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When You Don’t Know What You’re Doing- (Me, too!)

Warning- I’m about to get really honest here.  😉

For the past couple weeks, I’ve noticed myself breaking down.  Like, literally having a breakdown. About a month ago, my friends and I started meeting together as a Bible study group, and we’re currently working through the study “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist.  So good.  The thing is, I’ve read the book… but doing the study and working through some of the questions is a whole other story.

It’s been forcing me to dig in deeper and by doing that, I’ve been unburying some thoughts I’ve had about myself that I didn’t even know were festering. Terrible things have latched on to me over the years, and like an unnoticed leech they’ve been sucking me bone dry.  Thoughts about never being good enough or not measuring up.  Feelings of insecurity and worthlessness.  Memories of being hurt and abused and not being able to tell anybody in fear of retaliation and embarrassment.  Knowledge that I’ve been worshipping an idol of acceptance which has caused me to be a people-pleaser for the past few decades.

And while I could linger on that for quite some time, God’s been showing me that that’s not the end of my story.  Redemption is.  Rescue is.  Refreshing and Renewal is.  Restoration is.

That’s the season I’m in right now.  It’s a season of rest.

Perhaps what I’ve been mistaking as a breakdown is just the beginning of a breakthrough.

I’ve been doing a whole lot of things for all of the wrong reasons.  Truthfully, I enjoy paper-crafting immensely, but lately I’ve been feeling unsettled about it.  As I was digging into why I’m feeling that way, I’ve discovered something- The only reason I’ve put so much emphasis on it is because I feel expected to by now, but by saying yes to taking on all of my memory-keeping projects, I’ve said no to other things that are way more important to me.

Photography is one of them.

That’s where it all began, and that is what I love to do most.  I’m learning that I find greater satisfaction in taking a beautiful photo than I do about making an adorable layout.  I LOVE sharing my pictures and documenting our lives, and if I’m being honest, if I had to pick one thing that I would rather emphasize- it will ALWAYS be in the quality of a photo.  That’s just something that means a lot to me.

And on top of that, I never intended on turning my love of journal-making into a business.  It was a hobby that I loved, but then I was asked by a few people to make books for them, so I happily did it.  Then a few more.  Then I started an Etsy store because, hey, why not?  Then before I knew it, I was in over my head with custom book orders and now I have a full blown website and business license and I’m a vendor for American Crafts and…. HOW?!

I know how.  It’s because of the insecurity I’ve had my whole life that I’ll never be enough, never be noticed or cared about, and also the ridiculously unjustified feeling that I’m not “pulling my weight” if I’m not bringing home a paycheck.  That’s how.  But you know what? Stay-at-home-mommin’ is where I want and need to be, and my sweet husband has reminded me time and time again that his name is the only one on the paycheck but we both earn it.  He’s told me that without me being home with Nadia all of these years and “running logistics” and keeping our lives running smoothly, it would all be a giant mess- there would be much more chaos and Nadia wouldn’t have made the progress she’s made without me spending day in and day out loving on her, leading her, and teaching her.  He’s reminded me that my work is important… but have I ever really believed him?  Have I ever really believed that what I’m doing is good enough?

In a talk given to a group of college students earlier this year, Shauna Niequist said this:

“One of the most useful phrases that you can start to build into your vocabulary is ‘I don’t know.’  This is a season where it’s ok to not know, and guess what?  ALL the seasons are seasons where it’s ok to not know.  There’s this belief that… you should know exactly who you are and what you want to be about, and before you leave [college] you must be absolutely sure about the whole future of your vocational life.  This is crazy-pants!  This is not how any of the rest of life works.  If you go to a dinner party with 40 year old people, you don’t go around the table and be like, ‘What are you going to do exactly right now for the rest of your life? What are you focusing on right now that’s going to be the central thing for all the rest of the years you have on this earth?’  We never talk to each other this way because we’ve learned that you do something meaningful for 5 years, and then you do something else that’s meaningful and different for the next 5 years.  And that the things you love are not always the things you do for money.  And that sometimes you love your job and sometimes you hate it, and sometimes you completely change it.  So if you all could give yourselves permission right now to live in the ‘I don’t know’ of so many things, it’s by admitting the ‘I don’t know’ that you get to the knowing.  Not by faking that you know.”

So today, I’m saying- “I don’t know.”  Because it’s true.  And today I will stop worrying about who on earth is going to care if I don’t have my stuff figured out.  And today I’m going to say that maybe I’ll take a break from sharing my paper crafting projects for a while and focus on my photography because that’s what is currently bringing me immense joy.  And today I’m going to jump in a kiddie pool with Nadia and float on a ridiculous raft and enjoy the cool water on this hot day and thank God that I don’t have to know what’s next in my life and that my worth is not dependent on a paycheck or the approval of others, and that no matter what-  He cares for me.  He notices me.  And He loves me through it all.

Same goes for you.  Throw off whatever is holding you down and swim, friends.  Swim.

XOXO, Marybeth

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