Oh, wow! I’ve done it (again). I’ve rocked the boat with “the family.” For the holidays, I’ve chosen to do what worked for me (i.e., staying at home nursing a lingering cold rather than travel), but I’ve upset everyone else.
When I broached the subject of changing my plans, I got a bunch of what felt like guilting – you’re being selfish, we’re supposed to be FAMILY, everyone will wonder why you’re not here, etc. But for the first time I can remember, only a little of the guilt landed! One of my trusted advisors asked me if it was worth it to be sick, miserable, frustrated, uncomfortable – and ultimately resentful – versus facing other people’s upset over unmet expectations. The answer seemed pretty obvious. I didn’t rush out and cancel my flight, but slept on the decision overnight and chose not to go.
This morning after my morning prayers, a song floated into my mind, like an angel whispering its message…
I’ve Gotta Be Me
Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong
Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me
What else can I be but what I am
I want to live, not merely survive
And I won’t give up this dream
Of life that keeps me alive
I gotta be me, I gotta be me
The dream that I see makes me what I am
That far away prize, a world of success
Is waiting for me if I heed the call
I won’t settle down, won’t settle for less
As long as there’s a chance that I can have it all
I’ll go it alone, that’s how it must be
I can’t be right for somebody else
If I’m not right for me
I gotta be free, I’ve gotta be free
Daring to try, to do it or die
I’ve gotta be me
– WALTER MARKS
I don’t like upsetting people. But, I’m learning that by not taking care of myself, by putting everyone else’s needs before my own, by lying to myself about who I am, what I want and need, I’m doing damage to myself and the life that God’s given me. My tendency to kowtow to other’s wishes has diminished my ability to be strong and live the purpose I believe God has designed for me.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but has given us a spirit of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. 2Timothy 1:7 (Amplified Bible)
Especially in the holiday season, unspoken beliefs about family and tradition and duty result in unmet expectations and upsets. Being aware of the pitfalls (and landmines!) may help you avoid some of them. But, if you do wind up in the middle of a family storm, do try to find a little quiet time and recognize that you are doing your best to be who YOU have been created to be. To love being who you are, you have to learn to be yourself, rather than some warped image of who others think you are or should be.
This year has been particularly challenging for me, which has been an amazing opportunity for growth – some of it very painful. But, honestly, I’m incredibly grateful (especially in retrospect)! I know many of you have also had many challenges. I pray that this holiday season brings you a sense of love and peace.
May you thrive, loving being you, through this season – and far beyond!
May you feel blessed