(joyful mysteries note: a few months ago when my friend Erin wrote for joyful mysteries I told her she’d have to guest write again. Her way of weaving words and her absolute complete support of this project has been such a gift. She is real every single day. What’s funny is that today her world with three kids got crazy and she didn’t get this to me until later…and she emailed that she hoped she hasn’t disappointed me. That is how caring she is- when I asked her to write this week ON Wednesday. During the last week of school. So, thank you Erin for sharing your Real again. Thank you for not even thinking twice and just being Real. You as always are a blessing and a gift. You and my sister Erin are two of the strongest most resilient people I know- must be something about your beautiful names…” 

Do you ever worry that no one likes you?


I used to worry about that more than a lot. I was a textbook codependent, a person that needs the approval of others to approve of themselves. I did not know what to think of myself unless someone else told me, I did not know what to feel unless I knew how those around me felt. I could not even make a decision without first considering the level of approval I would receive, and I always landed on the decision that would keep away disapproval from those I cared most about.


It was sad, really.


Looking back, I can say with confidence that the collective efforts contained within the first 32 years of my life were spent to please other people. I did not choose for myself. I did not consider what *I* wanted most, and when I did I made sure that what I wanted was I was told I wanted.


I went pre-med for my dad, “because NO, you don’t want to be a teacher, teachers are one step above car salesmen.”


I got married in a church for my mom, because “YES I would be upset if you got married in the woods, it really should be in a church.”


I stayed married for my sister, after the cheating, lying, and porn addiction started, “because good Christians stay married.”


I binged and purged for my husband, because he wanted a slender wife, and because maybe if I looked better the cheating would stop.


Over and over, for years and years, every decision I made was for someone else. And, because I needed other people to accept me before I could accept myself, I bent. I folded. I crushed myself smaller every day, trying to be someone I wasn’t, trying to keep my mouth shut and just be easier to love.


I tried, and actually I was pretty good at it. 


After years of effort and a lot of trying, I became someone else.


I hated her.


One day, around age 32, I woke up to the darkest, heaviest, ugliest morning of my life. I slid my feet over the edge of the bed, sat up, looked down at my seven month post-partum belly, felt the ache of my insides and throat from the monster binge and purge I punished myself with the night before, looked up at the sky through the window above my bed, and I started to cry.
“This can’t be all there is.”


I stood up and walked to the closet. I picked out a couple oversized shirts, put them both on, and picked up my maternity jeans off the floor. Some women get out of the huge elastic waistband pants within three months after baby – I was pushing toward nine, and I didn’t even care.


As I think back on that day, in my head there was no sunshine. In my head the day was cloudy and dark, like dusk during a thunderstorm. No light. No sun. There were no birds, no hope, and all that existed was an empty, hollow darkness so thick and black, even the crickets had stopped making noise.


“This can’t be all there is.”


I walked over to the baby’s crib just next to my bed and looked down. He was only 9 months old, and from his baby face and tiny fingers there was a glow. HE emitted a glow, and even in the total darkness of my life I found a bit of joy in him. I found joy and light in all of my kids, all three of them. No matter how dark things got they were always there, loving and needing and aching for me in a way that shot sparks of light into my black mind like fireworks in the night sky.


Not even The Nothingness of depression could keep out their light, but in that moment I realized “this is the only light I see.”


“This can’t be all there is.”


As it turns out, that wasn’t all there was. There was so much more, but I couldn’t get to it until I stopped attempting to please other people, and started to live through the heart God gave me.


No more codependence. Not for me. From here on out, I live for the heart God gave me. I live for myself, for my calling, and according to the rules God gave me personally. I trust that others have their own set of directions, separate from mine, and I trust that if we all follow the path He puts before us, the right people will wander our way at the right time.


Six years have passed since that horrible, pitch-black morning. Six years of crying, hurting, suffering, fighting, breaking, healing, clawing, sweating, and bleeding. Six years have passed, and I look back on my life with a sense of awe. I look back with joy, a sense of power, and an understanding I never thought I would ever have.


I still struggle sometimes, but I’ve learned some things. 


I learned that absolute truth is not about doing what others expect of me or even what I expect of myself, but doing what is best for the truest, Godliest, purest form of who I am, because that is the part of me that was made in His image. When I am true to my heart, I find joy.


I learned that Dr. Seuss was right, “the ones that mind don’t matter, and the ones that matter don’t mind.” I learned that God does not make mistakes, and although pleasing those around us is kind and considerate, it is a disrespect to God and the divine creation we are to turn ourselves into someone else in order to do it. 


I learned that codependence, depression, darkness, self-hate, body dysmorphia, and a broken marriage are not enough EVEN TOGETHER to quench my Greatness, because I am a child of God, and the part of me inside that is Great-and-Christ-like-and-touched-by-God is beyond this carnal realm, not to be contained by trivial matters of flesh and earth.


Most importantly, I learned that I do not have to make sure everyone likes me. I’ve learned that it’s not my job to make sure other people are happy, it’s not my job to make sure everyone else is okay, and it’s not my job to secure the mental, physical, or emotional comfort for any adult other than myself.


As children of God, we walk a fine, tight line. We tread carefully between living as an example for Christ through kindness, love, acceptance, and grace, and living in God’s word, which is (in this day and age) hugely unpopular.


It is not our job to be sure everyone likes us. It is our job to do what God created us to do.


It is our job to live out His word, and to stand our ground behind what He tells us is right. It is our job to honor ourselves and the creation we are, to embrace our idiosyncrasies, to accept our limitations, shortcomings, talents, powers, gifts, pleasures, and sufferings, to be the truest version of ourselves as hard as we can, and to walk boldly into the world without apology, second-guessing, self-doubt, self-hate, or lack of worth.


Because like I said… God does not make mistakes, and He made you.


Just as you are.