If He's Your Husband, You Will Not Mess It Up

A few years ago, I was on the phone with my sister telling her about a guy I was dating. I told her I really liked him, but I was worried I was going to mess it up. She replied: You won't mess it upAnd I said, I know, I know. But he's just so nice and smart and I'm worried I'm going to do something to mess it up. So she said it again, a little more firmly, that I couldn't mess it up. And I probably said something along the lines of the fact that she'd never actually been on a date with me, so how could she really even know that?

And she replied: I know you won't mess it up, because if he's your husband, you can't mess it up. No matter what. There is no "messing it up" if you're meant to get married. 

As someone who has an advanced degree in worrying and 20+ years of practice using control to pretend-manage anxiety, this was brand new information. I made her repeat it again. 

If he is supposed to be your husband, he will be your husband. You cannot mess this up. 

I've found that sometimes, as women, we think we can out-perform heartache. Maybe if I say the right things and look pretty and am super funny and don't ask for too much, we can be happily ever after. 

This doesn't work. This leads to a relationship full of performing. A habit of becoming smaller to diminish our own needs. A life of becoming buttoned up and perfect so we are perceived as less needy. It leads to quiet instead vibrant. 

It leads to trying to squeeze ourselves into these little boxes that can be stacked on a shelf, instead of floating free in the ocean, feeling the big splashes and salt in our hair and sun on our faces. 

If you're anything like me, and you think that sending a perfectly crafted text or being that "super cool chick" that is go with the flow and doesn't need date nights, will make your relationship last forever: I get it. I have been there.

But, I assure you, downplaying who you are and what you need will not add years, days, hours or even minutes to your relationship. It will not lead to connection and love. It will not feed your relationship or your soul. 

We owe it to ourselves - and to one another as women - to be the fullest, most vibrant, honest and abundant versions of ourselves. We owe it to ourselves not to pretend or perform. We owe it to ourselves to believe that we are enough, with all of our needs, passions and desires. 

If it is meant to be, it will be. I promise you. You cannot mess it up. 

finding freedom from the hustle

Before I quit my job, my therapist told me I'd have my highest highs and lowest lows once I left corporate America. I smiled politely at her and nodded, all the while thinking: no way. I'm going to do a jig the whole way home and never, ever stop! How could I have my lowest lows when I was so sure of what I was doing? How could there be the lowest lows when I'm working on my dream, my passion? When I am not going to long meetings and answering 470,000 emails a day?

She was right about the highs. There have been some really high moments during the last month. I laugh and smile way more than I did before. I am less stressed and more patient. I'm sleeping like a baby. I am so excited about what I'm working on it kind of makes me want to explode. I feel more playful. More generous. More myself. I feel awake and alive. 

But she was right about the lows, too. 

I've read a lot about numbing agents - the way we use externals to self soothe. Some people use booze. Some use sex. Some use food. I am ashamed to admit it but, deep down, I thought I was one step ahead. I used to numb with exercise and controlling my food but I've got it together now! I would tell myself. 

I've learned during the last few weeks that I still numb, it just looks different. I numb with to do lists and tasking. With busying. With hustling. With noise. And texts. And Instagram likes. I numb with affirmation and a constant checking of things off. 

During the last month I've had plenty to do, but it looks different. First of all, in order to cast a vision for a new project, you must slow down. You can't constantly be checking and going if you haven't fully decided where you're going. You have to go slow now to go fast later, as they say in corporate America. And, second of all, when the day is done, even if I have accomplished a whole lot, I am not reporting out to anyone. I did all my work? Great! But no one will notice if I didn't.

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Once I stripped away all the replies from my amazingly encouraging boss telling me great job and wow you work quickly, I realized how much I was relying on them. Once I took away the chaos and busy and found myself in silence, I realized how deafening it sounded. How lonely it could feel. How much those to do lists and affirmations were filling me up. 

When we strip everything away that gives us worth, we learn what we really believe about ourselves. When we take away the accomplishments, credentials and compliments, what do we still have? When we take away our looks, our fit bodies, our money, our titles, what is left? 

When we earn our worth through externals, those things can be taken away. But, when we believe our worth comes from the Lord and our identity in Him, it can never be shaken. When we find our identity in being a daughter, a sister, a loving, living soul, it cannot be taken. When we believe we are enough, simply because we exist, we cannot be told otherwise. It's scary and quiet and loud all at once to sit in the stillness, to strip ourselves down. But, I'm learning that's where freedom is. That's where we break free from the hustle.

I get anxious, too

This morning I woke up with a tightness in my chest.

I had blocked off the entire day to write, but felt overcome with anxiety and the urge to control. My mind raced with things I could (should!) be doing: organize the pantry, run errands, reply to outstanding emails, figure out a way to streamline my DropBox, Google photos and external hard drive, wash our sheets, eat only vegetables, do a hard workout, figure out some of the big decisions hanging over Chris and my heads...

My mind raced with tasks and rules I could be using to earn my keep today. 

I was overcome with anxiety about the way we're living in between a lot of seasons. After such a fun, playful weekend, I felt overwhelmed by the urge to eat healthily and exercise hard. I struggled to find the voice inside my own head that can speak back to anxiety. 

I felt like I was playing whack-a-mole as I quickly tried to write down task after task, convincing myself that a long enough list would help me button up this day, this season, this life. 

I tried to find stillness as I sat in our front room, reminding myself: I am enough. I do enough. I have enough time. I will get it all done. And my worth is not contingent upon accomplishing these tasks. 

I reminded myself that accomplishing tasks and eating healthily do not make me more or less worthy. They do not give me more or less control of this life. A checked-off-to-do-list or super hard workout do not dictate my worth or the value of my day.

Every day I am enough, just because I exist. 

Why am I sharing this? Because this morning, as I processed through my own anxiety and enough-ness, I kept thinking: I don't ever want people to think I have it all figured out. Social media and blogs have this way of convincing us that everyone else is so buttoned up and, without even realizing it, we are drawing tiny comparisons to our own lives. 

I want to live an open-hand life. I want to be honest enough to tell you, in this space and in my real life, that I'm still figuring things out and always will be. Sometimes I don't believe I am enough. Sometimes I still struggle with food rules and perceiving that I am in control with exercise and to do lists. Sometimes I an anxious about the unknown

I don't have a foolproof solution for these mornings. Oftentimes quiet time works. Sometimes writing does. Every now and then I'm so overcome by the urge that I give in and spend the morning chasing my own worth like a dog chasing its tail.

It would be easy to sit here and write these posts and pretend I don't struggle with the things I am discussing. It would be easy to act like that was a 25-year-old-Whitney thing. Sometimes people ask me if I feel pressure to have answers or things figured out when I coach clients. My response is always a resounding no. Because, the truth is, in the end, I think we're all looking for a listening ear and a simple me too. I think we all take the deepest comfort in knowing and believing that we're all in this together. Figuring it out slowly, one day at a time, side by side.