wpid-screenshot_2015-04-11-23-21-33-1.pngAs I sit here in my comfy writing chair, sipping a cup of hot tea, I allow myself to ponder the many gifts that have come my way over the years.

Being married to Mr. Wonderful for thirty years tops the list. Of course he’s only wonderful about 78% of the time…the other 22% of the time, he’s the typical knuckle dragging Neanderthal. But let’s not focus on the negative here, only happy thoughts in this post. Being blessed with, and allowed to mold four beautiful children is the best gift I never knew I needed. They have been my greatest source of joy. Although they do make me want to gnaw off my own leg at times…but again, only happy thoughts here 😉

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. From the Popsicle stick cross dripping with Elmer’s glue and glitter, to a handful of freshly picked wild flowers clutched in a tiny hand. Maybe, a surprise addition to your favorite collection or a pot of delicious chicken soup from a dear friend. A smile, a pat on the back, a hand written thank you note or a heart-felt word of encouragement. The possibilities are endless.

As my state of ponder continues, I am reminded of one particular gift that changed my life forever. It didn’t come wrapped in pretty paper. It wasn’t a gift I could hold, touch or even see. It wasn’t a gift that I particularly wanted or even asked for. As a matter of fact, the person who gave me the gift was totally unaware that what they were about to do would change my life, and how I would live it, from that day forward. Let me explain.

Many years ago my husband and I served as associate pastors in a church full of wonderful people. We were very happy and felt we were exactly where God wanted us to be. There was just one problem. After years of trying to build a relationship with the pastor’s wife, I kept finding myself falling short, to the point where I wondered if she even liked me. What’s not to like, I thought. I did everything I thought a good pastors wife was supposed to do. I wore the right ‘pastor’s wife’ attire. My heels were the right height, my skirt was the right length, my shoes even matched my bag for heaven’s sake. I said all the right things, being careful not to say or do anything that would get me in trouble, which was a full-time job. I made sure my kids were dressed to perfection at all times and acted the part of perfect children being raised in a perfect pastor’s home. I was trying so hard to do everything right, but obviously I was doing something wrong.

After shedding countless tears and talking it over with my husband, we decided that I should schedule a luncheon with her to see if I could get to the root of the problem. We met at a local tea room, ordered our food and chatted politely. Toward the end of our lunch, I took a deep breath, swallowed hard and said, “I have something that is bothering me”, she listened intently. “I feel like I need to apologize for something”, I said, “It is clear there is tension between us and I sincerely want to apologize if I have done something to offend you.” She looked at me with little emotion as I spoke. “Did I do something wrong? Did I say something to upset you? Or maybe it’s just me in general you do not like. Whatever it is, I’m sorry.” Still, nothing. I continued, “I would appreciate it if you would tell me what I have done so I can make it right.” I waited for what seemed like several minutes for a response. I said, “whatever it is, I can handle it, just tell me, please.” When I said those last words, she smiled ever so slightly and said, “you didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just you in general.”

At that precise moment, something happened in me that I will never forget. Freedom happened. Of course I was a little shocked by her response, simply by the fact that I probably would not have had the courage to say that to anyone, but I was not hurt or offended. I asked for the truth and I got it.

Those three words, “it’s just you”, were a gift, and a turning point in my life and ministry. The Lord told me right then and there, “if you don’t measure up to someone else’s expectations, if being the person I created you to be is not enough, that’s their issue not yours. You need to be the person I created you to be, not what someone else expects you to be.”

It wasn’t my actions, my words, my clothes or my children, or even my mistake that was the problem. It was just the essence of me that she had the problem with, wow! What a relief! After all my hard work in pursuit of perfection, I finally saw that it didn’t change anything. I was just spinning my wheels. I saw that me being myself was enough, as a matter of fact, it was more than enough. God created me for a specific purpose, to reach specific people, and I couldn’t do that if I was spending my time me and energy trying to be something I wasn’t.

From that day forward I lived my life being comfortable in my own skin. If I made a mistake, I laughed about it and shared it with the world. If my kids did something stupid, which they did quite often, I dealt with it but never added extra shame because of who their father was. And if my knuckle dragging Neanderthal husband made me mad, I didn’t hide it. I just lived my real life for all to see. As a result, my realm of influence grew. Speaking engagements filled my calendar, younger mothers called me for advice and wives came to me for prayer and support. I’ll never forget what one church member said to me, “I keep forgetting you’re a pastor’s wife. I feel you’re just like one of us.” I took that as a compliment. Not that being a pastor’s wife is a bad thing, not at all. I am very proud of that title, I just don’t ever want it to get in the way of what I’m supposed to do. It’s just a title. It’s not who I am.

Now I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to regift. To regift simply means, to give a previously received gift to someone else. Typically when someone re gifts an item, it’s because they didn’t like it or need it, so they pass it along to someone else. In this case, I’m regifting because I DID like it and I DID Need it, so much that I thought you might like it and need it as well.

So here’s my gift to you.

Long before you were even a twinkle in your mother’s eye, God fashion you in such a way that was perfect for his grand plan. Weather He made you short or tall, plump or skinny, funny or serious, a leader or a follower, a dreamer or a doer, really smart or not so smart. Whether you have a filter or not, you walk on the wild side or the safe side, whether you play the piano or the radio, if you’d prefer to be up front or behind the scenes, no matter if you breast-fed or bottle fed or if you celebrate Elf on the shelf or not…it just doesn’t matter! All that matters is that you celebrate you and BE exactly who the creator of the Universe intended for you to be!

If we all wore two inch black heels with the matching bag and sat on the front row with our ankles crossed, if we all had perfect children, and lived with perfect, sensitive, romantic husbands that never made us mad…then we’d be Stepford wives. God created you unique for a unique purpose. So go, do and be exactly who you were created to be. And if anyone says they don’t like you, shrug it off and consider it their loss because I think you’re AMAZING!

Thanks for reading! And don’t forget to share this post with your friends. I love you more than Diet Coke.