Shauna Niequist truly is my patron saint or long lost big sister or something to that effect. I’ve read all of her books several times and find myself flipping through them, over and over, to soak up more wisdom and encouragement frequently. It’s like everything she writes, I am screaming YES YES YES out loud because her words hit so close to home and really resonate with me. I also like to think we would be besties IRL, but that’s for another blog post.
I recently started reading her latest book, Present Over Perfect, and one part of the What the Lake Teaches chapter made me stop and pause. I read it again and re-read and re-read and re-read. I showed it to Eric, telling him, “this is me! This is exactly what I need to remember every day!” and he agreed (and told me to print out these words). I read it to my mom, who said something similar; that I need to keep reminding myself of these truths over and over.
This was a powerful reminder to me – an extrovert, a die-hard people pleaser, an affirmation seeker – that I need to stop craving approval and acceptance from external sources and lean into what I know to be true about myself, what God thinks about me, and who I am without all of those compliments and affirmations and heavy expectations.
Here’s the excerpt. Hope you get as much out of it as I do and I highly recommend her new book! <3
But this is what I’ve learned the hard way: what people think about you means nothing in comparison to what you believe about yourself. Essentially, my identity depended on outwards approval, which changes on a dime. So you dance and you please and you placate and you prove. You become a three-ring circus and in each ring, you’re an entirely different performing animal, anything anyone wants you to be.
The crucial journey, then, for me, has been from dependence on external expectations, down into my own self, deeper still into God’s view of me, his love for me that doesn’t change, that will not change, that defines and grounds everything.
I bet it all on busyness, achievement, being known as responsible, and escaping when those things didn’t work. What I see now is that what I really wanted was love, grace, peace, connection.
When you decide, finally, to stop running on the fuel of anxiety, desire to prove, fear, shame, deep inadequacy – when you decide to walk away from that fuel for a while, there’s nothing but confusion and silence. You’re on the side of the road, empty tank, no idea what will propel you forward. It’s disorienting, freeing, terrifying. For a while, you just sit, contentedly, and contentment is the most foreign concept you know. But you learn it, shocking as it is, day by day, hour by hour. You sit in your own skin, being just your own plain self. And it’s okay. And it’s changing everything.
After a while, though, you learn you weren’t made only for contentment; that’s only half the puzzle. The other part is meaning, calling, love. And this is a new conversation, almost like speaking a second language – faltering, tongue-twisting, exhilarating.