I took a deep breath, mustered up the strength that I could, and stepped up, once again, to the pedestal in front of me. I looked down at the plaque pasted on the front and read it to myself as I had so many times before:
The girl who has it figured out;
The one who has it all together
Almost simultaneously I heard echoes of all the voices of the people who had spoken over me so many times in my life, “you’re a good kid,” “you’re a good Christian,” “your life is perfect,” “you’re always happy,” “nothing phases you.”
I stood there exhausted as I thought about how to measure up to what everyone else THOUGHT I was. I was determined to keep up with what they expected me to be. I figured I could have it all together, I could prove the words spoken over me and I could act like everything was ok.
So I did.
Day after day I tried to live up to the image others saw of me, and as I did, I took on the characteristics of that pedestal: strong, solid, polished, and…alone. I grew more distant from my true self with every passing day. My outer appearance reflected the praise of everyone who saw or knew me, but inside, my heart screamed and ached for something else. My heart knew the truth: I wasn’t perfect, I didn’t have it all together, I had struggles and bad days, I had fears and insecurities, and I certainly didn’t have it all figured out.
I continually chose to follow the pedestal’s lead instead of embracing my true identity, because my heart called for something scary; it called me to step off the pedestal into the unknown, into vulnerability. It called me to step into sharing the truth of my fears and doubts, to show my weaknesses and to let others into them, but that made me anxious. I’d done it by myself for so long, coaching myself through life’s problems, so the fears of what ‘could be’ guarded me from grabbing ahold of the courage I needed to step down: I could lose friendships if I opened up, people could think I’m crazy for feeling what I do, I could be judged, I could be the topic of gossip, I could be a burden to someone, and I could be the only one.
Thankfully there were people who came into my life that saw what was truly behind the pedestal and how I was extremely guarded from trying to hide my true self. They encouraged me to step down and be who I was, even when it was messy and broken. They told me it was ok not to have it all together, that no one did, and that the pedestal even made me unapproachable. I finally listened to them and chose to slowly step into vulnerability. As I continued to, I found that although it feels risky, the outcome is like nothing else. Vulnerability allows for healing, it deepens friendships, it gives encouragement, it gives freedom to recognize and speak truth, and it allows us to give one another strength and courage to face the hardships of life. The truth is we were made for companionship; we were made for friendship and for doing life with one another, for encouraging one another, and for bearing each other’s burdens. We were made to share our stories with each other – the good, bad, exciting and scary. We were made to be vulnerable.
So here is my challenge to us as women: let’s look at our lives and courageously step down from the pedestals we are standing on, and step away from the plaques that falsely define us, because we all have them. Let’s stop pursuing and believing the harmful, unrealistic things this world says we have to do or be, and start exploring what our true, life-giving identity is. Let’s start looking for opportunities to share our stories, struggles, hopes, and fears with one another in little and big ways. Imagine what would happen if we chose to come together to help one another step out of the fear of what ‘could be,’ and into the beauty and power of truth that vulnerability brings.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Let’s be vulnerable. Because we’re not supposed to be perfect.
Thanks for reading!