Who Are Your Cheerleaders?

Who Are Your Cheerleaders?

Mom, how did you do that?” my daughter asked me a couple months ago as she studied this old photo.

“Practice,” I told her, “And abs. I had really strong abs.”

I ignored her skeptical glare.

The truth is, some days I can hardly believe this myself.

But I was – at that point – fit and, come game time, loud.

Today, I make it a point NOT to raise my voice. And my abs? Well, I exercise, but I’m 45 and have brought 3 kids into the world. They are worth every bit of physical sacrifice, but I don’t wear bikinis anymore.

Way back then, I was a cheerleader, which in theory means we were encouraging others to play to their best abilities.

And whether we were effective at helping the football team win (questionable – but it was SO MUCH FUN!), the fact remains that our role precipitated one we’d all need forever.

Throughout life every person requires cheerleaders in some form. We need individuals who are rooting for us when times are hard and we forget how to summon the strength within ourselves to meet the current challenges.

So who are your cheerleaders?

Last week, I rediscovered a couple of mine when I suffered from a strong bout of anxiety.

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, unease, and nervousness, sometimes for no apparent reason, but typically related to an imminent event with an uncertain outcome.

For me, the attack was triggered by the realization that at the writer’s conference I would attend on Saturday (my very first ever), I would show some of my work to editors, who could offer criticism. (The idea that they might also approve of it never factored into my thinking.) Selecting a piece and the idea of having to “sell” my writing to potential publishers filled me with such dread that I sailed right off the ledge of reality and into a pit of fear. I had myself convinced that I had never strung two words together that made a bit of sense, and that I must be a moron for ever having started a blog in the first place.

Thank goodness, I’ve learned that anxiety is not something you entertain, and I called in reinforcements, which arrived in spades in the form of four good friends.

One of them texted with me over two days until my head was in a better place. Here’s just a sample of her words to me:

This brief exchange illustrates how your best cheerleaders: 1) remind you that you can handle the struggle, 2) call forth your truest self, and 3) push you back into the game.

Your cheerleaders should be people who share your values. People who speak the truth about life in a tone that shows their love and concern for you and your welfare. They build up and never tear down. They should focus on what can be done instead of obstacles and limitations. They care about the state of your soul, mind, and body.

My cheerleaders also have these things in common with me: they trust God and have an interest in reading and learning about Scripture; they listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirit; and they know that their identity is found not in their accomplishments or worldly assets, but is rooted in Jesus Christ and His unconditional love. If that last bit makes no sense to you, here’s a piece that might help.

As adults we don’t often publicly admit that we have moments of self-doubt, abject panic, and baseless fear, but it does happen. And we need people we can count on who won’t laugh at us or call us cowards.

We need people who will rush in to talk, laugh, cry, and pray with us. We need a loyal team.

So consider – who are your cheerleaders? And who do you cheer for?

Choose your core supporters wisely. And when you need them, don’t be afraid to call them in.

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.” – C.S. Lewis

What’s Your Battery Size?

What’s Your Battery Size?

Ever heard my ‘battery theory’?

Well…notice how some people have lots more energy than most of us? I mean – TONS more??

I have a friend who has six kids. At one point, she was home-schooling several of them while working part-time, serving as president of a women’s organization, and volunteering at a children’s theater for which she sewed 40+ costumes every single season.

For real.

I don’t think she sleeps.

One time, I told her I believe she was born with ‘D’ batteries, while I was given the ‘AAAs.’

Now, I could belittle myself for not accomplishing as much as she does each day, but what good would that do me?

I’ve traveled down the “woe is me” road before, and it’s a bumpy ride.

It makes me anxious, actually.

Why?

Because when I compare myself to others, I am placing them (or their this or that) above me or below me. It’s as if I’m standing on a ladder, looking up or down.

So – let’s consider…

By definition – this situation is unstable.

A ladder is NOT a rock.

I need a big, flat ROCK to stand on.

And I’ve found – strangely enough – that my soul was built for this.

It’s called toward only One rock.

A verse from Psalms sums this up nicely:

Teach me to do your will,
For you are my God.
May your kind spirit guide me
On ground that is level.
-Psalm 143:10

I need to stand flat-footed in this world – keeping proper perspective. Humble before the God who looks on me as his beloved, beautiful one (Song of Songs 2:10). Shoulder to shoulder with my fellow humans. Focused with a grateful heart on the One who gave me Life, and acknowledging my talents as His gifts, for His love surpasses all human kindness, and His intentions are perpetually pure.

My gifts (and yours) are perfectly suited to their recipient, and when I seek the counsel of the Giver, I will be blessed with guidance on how to use those gifts, and when.

There is a quote hanging in my home office that I read every day to remind me that there is Hope and a Plan for my life, set forth by the One who created me to be uniquely myself:

Let us not be confused by the talents and missions of other saints.

Let us be the kind of saints we were created to be.

– Mother Angelica

So be it.

They are Yours…

Saturday night I received this photo from my dad via text message.

Then he wrote:

“Just left Seattle for 7 day cruise to Alaska. Our first real vacation since 2002….Have a great week!  We will!!” 

There was a party hat emoticon at the beginning of the message, and a smiley face at the end. I think it’s safe to say he and his wife were looking forward to this trip.

And at 8:15 last night as I was cleaning up the kitchen, I realized that at that moment, both my mom and her husband, as well as my mother- and father-in-law were flying over the Atlantic Ocean. One couple to Dublin, the other to Budapest. It’s my mom’s first trip to Ireland – place of her grandparents’ birth, and yesterday was my mother-in-law’s birthday. Great way to celebrate, right? Special days for two women I cherish.

I’ve known about these three trips for quite some time; they’ve been marked on my calendar for weeks. But having all three sets of our parents out of the Continental U.S. at the same time feels a bit strange. At 43, my husband and I are grown-ups (at least our kids think so), and we have been for awhile, but a part of me still wants to know that Mom and Dad can be accessed easily. If we need them. I know we are very, very blessed to still have all of our parents.  But knowing something doesn’t always protect you from your emotions. And with two sets above the Atlantic, anxiety started to rear its ugly head.

The churning inside only lasted a couple of minutes, as my mind started to explore the what-ifs. But I cut off the worries by reaching higher.

“Lord, I trust in You. I know You love them so much more than I do. Lord, I trust in You. Please keep them safe. Lord, I trust in You.” 

The peace which surpasses all understanding came, as He promises us it will when we put our faith in Him. And when my mind starts to get the better of me, I’ll repeat that truthful refrain.

Lord, I trust in You.