Question for you: What does "going back to normal" mean for you and who defines what our normal even looks like?
Going back to normal for me means conforming to what people want me to be. It means allowing my people-pleasing days to continue. It means suppressing how I feel because it might offend someone I don’t even know or worse someone I care about. It means putting what others think about me over what I know about myself. Going back to normal sounds great on the outside, but it sure does kill who I want to be on the inside.
I have been asked a great deal lately how I managed to publish my first book while also having a baby, and then how I managed to lose the baby weight.
First, I must add a disclaimer here that all my baby weight is not gone, and second — you are only seeing what I allow you to see. For the sake of full transparency, I have to be 100 percent with you and let you know that in order to lose my baby weight (which is not all gone,) I have been working my butt off since my son Lucas was barely even 1 week old. Always staying with what the doctors approve, of course, I started with walks in my neighborhood and gradually moved up to a light jog here and a strength training workout there. What surprised me the most was the amount of strength I'd lost over the months. I felt weaker and was hard on myself. I forgot to give my self GRACE, and my frustration in the gym trickled to being frustrated with the new me. I wanted normal—and my normal was what I was pre-pregnancy.
During this time, I wrote a blog post on my breaking point ( if you haven’t read it yet, please do!). While crying in my closet, I realized something very important: I was stretching myself in order to get validation from other people, which would in return validated how I felt about myself. Sounds silly when I type it but that was my truth! I cared so much about what other people thought that I forgot to give myself what I needed the most — GRACE!
I thank the Lord daily now for that breaking point, and honestly since then, so many more revelations have been coming up for me. One being that we are all so busy trying to be normal and fit in that we settle for less than what God intended for our lives. Why are we allowing society and social media to determine how we live our lives? Why are we allowing the world to tell us what we can and cannot do? God will not bless who we pretend to be! He will only bless who we really are! The minute we let go of the expectations from other people that we allow to hold weight on our lives is the minute we will become free! That freedom will in return give us the one thing we are lacking — CREATVITY to dream!
You see, when we are running on what others expect of us, we become stressed and try to control things that honestly we have no business controlling. This leads to us comparing our lives with the lives of others we see on social media. We start to compete for attention instead of embracing and empowering other people.
However, the second we let go of the expectations, we tend to see things in a different light. With me for example, when I decided to give myself GRACE and to stop working out to lose the weight for others but instead for myself, God placed two extraordinary women I am beyond fortunate to call friends on my path, and together we began holding one another accountable. Eating habits changed, daily walks became jogs for fun, and my workout routine—even though it felt as though I was a beginner again—started to feel more like a lifestyle rather than a chore.
The biggest lesson here is that life is always better when you do things as a collective with the right people. God placed these two women in my life at a time when He saw how alone I was on my journey and that I needed help. Not professional help, but friendship! A friend who says, “It’s okay girl, you got this! We’re in this together!” But remember: God can only bless who you really are, not who you pretend to be! Had I not woken up and realized that my intentions were wrong, I wouldn’t have been opened to this blessing!
Now that the stress of expectation is gone, I stopped thinking about what I once was! No, why would I want to go back to the past! I’m dreaming for an even better tomorrow! A stronger version of myself. A wiser version! A better version!
Stay tuned for the next part of this series where I’ll dive into how I managed to get Between Two Worlds published during maternity leave. Hint, hint: it deals with community! BIG TIME!