What If?

by Joanie Butman

Sorry for missing coffee with many of you Sunday morning. Sometimes life has a way of getting in the way of even my best intentions. It wasn’t an exceptionally busy week but still, I was drawing a blank. I couldn’t come up with a topic on which to write. I know, hard to believe, right? You’d think life would give me an endless array of subjects, and it usually does, but apparently God wanted me elsewhere this Saturday.

So where was I? At a workshop called What If?When I arrived, I had no idea what to expect from the day despite working on the logistics of the event over the past few months. Nor did I understand why I arrived with such a heavy heart. The first task the speaker assigned was to answer this question, “Who are you?” Try it. There’s no easy answer. I chose to answer, “I am a child of God.” Sure, I wear lots of hats (wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, writer, etc.), but my identity lies in Christ, not in my performance. In fact, the way I choose to perform any ‘role’ I play is directly related to that answer. Frankly, it’s when I don’t claim that truth first and foremost that I get into trouble, and my ‘performance’ suffers as a result.

The speaker then asked us to call out our answers. Many of them revolved around the different roles and/or responsibilities the audience held. She followed with this question.“Did anyone write down I am amazing, fabulous, beautiful, wonderful, exceptional or extraordinary?” My first thought was, “If I could answer like that, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here.” THAT was my What If? THAT was why I was sitting here on the first beautiful day of spring. So the next obvious question was, “What if I thought I was amazing, fabulous or extraordinary? What would that look like?” To me, for reasons I can’t explain, it would look like conceit. Bingo! No wonder I’ve been stuck listening to the same self-deprecating remarks play over and over again in my head. I don’t know where I picked it up, but somewhere along the line, I learned that feeling good about yourself was not a good thing.

I know I’m not supposed to covet, but this is an area where I’m definitely jealous of people who fully embrace their fabulousness, even if I don’t necessarily agree with their assessment of themselves. I’d rather FEEL fabulous regardless of whether or not I actually am at that moment than BE fabulous and feel anything but.

It’s true that women tend to be their own worst critics, but I’d taken it to a toxic level. The women at my table were gentle and loving, assuring me that the refrain I was listening to in my head was definitely not how they viewed me. I wasn’t fishing for compliments; this unworthiness ran too deep for that. Only the healing power of God’s love could penetrate the darkness that had settled in my soul. So now what?

I needed to revisit my answer, which was instinctive and honest, and carry it one step further. As a child of God, aren’t we all beautifully and wonderfully made? Yes, a thousand times yes!!! He tells us so. What we do may not always be amazing or fabulous, but that doesn’t negate who (or whose) we are. As I let this sink in, that darkness began to dissipate as my spirit began to lift.

At some point in the day, the moderator mentioned a phenomenon where people actually undergo a physical transformation when they let go of emotional baggage, that some even claim that their clothes feel a little loose. I can’t say I felt a size smaller and the spanx I was wearing were starting to make me short of breath, but there was certainly a bounce to my step and a lightness of being as I pressed the stop button on the chorus of negativity I’d been listening to for so long. I know my body hasn’t changed, but my perception of myself certainly has.

The most important takeaway from Saturday was that positivity is a conscious choice.  DUH??? How could I write about choosing wisely while making the decidedly unwise choice of letting negative thoughts distort my self-image, crippling me in the process? Based on my inability to write anything last week, I couldn’t.

The event was billed as a workshop for the soul, though it wasn’t spiritual in nature. I suppose you could choose to make it anything you want, but for me a workshop for the soul has to begin and end with God. Both the leaders are professional life coaches who work with clients in a professional/business capacity as well as individuals on a personal and/or spiritual level. They shared that they don’t work with people to make them more successful, they work with them to help them learn their own value.

Did I leave with an action plan? Nothing earth shattering, but it doesn’t always have to be. The presenters assured us we are all just one defining decision away from change. If I didn’t like what I was hearing, I needed to choose to change the station as quickly as I do when I hear the lyrics to some of my son’s music. Furthermore, in an effort to embrace a more positive self-image, I choose to start each day with “Good morning princess!” After all, if my identity is in Christ, then I’m the daughter of a King and by definition that makes me a princess. Now, what did I do with my tiara?