Years ago, I did an exercise called “laying down Ideal”, where I was asked to lay down the ideal version of myself. It was so powerful I have never forgotten the takeaway lesson that I received from God. I am human and because of it I will mess up, I will fail. That became my mantra for a while until I forgot all about it and came home to a kitchen that seems to have a million dishes in the sink, the counter full of clutter, and bedrooms with clothes slung all over the floor instead of in the hamper that is also in their room…Yes, teens!
What I wanted to see when I got home was an alternate reality. The ideal version of who I think I should be, two responsible young men who put the dishes in the dishwasher, tended to the cat’s needs, and have dinner well on its way.
I still struggle with laying down ideal, the ideal vs. reality, the ideal version of myself and my family vs. the reality. In a perfect world, my kids would be put together all the time, and my house would always be tidy. The reality is that we still struggle every morning—after eight years of practice—to get out the door for work and school. The reality is that, if you came over right now, you’d wonder why the floor looks like it has stains on it that have been sitting there for a few weeks.
Maybe you’re in the same boat, sometimes wishing you had an ideal version of your life—or your kids, marriage, or even yourself. But what if you stopped hoping for the ideal version of your life and simply worked on your reality?
Finding the True you
Are you still with me? Okay, here’s what I want you to do. Close your eyes and imagine all the things you wish you had. Imagine your perfect life. Then, I want you to let it go. Yep, say goodbye to it.
Now I want you to visit your reality—messy dishes and all. I know it’s not as fun as the other version but stay with me.
Look around. What do you see?
A mess? Could the answer be a better routine where everyone does their part, and where you actually ask for help?
Constantly late? Could the answer be better time management and new bedtime routines?
You can make your reality better by doing small things to improve your situation. Are you willing to take steps forward to make your reality one that you are happy with?
How to Start Laying Down Ideal
Setting aside your concept of an ideal life helps you move toward the version of you God created you to be.
What is one small or big step you can take right now to move toward the reality God wants for you? Leave a comment below.
Are you searching for the things that will make you whole? There was a time I was seeking identity and found Jesus. I thought being married—or having kids—would make me whole. But I found out Jesus is the ultimate hole filler. While I was seeking identity, I found Jesus. Maybe you struggle in this area too. I want you to know you are not alone. Join me as you learn to reflect on His truth.
Seeking identity, Finding Jesus
If you knew me back then, you’d think I had it all together. According to society, I had the ideal life:
Two kids? Check.
Business owner? Check.
From the outside, it looked like I had no problems. All the while, I was suffering from what I call long-term memory loss.
I actually didn’t know who I was. My identity was wrapped up in the things I thought I was supposed to do—and who I thought I was supposed to be.
The running narrative that played in my head at that time was doubting my ability in everything: my effectiveness as a wife, parent, friend, and business owner. Further, I felt guilty all the time for not being enough or doing enough.
God stopped me one day. It felt like a lightbulb came on, and everything from that point forward made sense. He started playing a highlight reel where I showed others kindness and generosity, where I was obedient to Him and served others happily.
And you know what took me by surprise?
It was all true!
He brought to mind the times I loved others, served them, and was kind.
In this highlight reel, I was loved beyond measure, from when He formed me to my dying breath.
Reflection: Seeking identity and finding Jesus requires you to reflect on how you see your identity vs. how God sees you.
Your Identity vs. God’s Truth
The loop you choose to play all day can either be hurtful or edifying. If you’re suffering from long-term memory loss like I was, start to listen to your loop and become aware of the things you’re telling yourself. Then start to think about the things God thinks about you. The Bible holds wonderful treasures He’s waiting for us to find and delight in.
Just in case you’re not sure, here are a few things your Father says about you:
You’re a royal priesthood.
You’re His heir.
He calls you wonderfully and fearfully made.
You are the light of the world.
Your Father takes delight in you!
God’s Truth in Action
Let’s have a little fun! Leave a comment below about how God sees you. Simply close your eyes and meditate on His goodness, love, and faithfulness. Let’s call it our “I am statement.” Who are you from God’s perspective? It can be a verse from the Bible or words or phrases that God is laying on your heart or both. There is no wrong answer. Drown out the negative reel that’s been playing and replace it with God’s truth!
Scriptures to help you delight in God’s Word:
“If any of you lack wisdom, ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
“For the Lord takes delight in His people He crowns the humble with victory” (Psalms 149:4).
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
It depicts the story that a Caterpillar ate and ate and ate until he was full. Then, he built a cocoon and stayed in it for days. After a little while, the cocoon burst open, and a beautiful butterfly emerged.
The story doesn’t go into detail on this, but we might know that a butterfly’s job is to pollinate. Through the process of pollination, flowers grow, honey is produced, and insect lifecycles continue.
Let me say it this way…The butterfly has an amazing purpose, and God has a purpose for your life, too!
Your job and my job, with God’s help, is to figure out that purpose so we can emerge from the cocoon into a butterfly, spread our wings, and fly.
As someone who has stumbled and fumbled and gone around the same mountain with God when it comes to purpose, here’s what I know to be true:
God Will Give You Your Purpose
Psalms 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The Lord takes delight in you seeking Him and spending time with Him. When you come to Him, He will plant seeds in your heart. The seeds then sprout, and eventually, you will want to act on those very seeds He planted in you. You might think, at that point, that your purpose was your idea, but when you discern things from God’s perspective, it’s clear it was His desire for your life all along. (Psalms 37:4 Biblehub.com, NIV).
