I Dare You.

Tonight I cooked dinner.  Now, I know this isn’t something special or new, and I shouldn’t receive an award.  I cook all the time, but, if I’m honest, I don’t love the art of cooking.  It’s messy, time consuming, and then, there’s the whole “what am I gonna cook” part.  I really want to be a Martha-Stewart-type Mom, but in reality, I’m not a domestic goddess.

But, tonight, I cooked something that I thought the whole family would love – quesadillas.  It will be great.  Everyone eats quesadillas!!!  And, everyone did.  I was kinda beaming inside because there were very few complaints in the kid department.  My husband told me thank you for dinner and nudged the kids to do the same.  And, my oh-too-honest three-year-old, with more spunk than required, said, “Thank you for dinner Mommy.  It was yuck.  But, it was nice”.

I think she’s already got that southern, back-handed compliment thing down.  She might as well have said, “Thanks for dinner, Mommy.  Bless your heart”.

Harsh isn’t it?  But, in all honesty, I hope she never changes.  Now, I know we have to tame that attitude a little.  And, definitely, teach her appropriateness and timing, but that spunk makes her, her.

In the same way, I hope my son never loses his pure, optimistic and oh, so hopeful heart. He’s a huge football fan and the last few weeks of playoffs have been nothing short of pure joy.  As Georgia Bulldog fans, we just endured a horrible loss in the National Championship.  And, for a boy who answers math questions with the name of the guy who wears the number (9 x 3 = Nick Chubb – “#27”), this was a devastating loss.  He knew every stat, every win/loss record.  His calculations were impressive and somewhat accurate.  The only thing he forgot to factor in is Alabama’s almost suspicious ability to win.  Calm down, Bama fans – it’s all in good fun – kinda.  Anyway, I hope he never loses his passion, optimism and hopeful heart.  I mean, I hope he uses his sports calculations for good and not professional gambling – but you get the drift.

Watching my children be their “true selves” often makes me wonder how close I am to my “true self” – that little girl who was full of life and the spunk that my daughter shares.  In all honesty, I can tell you that at this point in my life, she’s back.  But, there was a time, not too long ago, that she was hidden and somewhat lost for a while.

I spent far too many years of early adulthood conforming into the person that I thought everyone else wanted me to be.  And, the addition of social media didn’t help.  Comparison, compromising and social pressures lead me to a completely miserable existence.  One that can never be maintained.  And, unfortunately I found motherhood to be full of mommy comparison and strong competition.  I found myself looking around knowing I was very different from other moms, but trying so much to fit in.  It’s like middle school with babies.

And, as many of my faithful blog readers know, a few years ago – well, exactly seven years ago this week, my marriage fell apart.  Nothing like the shadow of divorce to jolt you into reality.  Suddenly, I knew that no matter the outcome of my marriage, I had to change.  For the sake of my one-year-old baby boy, things couldn’t stay the same.  He needed his mother, not some pretend version.

He needs the woman who jumps in the living room during football games and dances in the kitchen to old 90’s rap songs.

He needs the mama who’s pretty good at helping with homework and throwing a ball, but not so good at gourmet meals.

Someone to teach controlled sarcasm and aid in practical jokes.

The one who cries during church and sappy movies.

God began to show me that He gave my son, and later my daughter, me for a reason.  And, the battle for me is worth fighting for.

It’s been a long journey.  One that I’ll never stop fighting.  There are always new pressures, new anxieties and, with the never-fading social media, there will always be new ways to compare.  But, I can assure that our Heavenly Father never intended for you to change from the person he made you.

Psalm 139 so beautifully describes our specific and unique creation…

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.  I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking!  Body and soul, I am marvelously made!  I worship in adoration – what a creation! (verses 13-14 – The Message).

Y’all, when is the last time you thought of yourself like this?  A completely unique individual formed in your mother’s womb.  Knit together precisely to be you.  When’s the last time that you looked at yourself from the perspective of a marvelous creation?  And, better yet, when’s the last time you thanked God for you?  Not from an arrogant or proud perspective, but in awe that the God of the universe thought of you.  Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think about myself in this way, I don’t want to be anyone else.

The Psalmist goes on to say in verse 16 that our days are “ordained” or destined “before they came to be”.  I’m sure there may be better interpretations but, to me, this simply means that the God who knit me together in my mother’s womb – all of me – did so for a very specific purpose.

Our personality was intentional.

Our strengths and even our weaknesses – intentional.

Your body, your mind, your spirit – all intentional.

Doesn’t that make you want to be you more than ever before? Doesn’t that make you want to protect and fight for the you you were meant to be?

A couple of years ago I went to the “Dare to Be” event by Natalie Grant and Charlotte Gambill.  At that time, my marriage was well into the healing stages, but there was still an area that I kept hidden.

I felt broken.

There was a part of me that I really believed would always be broken.  Due to some of the circumstances that lead my marriage to near failure, I accepted a little piece of a broken heart and thought it was my fate to carry it.  It didn’t show up too much anyway, just usually in fights with my husband or a bad attitude every now and then – what’s the big deal?

Towards the end of the message, we were encouraged to get out a little piece of paper.  We were supposed to write down one word that described what we “dared to be”.  I seriously thought, “oh good Lord, are you kidding me?”.  I’ve never been a fan of this sort of thing.  But, everyone else was doing it, so I thought I’d play a long.  Y’all I hope you don’t think I’m crazy here, but in my spirit God said, “dare to be whole”.  I literally almost said out loud, “what are you talking about?”.  Then, “You think you’re broken, dare to be whole”.

For me, this meant God was saying, “I dare you to be you, the whole you – the one I created.  I dare you to let go of this broken version and dare to be whole.”

This little piece of paper stayed in my bible until my daughter lost it, but I’ve never forgotten about the day I was dared to be me.

So now, I dare you.

I dare you to be the creation that was knit in your mother’s womb.

I dare you to be the woman, man, wife, husband, mother, father, sister, brother, child, aunt, uncle and person you were created to be.

I dare you to live out the dreams that God placed in your heart and take the steps that were ordained before your birth.

I dare you to live whole, loved, and marvelously made.

I dare you.

~Mary Ann

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