A confession: Playing small

I have a confession to make, I have been playing it small. Ever since my son has come along, I have been a slightly lesser version of myself. I have been holding back, uncertain of my capacity and locking away parts of myself and my giftings, less I should fail. I think many people (especially Mums) feel this way, especially when re-entering the workforce or trying something new. We can feel insecure, don’t see what we have to offer and feel conflicted about where our loyalties lie. For me, I have returned to work and joined the creative team at my local church, you know, just two big commitments at once, nothing major haha.

The last seven months have been interesting for me as I have observed myself react to situations and people that I previously would not have struggled with. I have been my own worst enemy, continually undermining myself: Don’t make suggestions, don’t disagree, keep your head down, keep your eyes down, don’t rock the boat, be easy going, stay in the background, keep out of people’s way, don’t be ambitious, don’t have dreams. Be small.

But, I am not small. It’s just taken me a little while (with a few bumps and false starts) to rediscover that fact. I have gifts, talents and skills that should not be hidden. I have something to offer. I was created to shine in my own particular way and I do no-one a service by making myself less to accommodate others. Others don’t shine brighter because I stop shining. It doesn’t work like that; we shine brighter together. I didn’t even realise I was turning down the dimmer switch, but apparently, I was. Good to know. Good to finally recognise. Good to stop.

So looking forward, what does this re-discovery of identity mean for me? Externally, not much. I know the season I am in and I know my capacity and current commitments. I’m aware of my energy levels and honestly, at the moment I like going with the flow and doing my part for another person’s vision. Internally, I feel I am waking up. I am allowing myself to dream a little about what is stirring in my heart. I am curious about the things that I struggle with and wonder what is hiding underneath. If I don’t re-check what my passions are and look for opportunities to develop and learn, I will keep being small. I could easily get stuck in this place, not moving forward. Nothing has to change in this moment, it’s my own heart that’s changing. Instead of unrest, I am at peace on the inside.

I share this with you dear reader, because I feel like someone else needs to hear these words. Have you turned down the ‘dimmer’ in a certain area of your life? Let me challenge you to see where you might be playing small? You were not created to be small; you have something to offer this world in your own special way. Your offering, will look different to mine and woohoo for that. If you too feel you have been stuck, come on sweetheart, let’s take a moment to dream together. It’s time to stop playing small, even if it’s only evident in our hearts.

Love Jess xxoo

An excellent spiral

This morning I had a full-scale mummy guilt spiral. Complete with tearful messages to my best friends and crushing feelings of failure.

We’ve been speaking about excellence in my faith community the past few days, and let me be honest with you, even using the term ‘excellent’ fills me with dread and frustration. It makes me want to roll my eyes and say sarcastic things about the value we put on performance within a church program. Clearly my response shows where I’m at. My past experiences with “calling people to excellence” have involved feelings of striving, comparison, fake smiles and exhaustion. So let’s take my morning spiral and look at it through the lens of excellence, because you know… that sounds like fun.

I got home from a frantic morning of Daycare drop-offs and parent-teacher interviews with a grumpy baby and an overwhelmed heart. Like most parents, I want to give the best I can to my kids, but sometimes, my best doesn’t seem to be cutting it. Sometimes, my best is disappointing to my kids and to me, hence the spiral. Unfortunately, one of my ongoing battles from childhood is a belief that ‘I’m not good enough’. This means, I wish I were more; I wish I could be more, do more and give more. I fear I am not enough.

After my cry and a few rounds of brutal self-criticism, I regrouped and decided that today was a day to go ‘gently gently’. Gently, gently means recognizing the things I’m doing right and acknowledge my limitations. It means lowering my expectations about what I can realistically give and get done today. What I might have been able to do yesterday is different today. My capacity is different. I am doing the best with what I have; and that my friends, is excellence. Today, what I am doing really well is looking after myself. To have battled with an unhealthy personal belief and come up for air is a win in my books.

Allow me to make this suggestion:

When it comes to people’s capacities,

the standard of excellence is different

for everyone in each seasons.

Rest easy, you are actually doing better than you think. We are often quick to disregard the internal struggles and believe the lie that we shouldn’t have spiraled in the first place. I believe that success or excellence is found in the rising.

Inside a church program it will look different on everyone. For some, they will be able to contribute to multiple areas by serving, for others, even making it to a service will have them maxed. The trick is in knowing what type of season you are in and what capacity you have. This won’t come from looking around at others or your church leaders. It comes from being secure in who you are. If I’m secure in my identity and who I am created to be, the thought of personal excellence doesn’t have to be so confronting. So when I hear a message or conversation around this topic, instead of wanting to yell “For goodness sake, don’t ask me to give anything more, just leave me alone”, I can look to the one I call the King of Heaven and check in with Him.

I like to imagine it goes a little something like this. Firstly, picture my hair everywhere, a piece of half-eaten, cold toast in my hand whilst I try to get everyone out the door for school:

Me: God, far out, I don’t feel like I’m excellent at anything at the moment. I am stretched to the max. I just told off my daughter for taking half an hour to put her socks on and the other one is screaming at me from the end of the hallway because I won’t hold her hand when she’s on the toilet. Plus Bubba woke up three times last night and I just wish he would stop making this annoying tired noise. I also can’t get this frickin’ jar of vegemite open. Grrrrrrr. It’s all a bit much. I’m certainly not my best self today.

God: Oh honey. Do you think you are doing your best with what you have got?

Me: Sigh. I sure am. I don’t have much, but I’m trying with what I have. I may throw this bloody vegemite jar in the bin, but I’m trying to do the best I can.

God: Excellent! Of course you are doing your best. I’m so proud of you! You are killing it.

Me: Phew, so I’m not a failure?

God: Nope. I think you’re wonderful.

Me (looks on Instagram): But look at this mum, she’s got more kids and has somehow managed to hand-sow her kids Book Week costumes. She runs a mid-week connect group, makes meals for her neighbours, does welcome lounge on Sundays, goes on actually date-nights with her husband, probably washes all the bed sheets weekly and doesn’t swear. Ever. Oh man, look at the sexy shoes she’s wearing. I don’t measure up.

God: That’s nice, I think you’re wonderful.

Me: Did you see her shoes though God? I would love to be able to walk in those heels.

God: Jess (long piercing stare), are you doing your best?

Me: Yes.

God: Then you are doing so well. Now, put the phone away and get moving, it’s 8:16am.

Me (yelling through the house): Amy! Get your bag we’ve got to leave soon. Where are your shoes? Put your shoes on! Oh my goodness, I forgot to go over your sight words with you last night. Oh well. No, Bella you can’t have something to eat, you just had breakfast. Ok, you can have something when we get back home, but right now we have to go. Shshshshsh Kai, shshshsh, Baby Boy, you’re all right shshshshs…. Dang it, I’ve got baby vomit on my jeans. I’ll just rub it in; no one is looking at me anyway. OK, everyone, we’re leeeeeaviiiiing now!

Me (to God): Excellent?

God: Yep.

😉

Love Jess xxoo