I’m Not a P31 Woman . . . And That’s Okay

perfectly imperfect family

We all want to be the P31 woman. Proverbs 31:10-31 is the epitome of what a Christian woman should look like. It’s kind of the Christian woman’s guideline for living. I had two amazing years to be a stay at home mom and wife, and during that time I looked as close to the P31 woman as I’ve ever looked. It was easier then because my focus was 100% on my husband, kids, and home. I didn’t have outside stressors taking away my energy and focus.

But you know what?

I still was not a P31 woman.

You know what else?

I constantly beat myself up for it. Now that I’m working full time, I beat myself up for it even more because I fall short even more than I did before.

But It’s Okay

God has really been speaking to me about this a lot lately. Every time I’m hard on myself for not fitting into what I consider to be the definition of a Christian woman, he reminds me that’s why I need him. And I didn’t just need him once when I prayed the prayer for salvation; I need him every day.

The P31 woman is pretty perfect in every way. I’ve wasted so much time being depressed and down on myself for not being the definition of a Christian woman according to this scripture, but during those times, Jesus gently whispers to me,

“It’s alright, my daughter. I came because your flesh doesn’t allow you to be perfect. I gave my life so that your Daddy God can see you through a different lens, and that lens allows him to see you just as he sees me – as perfection. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy. Don’t let him condemn you for your flaws and imperfections. The blood I shed takes that all away. I want you to strive to be your best, but that doesn’t mean you in your own strength are going to be the perfect P31 woman. You are still a wife of noble character.”

Praise God for Jesus coming to take my place and making me righteous in God’s eyes even when I fail!

One thing I’ve learned is that if my focus is on what all characteristics of the P31 woman I can check off for myself, then I’m going to quickly see where I fail, and my focus will have been taken from the important pieces of my life – my family.

I urge you, dear friends, not to place your focus on those areas where you miss the mark. You may find some days (or most days) that you don’t match up with any of those Proverbs 31 characteristics. You know what? That is completely okay. It has taken me so long to learn that, and I still struggle with it sometimes because I feel like I’m failing at being a wife, mom, and Christian. . . most days.

Our God is a good and gracious God. He looks at our hearts, and he is so loving and patient despite how badly we miss the mark. He knows we’re trying. He knows we want to be the wife of noble character. He knows the desires of our hearts, and he gives us grace when we don’t fit that definition. It doesn’t mean we aren’t wives of noble character. It doesn’t make us any less of a Christian woman. It means we serve a mighty God who is full of mercy and grace and loves us unconditionally.

My children may not rise up and call me blessed every morning (especially when it’s basically a fight-to-the-death grudge match just to get them up and off to school most days), but I can assure you that they view me as someone who is very close to the same woman of noble character that Proverbs 31 describes. I’m willing to bet your kids see you the same. Stop beating yourself up, and please PLEASE stop comparing yourself to the women you think are the perfect woman. Newsflash – they’re not either.

God loves you. Don’t spend your days trying to be the P31 woman and beating yourself up when you miss the mark. You’ll miss out on some great things if you do that. Be your best. Just as we strive to walk as closely with Jesus as we can, we will never walk in perfect step with him. It doesn’t stop us from trying. Look at Proverbs 31 the same way, and give yourself grace.

Teacher, Coach, Entrepreneur, Parent, Mentor. . .Are You As Effective As You Think? 3 Questions That Will Make or Break You as a Motivator.

MOTIVATOR

According to audioenglish.org, the noun MOTIVATOR has only 1 sense:  “a positive motivational influence” (emphasis added).

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past day or so because I surround myself with many types of people who are viewed as motivators.  I consider my own self to be a motivator in certain areas as well.

A motivator’s intentions are to positively motivate others in specific areas.  Let’s break it down with our handy dandy thesaurus (Thesaurus.com).
**A motivator’s intentions are to

  • EXCITE others
  • INSPIRE others
  • PROPEL others
  • SPARK (ignite a fire in) others
  • LEAD others
  • MOVE others

 These Questions Will Make or Break You as a Successful Motivator

We all have the opportunity to motivate on some level.  It’s vital that those of us who portray ourselves as motivators (spiritually, academically, physically, nutritionally, etc.) always ask ourselves 3 questions before submitting that next text, email, private message, status update, advertisement or verbal communication:

1. What is it that truly moves me to excel at the things I might typically struggle to do because the want to just isn’t fully there?

When asking yourself this question, be honest.  Are you motivated long term by money, genuine compassion, someone yelling in your face about what you’re doing wrong, someone being condescending toward you [belittling you] to push you into becoming better, someone giving you praise at even your smallest achievements and attempts, someone telling you how much they believe in you, someone doing what you’re doing alongside of you . . . ?  The list can go on for miles.  Ultimately, you’ll land on what you find to be your strongest motivator that helps you become a better you, and when that motivator is no longer in the picture, you can still find yourself being successful.

When asking this question, it’s also important to understand you are not the one who determines what motivates others.  Every person is different, and a good motivator knows how to make adjustments for different people and in different settings.  What works for you might not work for the person you are trying to motivate.  In the same regard, what works for that person you’re currently motivating, very well may not work for his or her friend who comes to you tomorrow in search of a push toward the same type of excellence.

