Life Is Too Hard and Too Short to Be Our Own Worst Critics: A Guest Post

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Friend, Kaitlin here. Today is the best and I bet you didn’t even know it yet. Today, I get to host my good friend Stephanie May Wilson on the blog because she has TWO books releasing today and you’re going to love them. Steph and I began as blog friends and then got to be real-life friends when we both moved to Nashville around the same time. One of my favorite things about this friend is how much she cares for her readers. She’s always talking about the smart things they say, worrying about them, answering their emails, praying for them — and every word of her writing proves it. Steph’s always the first to say “Me too” and remind us we’re all in it together. Enjoy hanging out with her and make sure to check out The Lipstick Gospel Devotional and Prayer Journal! 

Hey sweet friends!

I am so excited that I get to share this with you today! This is an excerpt from my new book, The Lipstick Gospel Devotional (which is now officially here!!). I wanted to just give you a little sample of it — to share one of the days of the devotional with you, so you can get a feel for what it’s all about.

In The Lipstick Gospel Devotional, we talk about God and our relationships with Him and how to find Him in our everyday lives. It’s about rest, and celebration, and learning to love ourselves. It’s about travel, and whimsy, and toes in the sand, about the transformative power of best friends, and a really great chocolate croissant. It’s a reminder that there’s never anything too broken for God to heal or redeem, and a dare to say yes to the plan He has for our lives.

But today, this part of the devotional is all about identity — about learning to feel comfortable and confident in our skin and learning to truly love ourselves instead of being our own worst critics. (Oof — I know that’s tough for me sometimes, and I’d bet I’m not the only one.) So you ready? Here we go!

Here’s an official excerpt from my newest book, The Lipstick Gospel Devotional:

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“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5

There are seasons in life when I just cannot give myself a break. Do you ever have times like that? Every moment, every glance in the mirror, every action is a reminder of all the ways I fall short — of all the things I could be, could do, and ways I could look but don’t.

I think things like, “You really should go to the gym more. You are really looking gross these days. Of course you failed, you always do. Could you possibly be more annoying?”

I make a simple mistake like forgetting to bring my lunch, and my thoughts are entirely unforgiving. “You always do stuff like this! You are so forgetful and irresponsible! You can just be hungry until we get home. That’ll teach you to remember things next time!”

I crack down on myself hard. I think that if I am just a little bit meaner, just a little bit harsher, if I just raise the bar a little bit, I’ll be motivated enough to leap over it. I’ll meet the sky-high expectations I have for myself and stop being such a disappointment.

For years, more years than I can count, this is how I’ve talked to myself. I’ve been my own worst critic. I’ve criticized my body, and my mind, and my actions, and my skills. I’ve held myself up to my friends, and coworkers, and women I’ve never even met. “Why can’t you be more like her?” I’d ask myself. “You have got to get it together!”

As I say these words out loud to you, I feel like I’m peeking out from a dark corner. Anyone else? Does anyone else do this? Is it just me?

It feels totally vulnerable to admit to these thoughts. Mostly because I feel like I’m way too nice of a person to say things like this, and that’s true! I would never talk to someone else like this! I have all the grace in the world for other people — they’re human, they’re in process, they’re doing the best they can.

But I am the exception, the lucky winner that gets to be the object and source of all of my disdain, and it wasn’t until a girlfriend of mine uttered one simple sentence that I realized how ludicrous this whole thing really is.

We were getting ready to go to dinner, when I peered into the mirror and let one of my thoughts accidentally slip out. “I can’t believe I let myself gain so much weight. Seriously, I’m so big, I look terrible, and the worst part is that it’s my fault! If I was just more disciplined and not so lazy, I wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with.”

Mean, right? I still can’t believe I said it out loud, but I’m so glad I did, because my friend didn’t skip a beat. She didn’t ask for clarification or sweep it cleanly under the rug. She turned to me with glowering eyes and snapped, “Don’t talk about my friend that way.”

I was instantly both so embarrassed I could disappear and so grateful I could cry. I felt caught red-handed, and heroically defended all at once. I was the attacker and the victim. She was coming to my defense, ready to fight the one who was hurting my feelings, knowing full well that the assailant was me.

As we drove to dinner, we talked about the way we all talk to ourselves sometimes. “We think we get a free pass to be cruel because we’re being cruel to ourselves. But we don’t get a free pass to treat anyone that way, and we shouldn’t have to put up with treatment like that from anyone, especially not ourselves.”

She was right. Of course she was right. And her words have stuck with me ever since.

There are enough naysayers in the world, and the more I’ve thought about this, I’ve realized that I don’t want to be another one.

At least we can get away from the naysayers, but we’re stuck with ourselves. If we’re our own worst critic, we’re stuck with our own worst critic right there in our ear. Every time we brush our teeth, every time we take a chance at work, every time we fall asleep, she’s there, telling us we’re not good enough, that we should be different or that we’re a disappointment.

