Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Square Peg in a Round Hole- My Messy Beautiful


This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

I come from a small town. I grew up in a family that knew heartache and brokenness, but we had enough and that was enough. Loving one another was simply enough. My small town is in the Bible belt of the Midwest. It's a very conservative place with a lot of lovely conservative people. It's a Jesus loving community with put together families who drive nice cars and have beautiful houses that are usually spic and span. They look amazing even when they are in their workout gear or just out running errands. They dress their kids nicely, and they always seem to have their poop in a group. If they struggle, you would never know it. But even though they seem almost too perfect (which of course no one is), they almost always smile at you when you are walking down the street or when they are in line next to you at the grocery store. If you are facing hardship, they gather in drones to be at your beckon call. They really are some great people.

But I'm very different from them. I'm not put at all. I'm broken and dysfunctional and needy and a mess. And sometimes I feel like being different is frowned upon in this place. I think everyone might feel that a little in a small town, but I think it's even harder when you don't come from "a name" or worse yet, when your "name" has already been marked with a big black X. It's hard to bounce back when you've made poor choices in the past. It's even harder when you don't fit into the mold when you get older. And while there are so so many lovely people in my hometown that I treasure. People who have built me up and believed in me and made sure I knew I had value, the naysayers always have a louder voice. I'm different. I believe different things. I've made poor choices, but those things don't define me. In fact, many of them have changed me for the better. Here are just a few things that make me different from the societal norm. (or at least how I see the societal norm. Isn't it funny how different our perspectives can be?)

I got pregnant in high school. The only kid in my high school at the time who had a baby. It was scary. It was life changing. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. And I am forever changed because of it.

My house is 50 shades of chaos on any given day. I hate laundry. I hate dishes. I hate cleaning period. I only do it because I don't want to live in filth, and I want my kids' friends (or mine) to be able to come over without being embarrassed about the state of my house. Mostly, I enjoy reading magazines or books, watching tv, playing Candy Crush, hiding from my kids, perusing Pinterest, checking Facebook, blogging....honestly anything that will get prevent me from having to do something productive. I'm not always lazy. I promise. I have productive days and unproductive days. But mostly unproductive days.

I'm also not super mom. I cringe when my kids ask me to play Go Fish or make cupcakes. Some nights, I try to rush through bedtime because I know it will be a freaking 30 minute process. I'll get them upstairs, and just when we are about ready to say prayers, one will tell me they need to go to the bathroom or get a drink or brush their teeth or give dad a kiss....the list goes on. I lose my cool...every morning. My patience wears thin too fast. I feel guilty for this because I know that they are only little once. I see other moms who cry when they leave their kids overnight while I'm over here doing the happy dance. And while I know I overcompensate on other days by packing it all in, I know there needs to be more consistency. More days when I'm present and happy and fun.

I love me time. And social time. In fact, I'm pretty sure those fall under the same category that food, shelter, water and clothes do in the "needs" department. I'm not saying others don't, but most moms I know spend their time doing good motherly things like cleaning, cooking, carting kids around, being present and home. I go to zumba twice a week. I run a few times a week. I have a girl's night...every week. All before my kids are in bed. I'm pretty sure that that falls under the category of "Not being super mom".

And then there's this one. This one separates me from the others pretty heavily. I love Jesus, but I don't believe everything most people do around here about God and the Bible. A lot of it I do, but I'm totally okay with saying I don't agree with that, or I don't believe that or I'm just not sure. Here people are pretty grounded. They know what they believe in, and they are fiercely passionate about it, and let's just say it can be intimidating when it's you versus what seems like the world. One very controversial topic is homosexuality. While this isn't the only thing that I believe in that is against the grain, it's probably something I'm the most passionate about. My gay friends are some of the most amazing people I know. In fact, I don't think being gay is a sin, BUT I understand if you do as long as you treat them with respect and don't let that define who they are. I also don't belong to a political party. I am more liberal than conservative. And both of those things make me the most different out of everything else that I've told you. It makes me the black sheep if you will. I've lost family and friends because of my differing beliefs, and to be completely honest, it just sucks. I think those are the hardest words I've had to write. I like to pretend it doesn't bother me, and faking it til I make it has helped tremendously, but it has made me a bitter person to a certain extent, and it's taken away my faith in humanity a little.

I'm learning that being a square peg in a round hole isn't always easy. Speaking my beliefs doesn't make me popular, and being different is sometimes burdensome. But the weight I carry around having lost people that were important to me isn't nearly as great of a burden as it would be if I carried around the burden of being someone who isn't true to herself. Shameless truth telling is what Glennon calls it. Do I wish more people in my little area would stop defining me based on my beliefs and look at the whole picture? Yes. Do I wish more people anywhere would not equate different as being bad? Of course. Would I love for people to sit down with me over coffee and ask me about why I believe what I do instead of sharing with each other how wrong I am? Absolutely! But I can't choose that. I tell my third graders. "Worry about you. That's all you can do." I can't change people's minds about me or the world, but I don't have to fit into a mold either. And I won't.

I'm putting this out there because I'm not ashamed of it. I'm okay with being different, but sometimes, I'm not always so sure about that. I figure if we're all coming together to be truthtellers, than maybe I won't be alone. Maybe some of you are different. Sometimes the greatest thing women can do is remind each other we're not alone. We can do hard things.

I'm not a saint. I gossip. I'm bitter. I hold grudges. I'm lazy sometimes (saying sometimes makes me feel better). I'm not always a great friend. I interrupt.I'm indecisive. I can be self involved. I'm not a perfect 10. I'm addicted to food (and candy crush). I sometimes take my husband for granted. I spend money foolishly. I like alcohol. I'm a procrastinator.

I also love fiercely. I'm loyal. I want everyone to win. I try to include everyone. I'm affectionate. I'm a truth teller. I'm dependable. I'm a good shoulder. I'm compassionate. I'm a leader and a follower. I'm kind. I'm sometimes brave. I'm resilient. I'm a mom, a wife, a friend, a teacher, a daughter, a sister.

I'm Messy. I'm Brutiful. I'm a great many things.


  1. Wow....just wow. I never realized how much we have in common. I think what is really interesting is that from my point of view you are nearly perfect. It's interesting how our own self perception can be so different than what people see from the outside. I too grew up here and I too have a complicated background and lots of things that I wish I was perfect at, but it just isn't true. I think one of the things that really struck me was the fact that you lean towards the liberal side of things and support gay rights. These are things that I have really felt strongly about and I also feel outnumbered most days. Some of the people closest to me don't understand how I can believe the things I do and at times can be completely insensitive about it. Not only do I applaud all of your "brutal truths" in this entry, but I especially thank you for showing me that I'm not alone in so many of these things. I think many of us feel this way, just not everyone is willing to be so honest!

  2. Thank you Mollie! You always have such encouraging words for me. It's nice to know I'm not alone!

  3. Love you courage and message! Thank you! Justine