Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 17 ~ Authentication Required

Distance: 3.11 miles
Time: 49:34
Pace: 15'55" per mile
Calories: 397
I have officially moved to the "next level" and, from what I can tell, this means that my Nike + homepage is now a different color. I can't even remember what it was before but it looks different. Needless to say, I'm a little disappointed. I must now log in 123 more miles to move up to the next level. Wonder what color that will be?

As I have been journeying through time, I've come to know myself pretty well. This venture to set myself free is giving me so many insights into why I am the way I am, and more importantly who I don't want to be. Please let me explain that this endeavor is NOT about perfection, it is about freedom. It is for freedom's sake that Christ has set us free...Galatians 5:1. I am not seeking perfection in anyway. I am hopelessly flawed.

We live in a culture that demands perfection. Who can live up to that? Aren't we pressured to have the perfect body, perfect house, drive the perfect car, have perfect children, dress just so? Where has all the authenticity gone? Now, I really don't feel quite so pressured in my community as we are pretty laid back but, even here, in rural America, we feel it too. I have a dear friend trying to sell her home which must be "staged" in order to enhance it's market value and help it sell. I understand the concept behind this but it really got me thinking about our image, my image.

I heard a bible teacher once say, "if in any way we are different from what we seem, we are image builders." It was a profound thought. When we project an image onto the world that is different than what we truly are, we are building an image. If we aren't the same person at church that we were in the car on the way to church...we are image builders. If we aren't the same person in the light of day as we are in the black of night...we're fakes, we're frauds! We are not authentic and, by all accounts, we are in bondage to that image.

Why must we always worry about what others think? I've gotten better at this as time has worn on but, usually, as soon as I think I've got a hold on it and can truly be comfortable in my own skin, God will put the most intimidating person right next to me and I'll feel myself shrink down and start that self-loathing thing. It's hideous.

Transparency has always come natural to me. I can't hide emotion or pretend too well. Try as I may, it comes to the surface and is apparent to everybody around me. How I hate that. Especially when it comes to my husband and children. I can't put on a happy face and pretend nothing is wrong. Oh, I wear the smile and I say the right words, but they know...they always know. But when it comes to authenticity, I've still got some work to do.

Yesterday, I was in Wal-Mart and saw a lovely woman about my age dressed in capris and sandals, cute shirt, pressed and buttoned up just so. I love to people watch, just LOVE it. Living out here in the sticks, I am short on people to watch, so when I do get around a bunch of people it becomes such a gratifying indulgence to take it all in. Most of the time, I can leave Wal-mart feeling pretty good about myself...not that that's the goal. I know I shouldn't compare myself to others at all really, but isn't that just what we do? So, there I was in the produce section, in my overalls, and my worn out flip-flops thinking "I am such a slob!" I was clean and so were my clothes. I did have on make-up and I had straightened my hair. Then I had a revelation.

I LIKE MY OVERALLS! They're comfortable and have oh so many handy pockets. When I wear them to town when Rodney is with me...we match! Why do I care what anybody may think about that? I am not, nor will I ever be, anybody but who God made me. Sometimes I will put on my big ol' rubber boots over my pajama bottoms and head out to feed the goats. This is probably one of my most authentic moments. I like wearing little clips in my hair, not because they serve any purpose, but because they make me feel youthful and fun. I painted my kitchen cabinets fire-engine red, not because it was popular, but because it made me happy. Last night, I wore my pink spring-time night gown over my red flannel pajama bottoms with the snow flakes, and I liked it.

Those "staged" houses worry me. People who are put together perfectly on the outside make me wonder what is going on inside. There is no such thing as "perfection". You know those people who, on the outside, seem to have it all together...they really don't. I've known so many people that I've envied, that I've aspired to be like just to find out that they were drowning in self-doubt and riddled with misfortune.

Now, I also started thinking about this. We can think we are who we are and that is just that. That is also a form of bondage. I've heard my grandmother say (and she'll never read this so I'm not worried about it) "I'm just bossy." Like, that's the way it is and I can't help but be over critical and bossy. Or I've heard people say, "I'm just not a real ambitious person", which gives me every right to sit on my butt and do nothing. Or, and I hate this one, "I'm just not smart" so I don't even have to attempt to learn anything new.

This is what I am currently trying to accomplish...the best version of ME. I've got to change the things that don't work and concentrate on what does. There are so many things to learn, so much to do, so much to change and work on. I vow to try to enjoy the journey and not merely look for the result for I know that this is a process, not a means to an end. It's life. Every day is a new opportunity.

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