And I’ve just decided I don’t want to play that game anymore.

Life is far too hard, and far too short to be our own worst critics, and it never seems to help us get better anyway. Good things don’t come out of shame; good things come out of kindness, support, and encouragement.

So these days, I try to talk to myself the way I would a friend:

“Good job, sweet girl.”

“You tried, and that’s really saying something.”

“You are beautiful.”

“I’m so proud of you.”

Maybe you are never your own worst critic, and if that’s true, I want to give you a hug and a high five and ask you to teach us all of your ways. But if you are, if the thoughts in your head speak to you this way sometimes, let me grab them by their collar, look them straight in the eye, and say, “Don’t talk about my friend that way!” You don’t deserve to be treated that way, not even by yourself.

Take some time this week to start paying a bit more attention to your thoughts. What kinds of things are you saying to yourself throughout the day? Are you your own worst critic, or do you talk to yourself like a friend? Let’s start paying a bit more attention, and start making intentional choices with our thoughts. Let’s start talking to ourselves the way we would a friend.

You love her already, don’t you? Click here to order the books!

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Hope this added a little happy to your Monday. xo

she reads truth—the book!

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It’s no secret that the She Reads Truth community is my favorite place to hang out on the internet. Yes, it is my job, but, wow, is it my joy.

Two Septembers ago, after a few months working virtually for the SRT team, I accepted a full-time position (the first one they ever offered!) and moved to Nashville. Although I hadn’t yet met SRT’s co-leaders Raechel and Amanda face-to-face before I moved, I didn’t need to. I knew them, in the same way I still love but have yet to meet millions of “Shes” who Read Truth with us every day. We were kindred bystanders of watching God at work in His people. And it was beautiful.

Just before I made the move to Nashville, She Reads Truth secured their first-ever office—a 10’ by 10’ space for packing and shipping and emailing. My first few days working in that office are still some of my all-time favorites, spent answering messages and packing orders while listening to Broadway tunes with my new friend Rebecca. Things were finally falling into place following a summer filled with uncertainties and shame about not having an immediate full-time job like many of my friends. My Nashville apartment was perfect, tucked just between the city bustle and open farmland. Everything about my life was suddenly different, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. His truth was so true!

One morning, just four weeks after I made the big move, I was passing my new favorite piece of farmland on my route to work when I got the news. There had been an accident. My kind-hearted, brilliant-minded, best-friend-of-a-brother was gone.

I did the only thing I knew to do, which was keep driving. I ended up at my original destination—that sweet 10’ x 10’ office—simply because I was unable to do anything else. Raechel drove me back to my apartment to pack my things, while the rest of the team made arrangements for me to go home. (I can never, ever thank the Lord enough for the grace He showed me through this team that day. But that’s another story for another day.)

Raechel patiently stood in my doorway as I rummaged through my closet, looking for my black dress. I’d never hated a piece of clothing more.

I was sickeningly shocked, forgetting to breathe and taking large gulps of air when I could. My brain spun around the hope I was supposed to find in my faith, but it seemed beyond reach.

I turned to Raechel. “I know you’ve experienced pain like this. What will happen to me? Will I ever feel joy again?”

She thought quietly before breathing the only words of hope I could grasp:

“Redemption is His specialty.”

In the hours that followed, I returned to my childhood home, where everything was suddenly different, and I couldn’t have been more sick. Yet, His truth was true.

Two years later, I live in a new apartment, but still in Nashville. She Reads Truth has a new office, but the same encouraging community. My parents no longer live in that house, but we still miss my brother as much as we did that terrible day. Praise the Lord, His truth is still true.

It is my true joy to introduce you to She Reads Truth—the book!—by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams. Officially titled She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That’s Passing Away, this book is thoughtfully designed and beautifully written. A double memoir of sorts, Raechel and Amanda share their vastly different stories to highlight the truth that remains the same in both of them—God’s Word. 

“She wants faith, hope, and love.
She wants help and healing.
She wants to hear and be heard, to see and be seen.
She wants things set right.

She wants to know what is true—not partly true, or sometimes true, or almost true. She wants to see Truth itself, face-to-face. But here, now, these things are all cloudy. Hope is tinged with hurt. Faith is shaded by doubt. Lesser, broken things masquerade as love.”

This book dug deep into my grief and held my heart up to truth. Many books send me running to find more from the author, stalking their instagram page or website for more. This one sent me chasing down the Author of Life, seeking His goodness in ways I’d never considered. Their words make much of His, and for that, I am so grateful.

Redemption is His specialty. Hallelujah.

She Reads Truth releases on 10/4, and is now available for preorder wherever books are sold. Order from your favorite retailer, screenshot your receipt, then upload it at SheReadsTruthBook.com for super fun freebies!
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