Not good enough syndrome

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!”  Psalm 139:13-14

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Do you struggle with self worth?  Do you tell yourself you aren’t good enough?  May be you tell yourself you aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, strong enough, or worthy enough?

Many of us suffer from the “not good enough” syndrome.  In most cases, we don’t see our worth and value but everyone around us does.

Were you ever caught off guard when someone told you that you had a beautiful smile and were beautiful?  May be someone complimented you on a project you completed that you didn’t think was done well?  May be in your weakness, someone saw your strength and endurance prevail and you were awestruck by their comment on how strong you are?

Sadly, we are the hardest on ourselves.  We are often our own worst enemy.  We find it hard to love ourselves, feel deserving of love, and worthy.  Yet our hearts desire love.  We were made for love, made to receive and to give love.  Why is it so difficult to love ourselves?  Why is it difficult to see ourselves as God sees us, “wonderfully made”?

I have suffered greatly with self worth and acceptance.  Growing up, I had low self esteem.  I would rather be hidden, blended into the background, than draw attention to myself.  My family often told me I was pretty.  I never believed them.  I didn’t feel pretty.  I didn’t think I was.  I just thought they told me that because they were my family.  As I became an adult, this low self esteem expanded like a marshmallow in a vacuum chamber.  If you haven’t seen a marshmallow in a vacuum chamber, as you pull vacuum on the chamber, the air bubbles trapped in the marshmallow have a higher pressure than the surrounding chamber and the pressure of the air causes the marshmallow to expand and it gets really big.  This expansion of low self esteem became very evident in my marriage.

In my marriage, my self worth was the size of a tiny seed.  I never felt beautiful, never felt I could do anything right. It wasn’t until after my separation that I began to find myself and my self worth. It was my faith that pointed me in the right direction, the direction to my heart, centered on a God who loves me.

I won’t say that I still don’t go back to the “not good enough” syndrome, because I do. Today, that often hits me when it come to my role as a mother and sometimes even the things I think God is calling me to do. Fear is not good enough’s best friend. Both keep you from being the person God created you to be. Both place you in a cave and fill your mind with lies.

Are you going to let the lies convince you, you aren’t good enough? Are you going to turn off the vacuum chamber and shrink the marshmallow called “not good enough” into a small speck? Are you going to tell yourself, you are “wonderfully made”? And lastly, are you going to thank God for the wonderful work you are?

What walls obstruct your view of God?

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you…. Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you…. Fear not, for I am with you;”. Isaiah 43:1-7

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Who is God for you? How does God see you? Is God a loving, tender and forgiving Father? Or is He a tyrant, task master, and disciplining Father? Do you think God sees you as a beautiful child of His, wonderfully made, faults and all? Or do you think God sees you as a constant screw up, someone He is ashamed to call His?

Our experiences in earthly relationships sometimes dictate who God is to us and how we think God sees us. If you have bad experiences with earthly relationships, it can have a negative impact on your relationship with God. You may build walls that prevent you from growing in a deeper, more intimate, loving relationship with Him. You may have walls of judgement, lack of trust, inability to feel loved, shame, failure and the list goes on. Each of these separates your ability to experience the greatest love of your Heavenly Father.

Walk through this journey with me. Each day, you get up, go to work or may be you stay at home doing daily tasks.  Your day ends, you go home, rest and get up the next day and do everything over again.  Simple, nothing extraordinary or bad happens and life goes on.  One day, you wake up and the day is different, life suddenly becomes complicated and it feels like you are caught in a raging river and are drowning.  You reach up and feel a hand holding on to you.  It is God holding you because He will not allow you to be “swept away”.  As your life spins out of control, this trial you are suffering through feels like you are being consumed by a blazing fire.  Suddenly, you feel an immense feeling of peace, a warmth in your heart you never have felt before.  As you suffer in this heated moment, you are being purified just as the impurities of gold are separated from its surface in extremely hot temperatures.  God is purifying you into the precious gem he formed you to be and you can feel the transformation.

As you are emerging from this fire, He speaks ever so gently to your heart telling you what you mean to Him. He says you have been redeemed. So all the sin and shame you feel, is not the judgement He passes on to you. When you screw up, He wants you to let Him embrace you tightly with His loving forgiveness, not punish you for your wrong doing. When you didn’t hear Him call you, He wants to continue to direct you towards His calling by sending you His voice in another or direct you by means of another way that you can hear Him.

