I’ve never fit too well into any one mould. I’m a walking jumble of contradictions. I’m intelligent, but also spacey and forgetful. I love people and new experiences, but I’m also a homebody who craves and cherishes time to myself. I’m a Christ-follower who lives and walks in the light but who has also always been drawn to stories about the dark. I’m very much a Thinker, but I’m also both a Doer and Experiencer.
Those are just a few of the contradictions that often make me feel like I don’t really fit. And it’s not just me–all throughout my upbringing teachers, parents and authority figures did their level best to trim off my weird angles and force me into whatever mould they thought I should fit into, believing that they were doing me a favor. Eventually, I took over for them, trying my best to shed my contradictory traits and cram myself into a number of different moulds, one after the other. I battered and bruised myself in the process, but I kept trying because I so desperately wanted to fit.
And then, eventually, I figured out that I wasn’t made to fit a certain mould. And do you know what? Neither were you.
None of us were.
God didn’t make us by pouring us into pre-made moulds. He didn’t shape us with a cookie cutter. We’re not products of an assembly line, with personalities and temperaments stamped into us from a template.
We’re custom jobs, each and every one of us. We’re works of artistry and craftsmanship, lovingly designed to a unique set of specifications, created for a specific purpose, hand-crafted down to the most intricate detail.
Some people might look at my jumble of contradictions and call me a mess (maybe even a hot mess). But some people also say that about a Jackson Pollock painting, or a Picasso. God looks at me, at His handiwork, and calls me His masterpiece, perfectly made to fulfill the purpose He has had in mind for me since before any of us even existed.
He says that about you, too.
Stop trying to fit a mould, sweet sister. Just be who you were made to be. Lean into Jesus, and let Him heal all those cuts and bruises that were inflicted from trying to conform to a shape you were never meant to fill.
PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:
We’re in the midst of an interesting season here in the Bauhaushold. It’s not super-hard in comparison with some of the awfulness we’ve been brought through in recent years, but it sure hasn’t been easy-going lately, either (I’ll be sharing in more detail in my next Daydreamer Dispatch, my semi-regular letter to friends of the blog, so if you want to hear it all, be sure you’re signed up to that). It seems like we’ve been under constant attack and pressure from the enemy–nothing majorly serious, but a steady onslaught of stressful stuff to deal with that is enough to keep us feeling discouraged and very, very tired. I’ve been having to fight for enough margin to keep myself centered, and my husband and I are both having to work very hard to stay mindful of reasons we have to be thankful.
To be honest, it’s hard to be an encourager when I’m in a place of needing encouragement. Thankfully, there are plenty of other encouragers out there in the blogosphere, several of whom really ministered to me over the last week or so, and I thought I’d give myself a break from blogging and share their posts instead. Hopefully, their words will minister to you, too.
We’re talking about pitching articles and I admit that I never have. I’ve been writing for four years on the web and never have I really pitched an article, submitted an unsolicited guest post, or sought out a place to feature my words without first being asked, without waiting for an invitation.
I waited for someone to tell me, You’re good enough.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. . . . We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. (Marianne Williamson, as quoted in the post)
Last week was a doozy. My husband had surgery on Thursday, and all week leading up to that was filled with appointments and errands and preparations. Our routines were completely upturned, we both had mild anxiety about the procedure, and as if that wasn’t enough to stress us out, I began the week with a sore throat and had to deal with all of the above while feeling achy, run-down and struggling to breathe.
It felt like everything I’ve been saying here about rest and grace and slowing down went out the window as we lapsed back into survival mode.
The thing that’s hardest about survival mode, or one of the things, anyway, is getting out of it once the crisis has passed. In a lot of ways, I’m still struggling to completely climb my way out of this mode after a long, drawn-out season of hardship and grief. It started nearly eight years ago with the loss of a good job. This was followed fairly shortly by back-to-back miscarriages, and we had just enough time to catch our breath from that before both of my in-laws passed away in rapid succession. Then we managed to go a whole year without anything devastating happening before my website business went belly up and left us in dire straits.
I could probably write dozens of blog posts about all of the ways God provided for us and sustained us during this time, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was stressful, and that kind of chronic stress, drawn out over a period of years, isn’t something you can just turn off once things are better.
And things have been better, for a few years now. Not perfect by any means, but better. Even so, I still struggle with anxiety sometimes. God used this long period of hardship to bring me to a place of surrender, of learning to be completely dependent on Him instead of trying to exert control over my life, but it’s been a long, slow process of learning, healing and yielding, and I’m not completely there yet. I may never be completely there in this life. I’m still at a point when any kind of crisis or stressful situation, even when I know it’s temporary, puts me right back in that place where I’m walking around with my entire body clenched like a fist and my gut constantly churns with a vague sense of dread.
It hasn’t been as bad this time, but it was a struggle. It takes effort to rest in the Lord. It takes mindfulness to hold onto His peace. Rest and peace are there in these stressful, anxious times, but we have to consciously reach for them and fight to hold on. We do this through prayer, through making time to just be in God’s presence, and by keeping our minds steeped in the truth of His word.
It also takes trust and letting go. Letting go of our own efforts to control the situation. Trusting that HE is in control and everything will work out the way it’s supposed to, and that no matter what the outcome, He’ll be with you, strengthening and sustaining you, holding you and carrying you.
One thing this long season of hardship and healing has taught me is that the more I’m able to loosen my grip on life, the more rest and peace I have, and the more He’s able to move and establish His plan for my life, which is so much better than anything I planned. I keep learning to get out of His way.
Still, old habits die hard sometimes, and it can be easy to forget what we’ve learned and lapse back into old patterns. Lord, help us when we do so, making us mindful and reminding us that You are in control and it’s not our job to fix things or hold things together. Our job is to trust you and draw close to you for rest and peace. You are our battle fighter, and You hold all things together. Help us, Father, to get out of your way.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. – Exodus 14:14
Do you struggle to get out of crisis mode? Is there something that’s got you in survival mode right now? Let me know how I can pray for you in the comments.
PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:
A Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance coming October 31st from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.
O month of months, in you I most delight.
No day of birth, nor remembrance day to mark,
Just that Eve of Saints, carved pumpkins set alight,
Costumed kids parading through the dark.
What fun! But not the only reason
October is blessed of all the seasons.
Autumnal sun warming days to perfection,
Chilled nights that coax to deepest slumber.
Cozy mornings breakfasting on pumpkin-spice confections,
With blankets, scarves and sweaters am I happily encumbered.
Reds and russets, orange and yellow hues,
Leaves turning, anticipating natures cues.
With a steaming mug and gladness in my heart
I welcome you, October, to this place.
Thirty-one days until you must depart
To make way for times of thankfulness and grace.
Winter, spring and summer I must bear
Till you make your way around again next year.