It was then that I realized my beauty was a secret I had hidden from myself. He said, “Babe, that is you. That is the same girl I met in high school.” For years he saw something in me I could not see for myself,  an outward beauty that had always resonated from within.  

Creature or Creation?

I no longer see a creature when I see an old image of myself. I see a glimpse of God’s creation that He carefully fashioned to reveal a facet of Himself. How do you see yourself as a creature or God’s creation?  Are you willing to explore the attic of your thoughts? It has been 12 years now since my beauty exploration began. Daily I discover something new that leaves me intrigued. I am learning to give myself permission to be a girl and just have fun. Over the next few days I plan to share insights I have observed along the way. I would love for you to join me as my journey to 40 continues.

Reflection

What shaped your self-image as a child? How old were you when you discovered your beauty? Has beauty become more challenging or easy as you age?