He wants you to know that you are precious in His eyes and He loves you. If you have been in unloving relationships or an unloving family, you may have trouble with accepting and receiving this unconditional love from God.  Over time, you built walls that place limits on God’s love, preventing you from seeing Him as a loving Father or being able to receive His love for lack of loving yourself yet He looks at you and sees a gem within you, behind the walls you have created.

So how do you remove these walls that are invading your view of who God is and how he sees you, so you can experience His unconditional love and mercy, see Him as the loving and forgiving Father? How do you see yourself through His eyes, see how beautiful and precious you are to Him?  Perhaps it starts with uncovering the cause of the wall, loving and forgiving yourself, loving and forgiving others, and looking to God like a little child. Pick up your sledge hammer, His Word and prayer, and destroy these walls.  Open your arms and heart and receive His love, see yourself as He sees you – the most beautiful pearl shining before His eyes.  Let His hands lead you through the waters and through the fire, accepting His forgiveness and knowing He is always there giving you love and mercy.  He is not dictating, judging, and punishing you for who you should be and are not, for what you should do and have not.  He is embracing you for who you are, even in your weakest, most sinful moments.

Spiritual Food

You water the mountains from your chambers; from the fruit of your labor the earth abounds.  You make the grass grow for the cattle and plants for people’s work to bring forth food from the earth, wine to gladden their hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread to sustain the human heart.” Psalm 104:13-15

As I listen to the rain pour outside my window, I think about all that has poured into my life, just as God waters the mountains from His chambers.  Although my spiritual journey began when I was younger, it wasn’t until  several years ago it was truly awakened.  The one thing that fueled my spiritual awakening was the Eucharist, “the bread to sustain the human heart”.

When I was a child, my parents did not take me to church regularly.  I went to various denominations, whatever church invited me and my siblings to go to, we went.  I didn’t know anything about the Eucharist as a child.  I do recall people going up to the alter in a line, including my parents, when we attended a baptism at a Catholic church.  I had no clue what it was but even then I believe I was being drawn to the Eucharist.  Although I did not know what all this was or meant, I felt like something was missing when I went to church.  I later did learn about the Eucharist when I attended RCIA at a local Catholic church but I still did not really know what it truly meant, especially to me in my spiritual journey.

It wasn’t until several years ago that the realization of the Eucharist and it’s impact on my faith journey bore fruit, pouring into my very being an abundance of grace.  When I truly recognized Jesus in the Eucharist, I longed for it.  My desire for the Eucharist was immense.  It became the spiritual food that fed me.  It strengthened my desire to read and understand the Bible.  It helped me to endure the heaviest cross I’ve had to carry.  It made forgiving easier and loving even easier.  I yearned to sit in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  It was there that I recognized the Spirit and could hear Him speak to me.  I took refuge in His presence and adorned all He has sacrificed for me.  I embraced His love for me and learned to love myself and discover my worth in His eyes.  Just as God watered the mountains to bear fruit on the earth and sustain life, He poured out life into my heart and my soul through the ultimate food on earth, His son – present in the Eucharist.

After communion one day, my daughter asked me why so many people cry after they receive communion.  I smiled, I’m often one of those people, and told her that perhaps they are thanking Jesus for His sacrifice for them and the love He gives through the Eucharist.  For me this emotional flood gate is knowing what the Eucharist truly is, not a symbol, but the true presence of Christ, that pours into my heart.  It is knowing that at each Eucharistic celebration He is being sacrificed as I also sacrifice myself by releasing my will into His as He becomes present within me, consuming me.

Are you being consumed by Jesus?  Are you being spiritually fed, sustaining your heart?  Are you embracing Jesus as He pours out to you in the Eucharist?  Is He bearing fruit in your life through the sacrament of the Eucharist?

The Battle Against Fear

What lies have you been told today?  Have you been fed the lies of fear?  Are you trapped in his cage, held captive and breathless by his hold on you?

Are you afraid to step out of your comfort zone and do what you are being called to do?  Are you afraid of what tomorrow may bring, a doctor’s appointment, financial burdens, your children’s safety?

Fear is one of those lies that the enemy plants within you to draw you from the comfort of God’s love.  It is the root of so many other lies.  It is a little seed that produces many little weeds within you and it tries to strangle the seed of love and trust that God has planted within you.  It binds you and sucks the life out of truth so that you believe the lies it tells you.

