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Today I am happy to welcome back my friend Tammy Strait from Grace Uncommon. Tammy is the author of the inspirational book, Pretty: Breaking Free From The Illusions of a Superficial Life. I am so honored to have her share her heart & life experiences on this subject with us–please join me in making her feel right at home!
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I was sitting on a bail of hay on my brother’s farm in northern Michigan. The air was heavy with fog and my thick skin was wearing thin. Truth is, my heart was worn right through. He was feeding the horses while I sat in a heap crying. My young marriage to my high school sweetheart and my rebound relationship with the “love of my life” had both ended. All in the matter of a few disappointing years. What am I going to do? I choked out through tears. I’d flown fast, from the small life to the high life, and this time I crashed hard.
He was quiet. And then he said, you don’t know how to be alone. He was short on words that day, but what he said was true. I’d never been alone. My whole life, my identity was wrapped up in who I was with, and what other’s said about me. I didn’t know who I was.
From the time I was twelve, I went from relationship to relationship trying to find my identity in others. I learned I was pretty good at being anybody! The truly sad part of that statement is I thought that was a good thing. Who I really was? I realized I didn’t have the first idea, and I set out to find it. While I’ll always be a work in progress, here are the 7 secrets I’ve discovered so far.
You’re not doing anyone any favors pretending to be someone you’re not. The greatest gift you will ever give any relationship is yourself. Sometimes we need to get away from what feels normal in order to find what is real. Take some time to be alone. Travel, journal, sit in the silence of your own mind. Amazing discoveries happen when you embrace solitude and encounter yourself.
Do the work
We are only as strong as our greatest weakness, and we’ve all got them. The question is whether we admit them, talk about them, grow through them, and let them change us…or allow them to limit our strength. I’m not willing to let my fear keep me small. This journey is about being bold. As you walk through life you’re going to encounter your weaknesses. You’re going to encounter things you thought you left behind. Deal with them now so you can use them to build your strength.
Boldness demands that we live our lives with intention or we risk missing the point. How intentional are you with your life? I’m a creature of habit. I do the same things over and over and if I don’t make sure those habits are healthy, I’m likely to find myself night after night eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream with crushed candy canes and chocolate Hershey bar! Or sucked into social media, mindless television or the myriad other ways I can numb out of my real life. What we focus on becomes our destiny, both in thought and action.
Embrace your story
Your story is unique and no matter how hard it has been, there’s a gift. Every one of us has a redemption story. We just need to find it. The truth is we can never leave our past behind. It is always going to be with us, threatening to hold us back. But when we make peace with it, accept it for what it was and not what we wanted it to be, then we get to rewrite our story. We get to design how far it will propel us forward to the life we were created to live.
Design your life
You hold the power to design your life. The greatest war we face in this life is the battlefield of our mind. Sometimes what we know in our heads has a hard time making it to our hearts – we just don’t feel it! We mistakenly believe that if we don’t feel it’s true, then it can’t possibly be true. These are the parts of the journey where we just have to do it anyway. The first steps will most definitely be scary! They’re supposed to be. You’re doing something new and brave and hopefully different than you’ve done in the past.
This is not a race. There’s no destination and you will never find a perfect map. Sometimes you’ll find yourself running to get somewhere only to find that it was the wrong way. It’s okay. Because despite all the ways I have fought to prove myself capable, sometimes my greatest lessons came in the quiet moments inside the cavernous walls of impossible where God whispered to the still places of my heart: Wait. Great things will come. Sometimes you just have to wait.
This is hard for me. I’m wired to equate value with production and too often believe that I can’t play until all my work is done. When the house is clean and the laundry is put away and everything else is done – THEN we can have fun. You can imagine this doesn’t leave much room for fun. I recently heard Mark Batterson say: “Don’t write a sermon. Get a life!” It hit me hard because the times I most deeply struggle for words, are the times I’m just trying too hard. Play is not a reward for success, but is essential to success.
When you think about your life and the story you have lived, ask yourself: Is this the story I want to tell? You don’t get to change your past but you do have the power to write your future. And while there’s no map or destination, you already hold everything you need to begin.
It’s been a long journey figuring out who I am and the truth is, I’m still on it. Honestly I don’t know if I would’ve taken this road if I’d been given another option because it was hard. But looking back, I know we were made to do hard things. There’s an anonymous quote I love that says: “Nobody said that it’d be easy, they only promised it would be worth it.” This path is exactly like that. And one of the biggest problems with a path like this is it’s never straight or without pothole or dead-end. It’s not without wrong turns or u-turns or stops in the road. All I know, is it’s ours. And it’s good.
As with all journeys it’s good to have a friend to travel with. I share my story and the lessons I learned along the way in my new book, Pretty: Breaking Free From The Illusions of a Superficial Life, which is now available in print! Order your copy now and get my study guide free as my gift to you!
Tammy is an encourager, contemplator and deeply soulful spirit. She writes candidly on her blog: Grace Uncommon about the common struggles that bond us together as women, and how we can boldly design unhindered lives. She just released her first book, Pretty: Breaking Free From The Illusions of a Superficial Life.