Happy Friday, dear friends!
I want to tell you a story. Some of you may have read it on my Insta or FB feeds last week, but I wanted to expand on it a bit here because, well, I have a bit more to say on the subject.
I started noticing how my friend Tina was wearing *the* cutest workout pants. Sassy, colorful, dare I say . . . brazen. But, of course, I am the girl who wears black workout pants. No one with my (ahem) biscuits, as we call them in our family, should draw any attention to such regions. But every time I saw Tina in the cute pants, I was at least a little bit longing.
The Soul Bullies start in: “Of course Tina can wear those pants. It doesn’t mean you can. You know that right? Those kinds of pants are not for you. You get that right? You must wear black workout pants or you will scar people.”
And then I saw these pants at Marshalls and I fell in love with them:
And I decided that even I, yes ME, could and would and should wear *these* pants.
So I bought them. And I love them. And, I want you to know: You Are That Girl. You can wear the wild workout pants. Yes, you!!! Turns out, they aren’t just for Tina. Isn’t that great news!
Here’s what I want to add to the story . . .
After I posted the above, Tina posted a comment. She reminded me that when she and I first met, at 6th grade camp when we were 12, I was wearing zebra Guess jeans and my bangs were bigger than any other girl’s bangs in the entire camp. And she thought, are you ready for this, I was that girl. She thought I was the girl who had it figured out with my wild jeans and my overwrought, yet certainly on-trend, hair.
And somehow I had forgotten about all that.
Do you know why I was drawn to these pants in Marshalls? I do. Because they reminded me of me. And when we get close to something that reminds us of who we really are, reminds us of freedom, the Soul Bullies perk up. And they start trying to shut the whole thing down.
Here’s what I’m learning about the Soul Bullies . . .
Like any other bully, their weapon is scare tactics. They don’t really have much else in their arsenal except trying to run us off. Accusations. Condemnation. Empty, hollow, smoke-and-mirrors threats.
How dare you.
How dare you dabble.
How dare you desire.
How dare you try and fail.
How dare you follow an inkling.
How dare you believe in yourself.
How dare you see yourself as a reliable observer in this world.
How dare you speak up.
How dare you clear space for yourself.
How dare you feel entitled to your own soul.
How dare you don a bold lip and a statement necklace.
How dare you say how you really feel.
How dare you assume any of this matters anyway.
WHO. DO. YOU. THINK. YOU. ARE?!?
I was talking with a group of women last Friday and I shared some of this with them, and a woman who was well into her 60s came up to me after my talk and said, “You know, you never get over the Soul Bullies.” And I took that as a battle cry, to be honest. What she was telling me with her words and the look in her eye was that we do not out-grow or out-mature the Soul Bullies. The Soul Bullies are going to follow us around and they are going to keep trying to scare us and silence us and sideline us. And so we must out-wit them. Out-truth them.
We do this by REMEMBERING WHO WE ARE. And who are we?
So many of us have internalized the notion that ultimately and essentially, we are flawed. I reject this belief.
Just to be clear, I believe in sin. I believe that we, as humans, are wounded and imperfect and limited. I believe we mess up and we need help. In fact, I believe we are all in desperate need of God. But I do not believe that we are essentially, at our core, irreparably damaged. I don’t. I think there is something far more essential inside us, something we can’t wreck and the world can’t wreck, something God himself formed in us on the day of creation.
And the most devastating attack of the Soul Bullies is trying to convince you that above all else and below all else you are a F@!%-up. (Sorry, that’s the only way I can say it.)
Every time we believe our destiny is to basically just suck, then we buy into those Soul Bullies. And I’m so OVER IT. For me and for you. When we believe we’re essentially bad and flawed and an F-up, then we will — even subconsciously — fulfill that destiny. And if we believe that we are, somewhere down deep, worthy, loved, whole, then we will fight for more. We will ask God, over and over again, to remind us of his truth. We will begin again when we forget and fail and fall short. We will reach back when he reaches out his hand and throws us a lifeline. We will believe we are destined for more. We will not settle for punishing ourselves or letting ourselves be punished. We will, maybe, stop sabotaging ourselves. We will, perhaps, look into a bit of help and support. We will, even, surrender our attempts at control. Because we are worthy. Because we have within us, God-image. And we believe that matters. And we want to protect that GOLD inside us. We consider it an honor and a gift. And so we protect that treasure within. We ask God to show us how.
We don’t let schoolyard bullies silence our wonder.
All of a sudden we realize bullies don’t have that kind of power. Actually, we hold the power.
Would you do me a giant favor? Would you spend a little time this weekend writing down what those Soul Bullies are whispering in your ear? Would you actually record the awful, venomous accusations as well as the subtle, sabotaging secrets? Write out these sentences. And then look at them. Look them right in the eye. Every one.
Then spend a bit of time talking back to those Soul Bullies. What do you want to tell them? What do you want them to know about you? Is it possible that everything they’re telling you is an attempt to just shut you up and sideline you and sabotage you? Is it possible that they are NOT the voice of God, truth, grace?
If you don’t have anything else to say to them, at least kindly let them know that they will not be in charge today. They can sit quietly in the corner, if they must, but they will not be in charge. They will not have the last word. At least not today.
You and I will never eradicate these Soul Bullies, but I believe we will begin to sniff out and recognize their tactics. We will become brave enough to talk back to them and courageous enough to take the next step in life because we know they are, actually, wrong about us.
And then, finally, let’s commit to nurturing the good in ourselves an each other. The God-given GOLD that is inside you and me. Our gifts, talents, strengths, unique ways of being, style, creativity, passions. Let’s nurture our empathy and compassion and joy and hope and kindness. How deliciously subversive.
I’m so sorry if no one has ever nurtured this God-given GOLD inside you. I’m sorry if no one ever told you that you have “eternity set in your heart” as Ecclesiastes says. I’m sorry if most of the voices in your life have just served as an echo of the Soul Bullies.
I’m here to share a different story with you.
My dear friend Rickelle sent me the following via Insta earlier this week. She found it over at the amazing @junkgypsy feed, and I had to share it with you because it is such a genuinely helpful mantra for today.
Have a beautiful weekend, FREAKING SUPERNOVAS.
I believe in you,