Don’t get me wrong, some fear is necessary and a gift from God to be able to react to a situation of danger for survival. This is realized fear. If you come upon a poisonous snake on your walk, fear kicks in and tells your body you need to do something to defend yourself. It is crucial that you react to that instinct and do what is necessary to stay out of harms way of the snakes venom.

On the other side of the coin, fear shows up in your life as unrealized fear or imagined fear. This is the lies that the enemy burdens you with. It’s the message that tells you to not speak about your faith in fear of offending someone. It’s the undue stress and worry you put on yourself anticipating bad news from your doctor, predicting a lay off from your job, imagining your child being hurt when you are not there to protect them.

Imagined fear is the opposite of trust in God. It is a reliance on yourself and the world and not God. This is exactly where the enemy wants you to be. It strips you of the freedom and joy that is only found in relying on God’s will.

Fear is a major struggle for me. It is the one thing that binds me in so many areas and prevents me from the freedom of joy and happiness found in trusting God and His will in my life. Many days, I want to place my children in a bubble to ensure they won’t be hurt. I’m always questioning my role as a mother in fear of losing my relationship with my children. I doubt my decisions in my role as a leader and fear I’m not doing what’s best for those I lead and will someday not have financial means to support my children. I am afraid of people who have had control over me and how they may still be able to impact my life. I find myself often questioning things that drop me in the depths of the ocean, out of my comfort zone, where I have to swim or drown. My list goes on and on. At the end of the day, these are all imagined fears. They are in my head, right where the enemy wants them.

When I don’t move out of my comfort zone in fear of the unknown, I may miss an opportunity God has in store for me that will bring great joy in my life. When I am afraid of what others can do to me, I am allowing them to steal my peace as I let them occupy my mind. When I lead and am afraid of not making the right choices for my group, I constrain the opportunities for them and myself. When I question how I’m raising my children, I may choose to do the wrong thing that will affect their growth and relationships with God and others.

I wonder how many opportunities I lost that God was calling me to; or how much time of joy and happiness I lost while I was imprisoned by fear of circumstance that “could be”.

“Fear, he is a liar

He will take your breath

Stop you in your steps

Fear he is a liar

He will rob your rest

Steal your happiness

Cast your fear in the fire

‘Cause fear he is a liar”

Lyrics by Zach Williams “Fear is a Liar”

The lies fear implants constrains us from doing the will of God, from moving forward and making choices that align with God. It places us in a mindful box that sits and recycles imagined scenarios that threaten our emotional or physical sense, making him our God.

When I sense fear is taking control, the weeds are growing to a noxious level, I have to sit in the Word of God and pray. We are on a battle field my dear friends and fear is one of the leaders on the opposing side. Our greatest defense is the weapons God graciously gives us

  • His Word
  • Prayer

Both of these cover you in love and trust, knowing that His will prevails and it is the best outcome for you. Whenever fear begins to take over the garden God planted in you, tend it and remove the weeds with the power of prayer and the Word of God. Place your trust in what He tells you.

Are you ready to defend the truth of God’s love and His will in your life? Are you ready to kick out fear in the beautiful garden within you and rejoice in the freedom of God’s will? Start by praying – God’s will be done.

Jesus I trust in You!

Have Your Dreams Come True?

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Have you had your happily ever after?  Have your childhood dreams come true?

When you enter a Disney Park, you read the words, “where dreams come true” and every fairy tale has a happily ever after. I’ve been to Disney World 4 times and Disney Land once and my dreams have not come true.  At least the dreams I had as a child of finding my prince charming, living in a big house on the top of a hill with horse stables and open green space.  And don’t forget the maids…. Does that mean that my dreams will never come true?

The greatest aspect of childhood is the imagination and dreaming.  Exploring imaginations as children opens a world of adventures and dreams.  As a child you were open, the world had no limits, life seemed simple and you could do anything you imagined.  In an instant, you could climb into a spaceship and fly to the moon, slay a dragon and rescue a village, find yourself in an African safari roaming with lions or being rescued by a handsome prince and living happily ever after in a castle.

Then one day, you grew up and reality set in.  Your imagination dwindled, your dreams faded and your openness became constrained.  Why?  Why did your dreams as a child or even as an adult not come true and fade into the wind? Why was your openness placed in a closet and your imagination disappeared?  Why did you not have your happily ever after?

