Didja all think I was done with my story? Ha! Silly humans. Of course there’s a Part 2… isn’t there always a Part 2? (And if not, there totally should be. Part 2s for everyone! You get a Part 2 and you get a Part 2 and you get a Part 2 and…)
Sorry… I digress.
Okay, so here I was at this women’s conference surrounded by Roses and Blanches and feeling not only out of place, but maybe… just maybe… exasperated? Like, “UGH… all you Roses and Blanches are SO exhausting. I just don’t understand you.” As though that somehow made me superior to them?
In my defense, I’m not normally this judgmental, critical and self-absorbed… but I may be a little PMS-y and pretty much anything sets me off: “You don’t drink coffee?! How do you even SURVIVE?!” (Okay… and a little bit overly dramatic too. Those 3rd graders have started to rub off on me…)
So, with all this time on my hands to lament my predicament of being a Dorothy among a sea full of Blanches and Roses, I decided to go to confession. And what I REALLY wanted to say was something to the effect of, “Okay, so I know I have a horrible case of PMS right now, but these women are driving me crazy… and I’m pretty sure I only would get along with a handful of them because the rest of them are just so….” But I figured the priest wouldn’t appreciate me going off on a tangent and mentioning PMS, so I just summed it up as being “overly critical and judgmental”.
So, his advice to me was to receive whatever it was that the Lord wanted to show me that day at the conference. And admittedly, I was all, “Seriously? That’s it?” for a minute before it evolved into, “Wait… I have to be quiet and listen to what the Lord is telling me instead of sitting there silently judging everyone? UGH…” (In my head, people… I wouldn’t actually say that OUT LOUD. I’d only admit that kind of stuff on a blog where everyone in the world can read it. C’mon…)
So, I went to the next two conferences and tried to listen and receive.
And then a crazy thing happened…
The speaker… started talking… to me… about me.
(Which would only be weird if we didn’t already know that after all the confessions were done, the priests and the speaker got together in a little huddle and were all, “Okay, so this is what we’re hearing and this is what you need to admonish them for…” Because you know, that totally happened.)
Oh, good grief. I’m kidding, people. That didn’t actually happen. What did happen was just as bizarre though.
The speaker started talking about her own insecurities as a woman… how she didn’t “fit in”… she didn’t fit the mold of a put-together, loving, merciful, gracious, mini-Mary. And she was so preoccupied with getting everyone’s approval that she was trying to squeeze into a mold God never wanted or asked her to fit into. And while she was so busy chastising herself for not fitting in, she was actually judging those around her at the same time for being so annoyingly perfect. And basically, she spent the rest of the conference talking about me. (Which was flattering… but honestly, a little awkward. She could have at least asked me first.)
See… what I didn’t realize, was that I had spent most of the day comparing myself to other women… and because I was so desperate for approval in this new setting… that instead of being content with who God made ME to be and asking how He could use ME to bless others, I was simultaneously cutting myself down for not being more like them, AND judging them for not being more like me. So, basically, I spent the entire day being a big, fat jerk. Both to myself and everyone else.
You guys… do you realize how much I needed to hear her story? Do you know how much I needed that message? Do you realize I have spent the last 6 months or so trying to fit into this mold I will never fit into and lamenting the fact that I’m not “good enough” to be a “good Catholic”? (… whatever that means…) I couldn’t understand why I laugh ALL the time (I literally find the dumbest things hilariously funny), why I want to spend my time researching and writing, why I couldn’t relate to others’ rapturous stories of motherhood and sisterhood, why I like to challenge and discuss and question, why I am how I am. I felt like there was something wrong with me. And then to placate myself, I turned those insecurities outward so I was judging anyone who wasn’t like me in the process. It’s been exhausting.
But to finally hear that… it’s okay… that God made me this way for a reason… that He can USE those gifts and personality traits (and He wants to!), that there’s a purpose for how God made me… was so incredibly freeing. I’m okay. You’re okay. We’re all okay to be who God made us to be. And the more we try to squeeze into these molds, and fit into what we think is this ideal of a “good” Christian woman… we’re actually robbing the world of the gifts God put in us for a reason. Stop trying to be what you think you’re “supposed” to be and just be you. There’s not only freedom in being the woman God made you to be… but the world needs more women like you… so you can bless others and further God’s kingdom just by being you.