(in fact, you should!)
I talk myself out of a lot of things.
I’m one to start something, and unless I feel SUPER strongly about it, or have to, I normally forget about it, or abandon the idea, or activity.
Half-eaten bags of health foods in my pantry
Households surfaces still covered in what was supposed to be “my new thing”…
I’m good at starting things. Not great at finishing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very reliable. You can count on me when you come to me with something you need. I’m talking about things that are for myself. I have a hard time trusting that anything I start is “good”. It feels uncomfortable doing something “different” than what I’ve always done. It’s risky. I don’t like the feeling of something “not going anywhere” after I start it, so I tend to give up before that has a chance to reallly set it (I’m trying not to let that happen with writing, even though everything has its season. hey, i’m not makin any plans! that’s not goin too well for us here in 2020…).
But whenever I “quit” something, or ditch an idea that I’ve been tossing around in my head, I feel a strange sense of shame. And that’s where it gets weird.
Maybe some of you don’t think like this. We all have different tendencies, and we all need balanced perspectives. But maybe some of you can resonate with this feeling of fearing change mid-process.
Maybe you were once able to enjoy a particular person, activity, food, etc. with a good conscience, and now you’re feeling convicted.
Maybe you had this great vision of how you wanted your wedding to be, or your big project at work, and now, after hours upon hours of work, it’s looking nothing like you planned.
Maybe with your first kid you were all homemade baby food organic cloth diaper no technology, and now you put on mesmerizing Baby Shark while they eat their Happy Meal because you are exhausted.
It’s easy to feel shame in parts of your life not working out how you thought they should, or not meeting the Instagram-worthy standards you set before you started.
As women, I think we need to shake the shame in changing our mind, and drop the fear of appearing “fake”.
From mid high school through grad school, I was super into changing my hair color. I did it myself so I guess it felt like more of my own creation. I liked the routine change.
People close to me told me things like “you change your hair color every other week!”
My sweet Grandma would occassionally gasp when she saw me.
“You changed your hair again!”
“No I didn’t Grandma…”
“…are you sure?”
We had all forgetten what was natural at that point, it’s fine. But that wasn’t what I was trying to get at.
The most revealing part of this was my reaction. I felt oddly a bit ashamed and defensive when people commented on how often my hair changed its hue. They were right. So why did I feel kinda bad about it?
I was a plant-based vegan for almost 2.5 years. Now, when folks ask if I’m still vegan, I reply, “haha no…”. Knowing that they’re probably thinking “how could someone so hardcore about this abandon it?”
Reflecting on these two examples has revealed a few things to me.
I overthink MANY things. Sorry…
I feel a lot of shame when I seem flaky, wishy-washy, on noncommital.
And I have a strong, unhealthy fear of man.
Sister, it’s OK to change your mind.
Imagine if you stuck with the first diet you ever tried
With the first guy you ever dated
The first music genre you ever liked
With the first philosophy you held, dictating the purpose of the rest of your life
ALL BECAUSE you were afraid of how people would perceive change in your life.
To add to the ridiculousness with a personal example, I would surely be unhealthy, unhappy, uninformed, unchanged for the better, and still listening to Now That’s What I Call Music 21. Yikes.
We have this unspoken (or maybe it is, but i never hear about it) expectation that we need to be rock solid until WE tell people “this is what I’m doing, and here are my well-thought-out reasons for making this choice”
Why do we need to sell it to people?
Why does it matter if so-and-so’s sister-in-law Brenda on Facebook thinks you’re being hasty, or controlling, or inappropriate, or ignorant, or whatever else one could come up with?
Must we create an internet poll for our high school friends to tell us “no, you shouldn’t have another baby at your age”, “no, you shouldn’t go back to school while you’re this far in debt”, “yes, you should wait til you’ve dated ___ years before you marry”, or “no, you shouldn’t be so jazzed about your workouts until you’ve reached your weightloss goal”?
Sometimes we can fall into the trap of being more concerned what others think than what our Maker thinks of us.
I experienced some quality teaching put on by my church about a few months ago, which really illuminated this key idea that is so often forgotten about: i d e n t i t y.
Here are some questions to ponder:
Where does your identity lie? In the sum of the opinions of others? In the shame you feel in redirection, whether you make a true 180, or turn just a few degrees? Does your identity lie in your own concrete plans? And when life doesn’t go according to plan, does your identity then crumble?
Or does your identity lie in unchanging Truth? What if we were free to change our minds, redirecting our lives, living in the light of the Word revealed to us in THIS season, BECAUSE our identity never changes.
And this is that identity…
I am a child of God (John 1:12, Ephesians 1:5)
I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)
I am free of condemnation (Romans 8:1-2)
I have been chosen and pointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
Ooh and this one that’s a hard one for me: I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
Among many other powerful statements of identity!
We can’t be transformed by the renewing of our mind if we refuse to challenge those thoughts about what defines us.
And good news! It’s not your work, your hair color, your diet, your habits, your upbringing, your trauma, or your insecurities. We aren’t stuck. And when we know that, we are free to be teachable, to be called, and to go about His work, in whatever corner of the world, in whatever circumstance, in whatever season.
I don’t know what this means for my hair color, or the food I eat, or any of the choices we make down the road that may be wildly different from the people we once were. But I hope the truth of this begins to seep into my soul- that if we are to be conformed to HIS image, we can’t fear appearing indecisive, tentative, or wavering. We are, and always will be. Cling to what isn’t.