Are You a Turtle or a Tiger? Time to Choose.

I’ve always hated coming up with a New Year’s resolution.  I can’t stand it.

And with this country’s state of affairs, who in the heck has the energy to come up with one this year? Good gracious. 2020 was an absolutely nightmare and unfortunately, it appears that 2021 is off to a rocky start as well. There’s a big part of me that wants to stay in my PJ’s, watch the news 24/7, gorge on chips and salsa and wish my mom had put more bourbon in the candy she mailed me. I mean, why would I do anything else?! Trust me, it’s so tempting to stay in my stretchy pants and my softest pink sweatshirt and scream, “I %$#@ SURRENDER! I GIVE UP!"

Can you relate?

But I can’t do that. Oh, there’s a big part of me that would love to, but there’s a bigger part of me that says, “Ang, shake it off. Put on your lipstick and your big girl panties and DEAL WITH IT.”  Ugh, I hate when that louder, not to mention smarter side of me, wins out.

Don’t you?

This month my blog is focusing on change of all kinds.  But let me be clear: this blog has nothing to do with us shedding our COVID weight.  It has nothing to do with agreeing or disagreeing with the incessant angry politics that deafens our rational ability to think or feel.  And in no way does it have anything to do with trading in my glasses of wine (sorry ladies, we all know consumption increased by 85% this year) for healthy green tea.

This blog has nothing to do with these issues. It has EVERYTHING to do with all the LIES our brain tries to trick us into thinking. 

Let’s get real—all of us have had more than enough time this year to sit on the sofa and ponder our existence.  We gotta own that. During this shutdown we’ve taken time to redecorate, reorganize shelves and tackled fix-it tasks that we’d put off for years. But when it comes to taking a good hard look ourselves and coming up with a plan to permanently change our way of thinking about ourselves, we’d rather shampoo carpet or arrange our spice cabinet.

Trust me, I get it.  But having a clean rug or knowing the whereabouts of my garlic salt won’t help me sleep better or encourage me to chase my dreams.  It’s not about straightening up material possessions. It’s about getting my head on straight and I’d like you to do it with me.

We women have told ourselves so many lies:

*We shouldn’t have sexual desires, as that means we’re self-centered and sin-filled.

*After we retire, our lives should be focused on taking care of everyone else, raising grandkids and volunteering for any cause put before us.

*Starting a new job or chasing a dream you’ve always had is crazy, especially at this stage of your life.

*We shouldn’t strive for personal happiness, especially if that requires a life change, as that’s being too selfish and unchristian-like.

*We shouldn’t love exercising so much, as that’s being too vain.

Ladies, do you see a trend here or does at least ONE of these lies strike a cord? If so, know you’re among friends. And sadly, we are large in number. It’s no wonder women aged 45 and over have a greater rate of depression, divorce and heart attacks. How can we dare have a healthy emotional and physical existence when we’re too busy listening to the lies the enemy whispers into our ears: “You’re not a woman of God if you want to look sexy, chase your own dreams, and stand up for what you need. No way. You’re out of his good graces for sure.”

As a widely-respected Christian author once stated, in regards to this way of thinking, “the madness stops here.”

I agree with her. It must.

But as someone who’s trying to stop the madness in her own life, I won’t lie to my readers. It’s tough rewiring our brains and clearing out the cobwebs of false truths in which we've clung to so tightly. When we take such brave actions in our lives, there’s always consequences. In an attempt to get emotionally and physically healthy, I’ve lost a few friends, had my sanity questioned by my ex-spouse, sold my home, and watched my main source of income change drastically. No, this kind of work is never easy. You may have been a parent that’s had to practice tough love with a child. But sweet friend, it’s even harder to inflict tough love on ourselves.

One of my favorite little creatures is a turtle. It strangely seems that in the most opportune times in my life, I come across a little turtle sculpture or painting that forces me to wonder why I’ve always identified with this stoic little reptile. Perhaps you do as well. In the past I’ve told myself it’s because I have a soft underbelly and keep it well hidden. I can be a tough girl on the outside, but inside I often feel raw, vulnerable and scared. I much rather stay inside my home and only come out when there's not even the slightest chance of danger. Regardless of how much I smile and appear on social media, I’m very much a turtle. Whether it’s feeling broken-hearted, betrayed or angered at the audacity of a friend, my response is retreating to my shell. I don’t answer my phone, eat very little, and simply remain quiet until it’s 100% safe and calm. Ugh. 

What about you?

Thanks to this COVID nightmare, I’ve had a lot of time to think. All of this turtledom has been a choice I’ve made for many years. I got comfortable with the cobwebs and false truths. I believed the Enemy that said I was being selfish and should accept the old adages, “this is as good as it gets so just suck it up.” 

I have a feeling I’m not alone. It's much easier to hunker down and stay hidden in the weeds. But hiding gives one time to consider their reality. 

While being a woman of God requires that we show respect and love for others, it also states that we should love ourselves.  This doesn’t mean it gives us free reign to sin and hurt others. Not at all. But I truly believe God wants us to be happy, true to ourselves, and still honor him. Believe it or not, as middle-aged and post middle-aged women, we can chase new dreams, experience passion, and completely start over in a job--if that is our desire. And most importantly, we can still love and BE-LOVED by Jesus.

We can enjoy the wide-open spaces and thrive. 

That, dear one, seems more like the actions of a tiger than a turtle.  Both are creatures that God adores, but for me, it’s time I be a feline.  I’m going to chase my target, (or my dreams as a writer and jewelry designer), and think intelligently on how to have that within my grasp. I’m going to allow my body to bask in the sun and feel sexy. (That entails hiding my stretchy pants and getting my body healthy.) I’m going to be brave enough to bare my heart and fall passionately in love, regardless if makes me feel utterly breathless.

Yes, it’s time we be felines in our own personal way and thank God for giving us that ability. Join my blog and tell me what you think. Together let’s go on a journey that allows us to love both God and ourselves.  It requires prayer, persistence and the willingness to poke our heads out when uncertainty looms,  but I know we can do this.  We can live and we can love.

And who knows, you might even look into the mirror and purr….

Brightest of Blessings,

Angie

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