When I was very young my dad used to race his trucks at mud runs. I was a cute chubby little blue-eyed princess that did NOT enjoy getting dirty. There's proof in a picture of me, with a big pink bow atop my head, crying as I held both of my little dirty hands straight out. In a family of outdoorsy type boys (okay...rednecks), I was cast out as special. Alas, I was deemed a "prissy one."
I never got a "B" on my report card until eighth grade. I was president of the student council and heavily involved as a leader in my competitive dance company. As straight-laced as they come, I was deemed "a good girl."
My parents separated before I could get my feet wet in high school. I took advantage of the rocky waters and was influenced greatly by those around me. I partied more than I studied, chased after the next cutest boy, and I had a mouth like a sailor. Four years seemed to fly by and meanwhile, everyone else noticed my ways. By then, I was deemed "a wild one."
I ended up snagging a good boy and people questioned what in the world he was thinking. Then, I was 18 and pregnant, which made heads turn and mouths talk. Everyone knows how these types of stories end up. This was before MTV's 16 and Pregnant but the cliché is as old as time. Alas, I was the "teenage mom."
Turns out I'm pretty good at this mom thing. Also, that boy and I? We really loved each other so we got married. I did everything right...organic baby food, adorable outfits, never let a curse word slip, took the kids to story time, and I even bought me some cardigans. Straight up bonafide Stepford Wife. I found Jesus along the way and well, just bless your heart, I'm deemed "the perfect stay-at-home mommy."
Why Am I Wearing a Label?
My whole life I have been labeled accordingly along my journey. Oftentimes, I lived into whatever people around me said I was. When I was told I was bad, boy was I bad. Alternatively, when I was expected to be good, I would never allow myself to waiver. When we're kids it's not hard to listen to what people tell you to be. As a certified people-pleaser, this comes easily for me in adulthood as well.
However, I've recently begun to buck the system. Words began to reaffirm this discontentment bubbling over inside of me. I came across quotes like, "You are entirely up to you," and "Bloom where you are planted." Even bible verses seemed like confirmation as they stated, "If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!"
Breaking Out of The Box
Something in me said: STOP living into your labels. STOP being what everyone else around you says you have to be. STOP conforming all the details of yourself to look like the ideals the pressure of society outlines for you. START living your God-given truth. START ferociously chasing after the passions and desires God's buried inside of you all along. START allowing yourself to change, to grow, to blossom into a new creature within different seasons of your life. START unapologetically unfolding who you are inside for all of suburbia to see, whether it fits in "the box" or not.
For me, that means taking some leaps professionally that I've never thought appropriate for a stay-at-home mom to desire. It means going to the gym regardless of my kids' schedules, and sometimes feeding them three lollipops per session just to occupy their little hands long enough. As funny as this one sounds, it means wearing clothes that don't look like what the other moms at the Room Mom meetings are wearing. I mean, not buttless chaps or anything too crazy, but you'd be surprised how scandalous jean shorts can feel in a room of mom capris (#freethethighs). This means handing my kids electronics, or letting them play outside in the yard barefoot and unsupervised, or giving into cookies before dinner without an OUNCE OF GUILT because I'm human and not afraid to say, "Give me a break from being 'on' for just a dang second!"
Who Am I?
This season of life has me asking myself "WHO AM I?" outside of the roles and labels I've been wearing. It's taken some digging and some growing pains, but I can feel "me" emerging and holding my head up high. That's my favorite part of this wonderful, albeit painful, process - watching myself come to be. It's like when you see your kid stand up to the little brat that's been pushing everyone around in the play-place at Chick-fil-A and inside you hear your heart say, "Atta girl!"
So far I've discovered I'm an introverted extrovert who enjoys a great party, but wants her space on any given weekday, home alone just to get stuff done. I've got a God-given calling to write and it will be used to transform lives. My good eye for pretty things in decor and design is a useful and meaningful gift. I love church (the relationship, the people.) I don't love church (the rules, the religion). I'm the type of mom who shows tough love. I will hold my children gently and affirm their self-confidence until I'm blue in face. I will also tell them, "Suck it up! If you were listening you wouldn't have gotten hurt," with my next breath. I am assertive and opinionated. Tidying up is my jam. Actually cleaning is for the birds. Kindness and humility are very high on my list. My heart is deeply rooted in caring for others intentionally and consistently.
The rest is yet to be unveiled on my journey of busting out of my labels and blooming into myself unapologetically. I wish this freedom for myself and also for you. So let me encourage you to look at the labels you're wearing today. How do you live hidden under the bucket, hiding the light God wove together in the details of you? STOP allowing circumstances or people or society tell you who you are. START listening to God lead you into who He created you to be. You'll be pleasantly surprised and you'll find yourself hearing "atta girl" along the way.
This is Candace. She hates long walks on the beach and would prefer a short drive to get a doughnut. Her creative spirit leaves her husband constantly guessing which room she'll decorate next and her kids requesting elaborate birthday parties. She'll tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it. But don't worry, she'll make you laugh to soften the blow. Her heart longs to share the realness of her life and provide someone else a "me too" in a moment of isolation. Words are her thing; she writes to heal. God grasped a hold of Candace as a teenage mama, and she's been desperate for His love and sensitive to His voice everyday since.