Although you can imagine and dream what your life would be, but if your dreams are yours and not aligned with God, you won’t have your happily ever after.  You may have a temporary happiness but it won’t be permanent.

One of my favorite saints, St Ignatius of Loyola, discovered this lasting happiness when his imagination aligned with the saints and Jesus.  When he was seriously wounded, the only material available to him was books on the saints and Jesus.  What he realized was that when he would imagine himself fighting for the King of Spain and winning the hearts of the most beautiful ladies, he had a temporary joy.  When he found himself imagining the adventures of the saints and fighting for another King, Jesus, his happiness lasted longer.  This was the birth of his conversion and the spiritual exercises.

As it was with St. Ignatius, when your dreams align with God, they do come true and you do receive your happily ever after.  Your dreams and openness are keys in your life to the doors God has ready for you to open.  In Matthew 19:26, Jesus says that “for God all things are possible.”  Right there, He tells you that your dreams are possible with God.  If your dreams are His will in your life, they will be fulfilled.

Today, my dreams no longer consist of finding prince charming, living in a big house on a hill.  These are the things that the world wants me to dream of having.  My dreams consist of what’s impossible for me alone, but with God is a reality.  It is a dream of love, joy and charity.  My dream is of peace in knowing that God has greater things in store for me, a greater purpose for my life.  It is a dream of listening and receiving the key to the kingdom of Heaven.

What is your dream today?  What does your happily ever after look like?  Does it involve conforming your will, your dreams to that of God’s?  Do you have joy and hope knowing that it aligns with God’s dream for you?

Motherhood – A Unique Gift

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I wanted to honor all mothers on the beautiful gift of motherhood that God reserved just for you.

A delicate flower
Grown from a seed
A design like no other
One would concede

As strong as an army
As gentle as a dove
She inspires and uplifts
With a nurturing love

Patient and trustworthy
Supportive and caring
Clothed with beauty
Vibrant and glaring

A heart like the ocean
Stretching to no end
She embraces her role
Like the touch of the wind

Grown in His garden
A mother is she
To fulfill His desire
Through all eternity

God created mothers with very unique gifts.  He knew that she would be exhausted at times, so he made her stronger and more determined.  He knew that she would be unappreciated at times, so he gave her little embraces of love.  He knew that she would feel that she wasn’t good enough at times, so he gave her little rewards of her hard work.  

Men were created with a physical strength and women were created with the strength of compassion.  I know there are many times that many mothers feel exhausted, underappreciated and that they are failing their children as they try to balance life or experience tough teaching moments.  Some moms stay at home, some are working moms, some are single moms and some are beautiful moms to others.   With each variety, each mom has a role and that role is unique to each child.  It’s unique in the way she loves each child, unique in the way she supports and encourages each child, and unique in the way that she teaches each child discipline and to survive in this world.  Each mom has one thing in common, she was created with compassion and love that connects her heart from that of God to another.  As she recognizes this, she fulfills his role as mother perfectly.

Along my journey as a mother, I have struggled and adjusted wanting to make sure I teach my children to love God and others, be accountable, responsible, trustworthy, respectful and above all the “best version” of who they are.  In doing so, I have tried many techniques, some that were successful with one child and not the other and some that failed miserably.  Above all, 3 things that have never failed:

1.       Praying with them before bed

2.      Reading the Bible with them and/or a devotion centered on a verse

3.      Encouraging and challenging their abilities

There have been frustrating moments where I felt they were not listening or paying attention and what I was doing had no value.  Just when I needed it most, God would send me a message through one of them revealing the impact in their lives.  One of these moments happened on an evening I was exhausted and needed reassurance that I was fulfilling my role as a mother and role model in my children’s lives.  That evening, one of my daughters told me she needed to tell me something.  She said, “Mom, thank you for having us read the Bible.”  She continued to tell me why this made such an impact and then told me, “Mom, you are a good mom.”  My heart was full and I knew God was beside me, letting me know that I’m doing my role to my best, that I am making an impact on these young souls.  I am not going to always get it right, but the things I will get right are the things that will matter the most.

Today as Mother’s Day approaches, know that you were created for this role as a mother and no one else could do it but you.  He knew that your children would need empathy and compassion, so he gave them you.   

