The One Thing That Helped Me Grow the Fastest

Have you ever wanted to pursue a passion or move forward with a dream, but felt like you couldn’t let anyone know about it until you were further along on your journey? Losing the weight. Starting the business. Sharing the story. I get it because I’ve been there. On second thought, I’m still in the thick of it. For some reason, we often dim our sparks of change because we don’t think they’re worth showing unless they’re a mature, burning flame.

But the best thing we can do to become our best selves is to actively be that person right now, even if that means catching flack from other people.

When I first felt the call to write and speak publicly about my faith, my thought was “I’ll step out when I’m a better version of myself.” I felt too broken, too much in progress to be used by God. I wondered what my family, husband, or close friends might think because while they loved me, they also saw my flaws more than the typical stranger on the street or social media follower. My biggest fear was being labeled a hypocrite, and I wanted to narrow that chance as much as I could. I told God not yet; I couldn’t be public about my faith journey until I could be worthy of that call.

For months I privately wrote the takeaways from my faith walk, hoping to be able to go back to them when I was more of a Proverbs 31-type of woman. My plan was to let those words pile up like lost letters and utilize them when the time was right; when my ‘Christian signature’ was worth more. But while I was writing about the lessons I was learning about the life of Jesus, I was living out the OPPOSITE of the gospel. I was trying to clean myself up for God and for the world because I thought He couldn’t use my brokenness or sanctification season for His glory.

In retrospect, I was like Fred Flintstone: spinning my feet as fast as I could, hoping to move forward, but the car stayed put. I was trying too hard to change BEFORE I started on the path of becoming the woman I longed to be, which meant no movement at all. It was the equivalent of saying “I’ll go to the gym but only after I lose the weight.” We don’t want to feel judged publicly, so we keep spinning our wheels in private, doing the same unsuccessful activities hoping that we’ll see some results.

God can’t turn a stalled car, friend. You have to be moving for Him to lead and sometimes gracefully adjust your direction.

While I was afraid of being called a hypocrite if I moved forward in my faith, I was indeed being a hypocrite by living these two lives at home. One version writing about my faith in private and the other doing what I’d always done. But then something happened; I started trusting God with my story one baby step at a time.

I felt the nudge to reach out to a friend from college who owned a Christian-based company with the inquiry to write copy as she needed. Our friendship grew, and with it grew a dream to bring authentic Christian content to her Instagram community. At first, I withheld my feelings of disqualification and brokenness. I wanted her to see the best version of myself; the version I wished I could be all the time.

And while I was venturing out into the water with this woman who didn’t really know me, I still worried what the people who knew me better would think. I was excited to help be a part of kingdom work, but I was terrified at the thought that some of the women reading these posts might know a different version of me and then discount this company’s work. “I’ll ghostwrite”, I thought. “No one will know it’s me and they won’t be able to judge me.” Of course, it didn’t work out like that, and our idea quickly morphed into something bigger. As time went on, I grew braver. I threw my name at the end of posts for her business. I started adding Instagram stories with my face on them. I told my “closest” 400 Facebook friends that I was writing with this company. I slowly started venturing into the unknown waters with Christ, and the deeper I waded, the more I felt like this is where He wanted me all along.

Almost two years, over 75 devotional posts and a 12-week Bible Study later, here we are. I’m farther along in my faith than I’ve ever been, and I’ve gotten here faster than I ever could’ve imagined. I’m closer to being the woman I want to be, the God-fearing woman I’m called to be, but not because I cleaned myself up. I’m growing because I fearfully took the first step, trusted God with it, and have stayed committed to showing up for myself and others exactly as I am.

Here’s what I know now that I wish I would’ve known then: people who are pursuing the best versions of themselves don’t live two lives. They don’t straddle their old life and the life they want. They go all in. If we want to become our best selves we have to start living LIKE THAT PERSON, regardless of what other people might say or think. Because, as Marie Forleo wisely stated, “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.”

If you’re wanting to become a painter, stop watching YouTube tutorial videos and just pick up the paintbrush. If you’re itching to join the group fitness class, stop waiting until you’re in better shape. Better yet, place yourself in the front row and introduce yourself to the instructor. If you want to be a writer, you have to start letting people read your writing. Your mom and best friend don’t count. You can’t get where you’re supposed to be without taking the first, wobbly, imperfect step. And when we take steps forward and then accidentally stumble or go back a step, we’re still farther along than the person who’s standing still.

Do I still struggle with feelings of hypocrisy or disqualification? Absolutely. Do I still do things I’m not proud of, make mistakes, or fall short of the life God’s called me to? Every single day. But I’ve come to find that the more I actively choose to trust God in that brokenness, and open up to trusted Christian sisters and mentors about these ugly areas, the more freedom and healing I receive. I’ll end with a powerful portion of Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi. “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14. We have to let go of the past and press on toward the goal He’s set for us. May our past never define us, our future never overwhelm us, and our present situation never limit our God-given potential.

Joyful Takeaway: People who are pursuing the best versions of themselves don’t live two lives. They don’t straddle their old life and the life they want. They go all in.