The music washed over me like a wave, and it didn’t matter that it was nine — or was it ten? — years ago. The notes, the swells, the voices were all as fresh as if it was yesterday.
I sang those lines back then, that solo. There’s a book with my name scribbled inside. This is who I was then.
When You Feel Like You’ve Got to Get This Right
After practice I was weepy and nostalgic. I think of that girl, the one I was back then, even though I wasn’t a girl at all, but a full-grown woman.
- A young woman with a world of gifts and with a heavy burden of anxiety she hadn’t yet identified.
- A woman striving to be good in a hard world.
- A woman navigating a difficult course
- A woman who reminded herself constantly how she needed to get this right, she HAD to get this right, she couldn’t screw this up. Not now, not ever.
And then hating herself every time she made a mess of things, every time she’d had enough. Every time she yelled, every time she cried, every time she rested.
The guilt welled up and turned to rage, and because she couldn’t turn the rage outward — except for the times when she did — she turned it in on herself.
Oh, the emotional torment she suffered at her own hand. How she kicked and goaded her own precious spirit, desperately trying to beat it into submission. She never realized what she was doing. She honestly believed more discipline was the answer.
This was me ten years ago. And so when I hear the songs I sang back then, I want to weep.
- For the life I had and didn’t know I had.
- For the woman I was and the burden she bore.
- For the unnecessary punishment I took.
You see, I’ve traveled a long and winding road since then and ended up in places I never imagined I’d go. If you’d told me ten years ago I would be here — I would’ve laughed and said “not me. Not ever.”
Here is exactly where I am.
And now, with the gift of hindsight, I see a girl on the brink. I see the pressure — how it built and built and how she never allowed herself a break. How she felt guilty for even sitting down. How she thought she could build an empire all on her own, and how it was doomed to come crashing down.
Which is — of course — exactly what it did.
So the question today is, what are you building and molding and putting all your trust in? Are you like I was all those years ago, fashioning a life by doing and trying and striving and working?
There’s nothing wrong with hard work and doing your best. Far from it.
But a dream held too tightly, clutched like an old blanket we can’t bear to get rid of — well, it becomes an idol.
I clutched my dream so tightly that I cut off my own air supply. And once I could no longer breathe, I had to let go.
A dream or an idol?
What did I want back then? What was this dream I envisioned?
A perfect life. I wanted to be the perfect wife, mother, Christian. I wanted the perfect home. I wanted the perfect children. I wanted to be the perfect cook, home decorator, musician, teacher. I wanted it all and I wanted it perfect.
And I worked ‘round the clock to make it happen, making myself miserable in the process.
Will you learn from my mistakes? Will you let go of your endless striving to always do good, be good, look good? Will you cease striving and learn to simply be yourself?
I hope you will. Because you’re awesome just the way you are, and the voice inside your head needs to know it and be reminded.
It’s time to let go. Loosen the fingers, let it drop.
Let go of the idols you’ve built, and simply be who you know you are on the inside. Open up that spirit inside you, and let it shine.