It was a group project with my dad, my husband and me. A wooden sign for the local VFW Easter Egg Hunt, and it was my role to paint the sign and complete the lettering. When I finally put the last brush stroke on, feeling like I had put all the effort I could into the project, I stood back and looked at my work. A lump developed in my throat and my heart dropped just a bit. Three days I spent on this project, each day leaving me drained and exhausted. I hated the final result. It was not my best work.
“Three years ago you would have had this done in one evening and it would have been so much better!” That is what The Inner Critic was screaming.
My husband, of course, could see my disappointment. “It’s good,” he said. “So much better than I could ever do.”
These are the exact words I have said to my dad, my kids, and my husband when they have put all their effort into a project. And when I said it, I meant it. I truly and honestly meant it. Why couldn’t I hear those words and believe them today?
“You should be better than this. You were better before. You need to step it up and be who you were before your treatment, before you were on this medication. You’re letting people down! You need to be who you were when you were strong,” insisted The Inner Critic.
With tears in my eyes I resolved to hide in my room and contemplate my failure. I repeated my husband’s kind, supportive words in my mind… it didn’t help. I tried to hear my Mom’s voice, her gentle encouragement… it wasn’t there. I sent a text to my Dad, receiving a lighthearted response….it didn’t help. Then it came to me. All of these people are there for my support, but only one person was going to truly be able help me accept who I am. Only one person could make me accept that what I do now and how I am going to be in the future is good enough. I had to do this myself, and I would only be able to do it with God’s help. He is the One who can touch my heart, my mind and my soul and bring peace and acceptance. He is the One who can hush that cruel, unforgiving Inner Critic.
Accepting a new “you” is not an easy task. If you have been through an experience that has impacted you mentally or physically, part of moving through it is to accept the impact it has on your life now and moving forward. Something that is much easier said than done.
Accepting, however, doesn’t mean you can’t continue to strive for better. If your event left you weak, it’s okay to work on rebuilding your strength. If your event left you confused, it’s okay to work on clearing your mind. If your event left you frightened, it’s okay to push towards facing your fears. The key is that it is not mandated, there is no timeline and you don’t have to get back to the exact place you were before. Better yourself, but remember that accepting where you are as “okay” is the only way to be able to thrive.
It’s definitely a work in progress for me. I am not going to sit here and pretend “I’ve got this”, because I don’t. But I have hope. I have a way. Through prayer and listening to my family, knowing they love me for who I was, who I am and who I am going to be, I can learn to accept the new “me”.
If you are struggling with self-acceptance, never lose hope. Turn to God, your family and your close friends. Pray that you may truly hear and feel their encouragement and comfort. God doesn’t make you who you are without purpose. He has put you where you are for a reason, though we may not understand the true meaning. Trusting in Him and yourself will make it easier to Thrive Through Faith.