2. Are my words meant to encourage or discourage?

This is a big one for so many of us.  I remember when I began teaching, I had gone through all those years of school being taught, “You can never start out easy and move to being strict.  It’s better to start off overly strict and ease up.”  That’s how I began my teaching career, and that first year was just not fun for the students or me.  I was not . . . ME. . . Yes, I have very high expectations of my students and those I coach in the fitness world, but I was taking on the persona of those who came before me as well as the one who mentored me, and I was downright mean and very well may have damaged some kids in the process.

I feel certain I did not motivate anyone that year to excel at Spanish or to become a teacher or, well, anything.  I don’t feel I inspired a single student that year.  Why?  Because 1) I was trying to be someone I’m not and 2) it’s very difficult for someone to genuinely be moved by such harsh words and what I’m sure appeared to be a heart with little to no compassion.

In the 14+ years I’ve lead, taught, mentored, coached people, I’ve learned that absolutely no one is motivated long term by those types of things.  In fact, that’s where many completely lose any bit of desire they had to excel in whatever area it is.

3. Do I know this person’s story?

That person you’re talking to – the one you’re trying to motivate – the person who is silently watching and trying to muster up the nerve to even approach you about bettering herself – do you know whether or not she has struggled with some serious issues in her past where your sarcastic or curt words could feel to her as verbal abuse or even bring back old memories or tendencies that she has worked so hard to overcome?  If you don’t know the answer to this question, you might want to really consider your marketing plan before putting it out there.

The fact is, you don’t know the stories behind everyone who comes into your class, home, social networking world, or place of business.  You don’t even know what kind of day people have had, and your words are meant to inspire not degrade.

We can’t walk on eggshells because we’re too afraid to hurt someone’s feelings, but at the same time we can be smart and sensitive to the fact that there are people with all different kinds of stories who cross our paths, and if we present ourselves as a “go-to” person for motivation, then we must also be considerate in our motivational techniques.  Even things you wouldn’t take as being hurtful may very well be hurtful to someone else.  We absolutely must think about these things first.

Quick personal example: I remember someone just a year or two ago who came up to me and went on and on about how teeny tiny I was and proceeded to tell me that I need to be counting calories and I should be using this special app to make sure I’m eating enough, and I need to start focusing on adding such and such to my diet this many times a day so I could gain weight.

That may sound like nothing to you.  However, it was very difficult for me.  In the first place, I never asked this person for her advice or thoughts.  I actually had never even met this person but she was a friend of a friend, and we were at the same event.  Second, I was already lifting heavy, taking supplements, and eating enough for a family of 5 during that time in order to try to gain muscle, and I can’t help that God created me as a small person.  Lastly, she had no idea that I had struggled with eating and counting calories and weighing myself in the past or that I had already attempted twice to use that special app, but I saw those tendencies from my past coming back, and I knew it wasn’t smart for me to use it.  She also didn’t know that I had for the first time in my life loved my body and the way I felt inside and outside but had recently started struggling with it again because of a few similar remarks from loved ones, so hearing someone I had never met go on for what seemed like days while I could feel my chest burning because I was working so hard to keep the tears from making an appearance came really close to sending me over the edge causing me to quit anything related to fitness altogether.  Yes, I did consider that on several occasions after hearing what, to me, were incredibly negative comments about myself.

This instance wasn’t even something as serious as some things I’ve seen happening to others, but I think it gives you an idea of how the things we say can really negatively affect those who look up to us as motivators just as much as it can positively affect them.

Our goal is to motivate – to challenge and push as we influence, inspire, encourage, and move someone into a positive direction.

7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone: Day 7

Comfort zone 7

Day 7
This is NOT the End

It started last Friday when I felt the need to take 7 days to step outside of my comfort zone.  What I thought would be just a little uncomfortable actually became more than uncomfortable.  Some days I found myself trying to reason with God when I didn’t want to talk about certain things, and on those days I usually typed my words with a tremble in my hands and shed a few tears before clicking Publish.  God’s perspective is much greater than mine, though.  I’m thankful I did this.  Believe it or not, it was incredibly freeing. 

Today will be a different way of stepping outside of the comfort zone.  Maybe I will be required to step out even more, but maybe I won’t be required to step out at all.  The reason I don’t know is because I leave it in your hands.  I’m opening today up for specific questions from anyone reading this.  Of course, if you’re reading months after this has been written and posted, feel free to still ask questions.

Maybe no one will ask questions.  Who knows?  I do hope to interact with many of my readers as a result of these 7 days, though.  I know people might have specific questions about something they’ve read this week or something they’ve heard.  Please, don’t hesitate to ask regardless of how small or big the question is. 

This may be day 7 of my 7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone, but this is definitely not the end of me stepping outside of what is comfortable for me.  One thing I know is true; if I’m walking out my purpose, I’m going to be asked to get outside of the comfort of my little walls.  Look at those who have done anything great, past or present.  I bet it won’t take long to find that they had to step outside of their comfort zones in order to be great. 

What is one way you can step outside of your comfort zone this weekend?

**If you would like to contact me to ask questions about anything regarding anything I’ve talked about this week, or if you just feel the need to talk, you can always comment to this post.  However, if you would prefer it to not be quite so public, you can use the contact form below to send me an email.**