Nothing is Lost from Your Purpose
You might think you are wasting your time by doing things that aren’t propelling you toward your purpose. But, in fact, when you are in a relationship with God, nothing is lost! God is so good that He uses your mistakes, your wrong directions, and your U-turns to propel you toward your purpose. It will seem like you are on a path to nowhere, but in fact, you will discover you’re at a pivotal point. This is when God will tell you to look back and you’ll see how far you’ve come. It’s no different than the caterpillar’s purpose. It looks like there’s nothing going on when he’s in that cocoon, but in fact, the caterpillar is in the process of becoming what he was meant to be all along! God has a purpose for your life as well.
Where is Your Purpose?
In the midst of discovering your purpose, you must come to know that every season brings new challenges. On the journey toward your purpose, you will likely find that you agree with one or more of these statements.
Where are you now? Do one or all of the following statements resonate with you?
Time Warp: Everything revolves around every one or everything else; I have no time for myself.
Squirrel Mentality: You see everything as your purpose, You want to do it all!
Stuck in the Muck: are you stuck, afraid to make a move one way or another?
Moving Forward with God
Being aware of where you are can help propel you toward your future. As God’s creation, you are always becoming, always being transformed in hopes that you will spread your wings and fly. Stay near to Him and He will guide you from the cocoon to take flight, just like the caterpillar.
Inclusion, equity, and diversity is needed in our schools, homes, and community. When done successfully, we teach children how to celebrate their identity.
According to the article “Racial Identity, Academic Identity, and Academic Outcomes for Students of Color,” “Aspects of an academic identity and an academic self-concept are strongly related to and have an effect on the academic performance of students. Awareness of race and the ways in which structural/institutional racism affects students of color is key to helping them achieve their full academic potential.” (Howard, 2010)
With that said, all students (especially students of color) need things related directly to them in order to succeed to their full potential. My aim is to aid you and your child with the tools needed to service their continued success.
Here are five ways you can teach inclusion, equity, and diversity in your school, home, or community:
1. Be Aware of Unconscious Bias
Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.
Examples include the following:
Teachers have preconceived notions about one group of students vs. another.
Teachers saying, “You have good English skills for someone coming from…”
Staff members say, “You live in that part of town? I would never go there,” if the child lives in a part of town that is deemed by society as crime-ridden.
When unconscious biases are made, it makes the person on the receiving end feel alienated. Thus, children are less likely to participate in classroom activities.
2. Be Proactive vs. Reactive
When you see an implicit or unconscious bias occur, you must say something. The more people are allowed to perpetuate unconscious biases in the classroom, the more internal damage a student might experience. Our job is to operate in a proactive mode rather than reacting or putting out fires. The way to lessen the fires within your program is to say something if you see it and teach the staff and children how to lead with inclusion, equity, and diversity.
3. Who are you exposing your children to?
According to Meissner & Brigham, 2001, children as early as three months old can distinguish between their own race faces but not other races. This information shows that, at an early age, children are able to differentiate between caregivers, parents, and family members of the same race. If you are only exposing your children to the same race of people, there may be ramifications that lead to non-exposure. Exposing your children to other races creates trust among other races for your child. Exposing your child to diversity creates a level of comfort among people who look different from what they do. Supporting the need for diversity in childcare settings for staff and children is important for your child even at an early age.
4. Anti-Biased Books
There are many children’s books that promote diversity, inclusion, and equity. Books that show children of color in a positive light. BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) authors have been promoting these messages of the importance of love for everyone’s differences and uniqueness. Books like You Come from Greatness, Hues of You, Callie the Service Dog, and Crowns of Glory are just a few to have in your program.
5. Anti-Biased Curriculum
Let’s get away from our Black History Month consisting of a coloring sheet of Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks. Let’s celebrate Black History outside of the month of February by displaying pictures on the walls of your home or classroom of positive role models, bringing in or visiting cultural community events, and teaching children the truth about history.
In conclusion, inclusion, equity, and diversity in school, home, and community help children become collaborative learners. These practices help educators, parents, and community members strive toward a common goal, one that embodies celebrating every child’s identity.
“Swimmers take your mark”, calls the announcer from the loudspeaker. Beeeeep sounded the buzzer. I dove into the water and glided effortlessly until I took my first stroke. Coming up for air in a fluid motion of succinct breathing, arm strokes, and kicks. I kept a steady pace down the lane, then curled up into a human ball, summer salting underwater known to swimmers as a flip turn and powerfully pushing through at the end of the wall. Then gracefully gliding once again. The art of swimming this heat would be 19 more laps until its completion.
Lap 17, no one on my left, no one on my right. Suddenly I hear the crowd roar as I head in to take my last flip-turn. Just then my thoughts creep in. That loud cheer couldn’t be for me. Someone must have just won I thought.
I had more and more time to think. To second guess. For the enemy to settle in with the negative self-talk. To tell me what I had already been playing in my head. I am the only one who looks like me here, I am not good enough to win this race. My body doesn’t look like theirs. I am not a swimmer.
Succumbed to the doubt I began to slow down. The lead that I didn’t know I had was gone. I had lost the race that I later learned I was actually winning. That loud roar… was for me, they were cheering me on neck and neck down the last lap. Only I couldn’t see it.
Instead of going faster when the crowd cheered I self-sabotaged, I stopped trying altogether.
Have you had moments where you begin to shrink or hold yourself back, too?
It was a sport that I absolutely loved and yet I had convinced myself otherwise.
The Bible tells us in Romans 8:1 that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So why do we continue to condemn ourselves?
If you haven’t started already let God show you who you are through His eyes. You are not your failures or condemned. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says, God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.
I want you to acknowledge your shrinking stories, the ones you tell yourself when you are all alone with your thoughts.
If you are harboring those stories and letting them guide you as your truth, you are going to remain stuck. Instead, ask God to speak His word into your life, ask Him to reveal His truth of you.
When you do this, you will go through a change and transformation that God has been calling you to. Then, you will be able to move forward with a renewed identity in Christ.