 

The Great Ascent

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Imagine, you are walking in a nearby field at the base of a mountain.  You marvel at the height of the mountain.  Each day, you feel invited to draw closer to the mountain.  One day, you begin to walk and realize you are ascending up the mountain.  As you continue the journey, you come across steep rocks in the path and you think to yourself, there is no way I can go any further.  I’ll have to turn back and head back to the field.  As you begin to turn around, you feel something tugging at you but you don’t see anything there.  You pause for a second and then begin to move downward and then you notice someone approaching you.  He is carrying a shepherds staff.  You are a little startled.  You know that you didn’t see anyone a second ago and now here is a person, a shepherd with no sheep in site.  As he draws nearer, you begin to feel something sweep over you, strength and courage.  He stands beside you and looks at the path ahead.  He nods in agreement on how steep the rocks look and he tells you give it a shot that he is right there beside you.  You begin to climb and what seemed impossible, now seems doable.  You are astonished.  Once you have reached the other side of the rocks, you look back and no longer see the shepherd.  You tell yourself, I thought he would be right beside me.  It looks like he left.  Before persisting onward, you notice 3 small rocks that look unusual.  You take the 3 rocks and stack them at the location you have just conquered over the steep rocks.

Then, you continue to pursue the path laid before you.  As you proceed up the mountain, you reach a place that has two paths.  One of the paths looks easy and wider than the other.  The more narrow path appears to be steeper, has very rugged terrain, and gives you a sense that you could fall below with just the wrong footing.  You stop and analyze both paths, thinking of all the consequences that could possible happen on either path.  As you begin to walk towards the path that appears wider and easier, a boulder falls and blocks the path.  You again assess the situation and with fear, you want to turn around and return back to the field.  Just then, you see the shepherd again.  He doesn’t say a word as he stands beside you.  You then begin to journey on the narrow path.  You notice this time he is behind you as your foot slips and dust and rocks fall below.  Your heart is beating very fast with fear of falling.  Suddenly a calmness sweeps over you and you feel strengthened to move forward ascending the mountain.  As the narrow path comes to an end and it opens  up again, you notice the shepherd is no longer behind you and there are 3 small stones before you.  You stack these stones as you did before and press on.

You are beginning to feel hungry and thirsty.  Just then you notice a spring and some wild berries.  You stop to eat and drink from the spring.  You sit a while to rest as you delight in the view along the bank of the spring.  There are vibrant, colorful flowers and greenery that you have never seen before.  It looks like a painting hung in an art gallery.  Just as you are about to get up and restart the journey, the clouds roll in and a storm begins to cover the sky.  No place to run and no place to hide, you wonder what you are going to do as the rain begins to pour.  A storm on a mountain can’t be a good thing.  As the lightening begins to strike, towards the eastern side of the path, you notice the shepherd and what appears to look like a small crevice, like a cave that could provide shelter from the storm.  He signals for you to join him.  You sit in this small space for shelter.  Your clothes are wet and you begin to shiver.  You feel an embrace and realize the shepherd is holding you and you begin to feel warm and comforted.

Once the storm has passed, you look around and the shepherd is gone yet again and you see 3 small stones again and begin to ponder. Each instance you began to feel afraid, resistant, weak, or faced with adversity along this path, you saw this shepherd and found 3 small stones.  Who could this be? And why 3 small stones?

You walk further up the mountain and as you ascend, you can sense a newness, a freshness in the air.  Your shoulders seem lighter, your mind feels clearer and you sense freedom.  You feel there are no longer things binding you to the field, to the world.  You spin around with your hands in the air, taking in this new found freedom, resting in it.

At that moment, you realize that each time you were afraid, you met adversity, weakness, and resistance, the shepherd was guarding you, his sheep.  When you were afraid to go on when you thought you couldn’t take on the task at hand, he helped you and showed you it was possible with his help. When you were faced with 2 directions to discern in life, a difficult path and easy one, he guided your decision and walked with you along the difficult path. When you were hungry and thirsty, he provided your nourishment. When the storms covered your life, he gave you shelter in his arms, comforting you until it blew over. He was guiding you and as you pushed pass each of these instances you stacked remembrance stones to signify the areas in your life where you were faced with challenges and Jesus carried you, guided you, nourished you, comforted you, gave you shelter.  At the top of this mountain you just ascended, you are rejoicing in the freedom that he has given you through your trust in his will in your life as you prepare for eternity in his glory.

Can you feel the freedom? If not, have you let go of your own will and fears and allowed him to carry you, nourish you, and guide you as you ascend to holiness, to sainthood?