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The catch-breath. That’s what I call it.

The first time I remember it happening is when they placed my daughter in my arms for the first time. It was a physical pause caused by emotional intensity inside me. It literally took my breath for a nanosecond. Maybe it’s exactly what the romantics are referring to when they describe moments that take one’s breath away, but I don’t remember feeling this phenomenon before her. Now I experience it multiple times per week, sometimes just upon thinking about her. My admiration for her and all I want for her bring my emotions so close to the surface that I have a physical reaction to them. It’s usually a catch-breath.

One day not that long ago, we went to a park for her to play, and as she strode toward the chaos of other kids playing, it happened. My breath was robbed from me, and I had to pause to consider why it had happened then and there. I realized I was concerned for her, but not that she might fall or hurt herself. I was feeling protective of her heart. As a mom and an over-thinker, I had already played out hypothetical scenarios in my mind where my daughter would get upset, show her intensity, and scare people away. I let fear win. As embarrassing as it is, my very next thought was the realization that I was projecting my own insecurity onto her. How disgusting.

You see my daughter and I are very similar. Strong willed. Very clear on what we want and don’t mind letting you know. We don’t always “roll with the punches”. Flexibility is not our strong suit. As a child (and let’s be real, even as an adult), I ended up with lots of hurt feelings on the playground (and in friendships). Intensity, stubborn-ness (made-up word), and bossy-pants (but this word’s legit) are not traits most kinder have grace for. At her age, I had no idea what it was that turned people off to me, and I went ahead and assumed that hurt for her in those moments. It took my breath and broke my heart.

My next thought was even more sobering: I have to teach her to like herself. I will teach her that who she is is OKAY. Not just okay, divinely constructed and intentioned, with eternal plans for good. Then came the gut punch for me: I have to BELIEVE that first for myself. YIKES!  Tearing up as I type, y’all.  Ain’t THAT some truth…

That is the journey I’m on. Self acceptance. Learning GRACE. Believing truth. I consider myself a recovering perfectionist (in the infant stages, obvi) who is bound and determined to learn tae kwon do or whatever it takes to beat my inner critic to a pulp. Or at least learn how to mock her until her points sound as absurd as “being perfect” should.  To be completely honest, at times I don’t even like the word “grace”, because it’s elusive to me as to what it even means.

I accepted a challenge this week given by Annie F. Downs on an Instagram post. She nonchalantly commissioned her listeners to 1. Ask God what He thinks about you 2. Listen to what He says and 3. Believe Him. So I did the first two in the car one day. You know what He said? “I adore you even more than you adore Hayden. You are capable of much good in my Spirit.” (In transparency, this was not an audible voice. I have yet to experience God in that way, but these were the words that came to my mind as I was listening.)

Now I work on the third mandate of the challenge. Believe Him. I have verses to back up what I heard throughout Scripture: I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), there is no flaw in me (Song of Songs 4:7), and He can accomplish more than I can even imagine (Eph. 3:20). That Truth needs to be louder and leaned on harder than the voice of my inner critic. Fear and doubt are from the Enemy. Just like Jesus did when tempted, we battle the lies with the Truth. We find out our true identity in who He says we are.

I challenge you today to do the following:

  1. Ask God what He thinks about you.
  2. Listen to what He says.
  3. Believe Him.