Maybe we should all listen to Shakira (and Whitney Houston)


I have always wanted to be a mother. My earliest memories of playing with toys were always with my dolls, who I considered to be my children. All growing up, I watched my parents with their parenting methods, making mental notes of what I would do the same and the many things I would do differently. This was one of the first desires of my heart. Undoubtedly, I would have been an amazing mother. However, God had something different in store for me when I became paralyzed from the shoulders down at age 18.

Here I am at the tender age of one, honing my mothering skills by holding my baby sister, KeriAnn

Being unable to pursue this righteous desire of my heart because of circumstances that are out of my control is very sad. At times, I have felt tremendous anxiety. It seems so unfair to have this fire burning in my heart, yearning to nurture the next generation, and ultimately having nowhere to stoke these flames. At least, in the way that I envisioned.

I don't understand why I was given this lifelong trial where every single day is SO hard. I don't understand why I have this righteous desire to mother when I can't become one. I don't know why I have a loving heart and no one to share it with. About 10 years ago, I remember feeling intensely sad about these circumstances. I was doing all that I could to be a good person and to try and fulfill my potential, yet I continued to feel unwell in my soul. That's when I gave over these worries to Jesus Christ, and He kept them for me. I don't know if I will ever have any kind of real understanding of the "whys" of my situation.

One Sunday, I was early to church, and I sat, pondering, when I was completely overtaken with a feeling of absolute calm. I didn't hear any words as much as I felt what they meant. The feeling meant that God knew everything I was going through. He knew my struggles on an intimate level. I was meant to use my loving heart, understanding disposition, and desire to mother in a different way in this mortal life. Jesus Christ was happy with my thoughts, desires and actions. It was enough for Him, and it should be enough for me.

Ever since I had that experience, I have felt my burden becoming lighter. I have felt that what I've done is enough. I am enough how I am right now.

You are also enough. We are all learning. I'm going to quote some deep stuff here in the form of Shakira, so buckle up. She croons in her song, "Try Everything," that "nobody learns without getting it wrong¹." Just because you are learning and, therefore, getting it wrong, doesn't mean you aren't enough. It just means that you are learning. "Birds just don't fly they fall down and get up¹." A bird that flies perfectly now has, in the past, fallen many times learning how.

Wise words to live by

I just watched this video based on a true story², and in it, a young man got into a hiking accident and had to have his foot amputated. His dream was to run track in high school the next year because he had always been one of the fastest runners in his class up until that point. The next year, he joined track, and he was able to run with the aid of a prosthetic foot. In every competition, he finished dead last, doing his absolute best. However, every single race he took part in, he won by completing it. Shakira also sings,

"Look how far you've come
You filled your heart with love
Baby, you've done enough
Take a deep breath
Don't beat yourself up
No need to run so fast
Sometimes we come last, but we did our best.¹"

I'm sure a lot of us feel like we've come in last doing our best. I know that I have many times. It is hard not to feel discouraged when our best doesn't seem to be good enough. Before God reassured me, I felt this insane drive to do better than I physically could. I was doing everything that I knew how to do to be better, but I could only feel like I was lacking in some vital way. I needed to do more to be acceptable. That is not how it works. Our best is perfectly good enough.

Sometimes, however, we feel that we are not doing our best. That can be disheartening, and it can often feel like our past efforts should have or could have been way better, especially knowing what we do now that we didn't then. As we continually grow and learn, our "best" capacity also changes. So, even if you weren't doing your best, it is very probable that you are doing better than you once did.

I wanted to major in music. Unable to play any instrument, I majored in literature. Still showed up and did my best! I graduated!

I'd also like to make it abundantly clear that as long as you are still trying, you are winning!. You are enough. As one of God's most precious creations, He made you the way you are. He doesn't make mistakes. You are amazing, wondrous, and enough the way you are right now. If you are still working on things, that's even more amazing! Just because you could be better doesn't mean you can't love who you are at this moment. And you should!

I wrote a funny song called "I Love Myself." It is a silly song about someone who is very into themselves for all the wrong reasons, and who seems to only be happy by putting other people down. This is not real self-love. Real self-love is accepting the person you are. It is understanding that you have intrinsic worth, just by existing. It is being grateful for yourself!

Think of someone that you love the most in this world. If they had a bad day and were feeling exhausted or worthless, what would you say to them? I might say something like, "I know it was a hard day, but there are better ones in store for you." or, "You are not worthless and have many amazing qualities," or simply, " I love you." You might say something along those lines. Why can't we say the same things to ourselves? Whitney Houston wisely sang, "Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.³" And she taught us this in like 1985 or 1986. I feel like we should have taken her seriously, and we should all know this lesson by now! (I also just found out that she covered this from a George Benson song that was released in 1977!) Why is it so hard to love ourselves? (Also, Whitney had the voice of an angel on earth. Gosh, there is something otherworldly about how beautifully she sang!)

I am enough. You are enough. We can do better in the future, but we won't really appreciate our progress until we love ourselves more fully in the present. If your self talk says critical things about you, don't listen to it. Listen to me. You are more amazing than you think. You need to enjoy who you are now! It's hard to offer advice on how to do this better from my perspective, because I love myself a lot. Some people might even say that I do so too much. But even though I do love and enjoy myself, I probably don't love myself enough! If your self talk is something you wouldn't say to your best friend/significant other/parent that you deeply love/child, you need to stop saying it to yourself. Combat those thoughts and replace them with something you would say to your loved one.

I know that you can do this. Don't be sad for coming in last. Be happy that you did your best and were in the race! You are amazing, even if you could be better. You are loved. You are of infinite worth. You are enough!