It happened last Mother’s Day. My daughter handed me the sweet gift she had made and was so anxious for me to open. I gently pulled out the artwork she painted at school especially for me. Of course I gushed with thanks and gratitude because she was so excited to see my face as I opened it. But instead of the words “beautiful, unique, and extraordinary” that she had chosen and painted with care, I felt doubt and disbelief that they were really true. Did she really see those things in me? I even asked her if she really believed those about me. She said, “Of course I do!” and proceeded to give a couple examples of why they speak truth in my life.
Why is it so hard to believe the best about ourselves? Why is it sometimes difficult to see what my daughter sees in me? At what point in life did we start believing the lies that the world throws our way? That we aren’t good enough, do enough, or have enough worth? Somewhere along the way doubt slips in and we have a hard time daily claiming the greatness that lies in each of us.
Life is full, beautiful and messy. I love those in my life the best I can each day, but some days are just plain hard. And even on the days when I think, “Man I crushed it today. Way to go!” I still see the one thing I didn’t do well, the way I snapped at my child for disobeying me again, or the harsh tone of voice I didn’t mean to have. I cannot let go that we forgot to put something in the backpack, that the library books were late again, and the list goes on. I am my own worst critic.
Another interesting thing about that painting from my daughter is there were words she didn’t choose for me. She didn’t write down “fun, adventurous, life of the party, craft queen, artist, or energetic.” These are the qualities I wish I had sometimes, and when I see other moms with them, I have the tendency to compare.
My words of truth for me, and for you are “You are uniquely you.” You have so much to offer. Focus on your gifts and how you can live those out in your family, your neighborhood, your workplace, your world. As my friend Dana says, and paints beautifully on her signs, “Be You, Not Them.” There is much freedom and wisdom in those words.
Perhaps you’re not like me. Maybe you have the ability to see the best and speak truth to yourself that you’re doing a good job, even on the hard days; But I’m pretty convinced that we are all too hard on ourselves and we need to give some more grace and speak truth more often to ourselves.
Maybe your child isn’t old enough to paint you a picture with some of your greatest strengths, or tell you how much they love you yet, but the look in their eyes when you hold them can tell you. When you comfort their cries and satisfy their needs their smile tells you. When your toddler clings to your leg saying “mama” over and over, they are showing you they think you’re the best and can’t possible let you stand in the kitchen alone because you’re so great. Even when your child gets old enough to write you sweet notes or Mother’s Day cards it’s totally awesome, but the praise can be few and far between.
For the in-between times, the days you don’t feel seen or valued, for the days of doubt when you’re not sure that you’re doing it right, give yourself some grace. Focus on the victories of the day. They are there. Speak truth to yourself.
More importantly though, believe these truths; the ones that are not tied to your performance at all.
You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are loved. You are enough. Do you believe these?
Pin up the truth around your house if you need to (Mine is next to the nightstand). Speak the truth over your friends. Let’s chase away doubt together. Go tell your family what you see in their lives, and speak over them what is good, true and praiseworthy. Speak truth and life to yourself, to your kids and to each other. It could change everything.