Hey You: To The Girl Losing the Comparison Game


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“I’m not gonna care if I sing off key/I find myself in my melodies/I sing for love, I sing for me/I shout it out like a bird set free,” -Sia, Bird Set Free

“I’m stupid,” the six year old in front of me says, tongue-in-cheek. I’m not her mother and I’m not her aunt, but I know a lie when I hear one. These lies start young, seep in wherever they can, whenever they can. And they’re out to take your joy, your life, and your purpose.

The lie is one that I know so well, I stop immediately, get on eye level and ask, “Hey, would you say that about someone else?”

“No,” she says carefully.

“Then why would you say that about yourself?”

“I don’t know.”

“Here’s what we’re going to do. I want you to name three things that you like about yourself.”

She thinks for a second, “I’m smart, nice, and pretty…”

“Beautiful,” I prompt.

She smiles and agrees, “Beautiful.”

The picture above? It’s mine. My name is pressed into everything about it. But it wasn’t perfect, so I destroyed it. I do that sometimes. I think we all do sometimes. I don’t know about you, but some days I just can’t take another reminder hanging on my wall that represents everything I’m not. The truth? I don’t like limitations. I don’t like being told I can’t do something or a dream isn’t realistic. It’s in the moments and spaces where I collide with limitations that I get defensive and upset.

Truth be told, my heart has been so steeped in the lie that nothing I do will ever be enough that it’s become the perspective I operate out of. You would know if you stepped too close to it–this heart murmur of mine–because it’s in the moments I overreact, start to cry, or get really quiet because you just stepped on faith wound central. In those moments, I just want you to leave. Say hello to the ghosts on the way out, but get out. Don’t get too close.

I don’t even like sharing this picture. I never want to look at it again, to be honest with you. Yes, it’s mine. No, I’m not an artist BY ANY MEANS. It was supposed to be a dandelion and it was supposed to be pretty. I was okay with the result, happy with the work–until it got down to the little details I didn’t know how to paint. It wasn’t enough that I’d never been taught or had any practice–because she could have done it without practice. They could have done it. It’s like a broken record that plays over and over until there’s nothing left of me.

She could have done better,” it’s a whisper on a mission, the lie that curls around me until it’s all I see. It’s the lie that causes me to put the brush down, put away the paint, rip apart the canvas, drop everything and grab the keys, do what I do best–run. I’m always running because if I sit down with the lie that tells me I’m not enough–what I do isn’t enough–I might actually find out it was truth the whole time. I might actually find out that I really am not special or worthy or beautiful. If I face the lie, fight the lie, I might lose.

I think about grades. I think about social status. I think about relationship status. I think about appearance. I think about talent. I think about intuition. I think about wages. I think about purpose. I think  about pictures on social media. But mostly, I think about how I’ll never compare–never compete. It all wells up until I don’t know what else to do but get angry that I’m not special like her, that I’m special like me and somehow it’s not enough.

The thing about lies is that they’re fueled by fear. As long as fear is involved, the lies win. We never fight for what truth says about us when fear keeps us believing that the lies define us. Too curvy. Too skinny. Too dark. Too light. Too curly-headed. Too thin-haired. Too much. Too little. Too unintelligent. Too intelligent. Too loud. Too quiet. Too unlovable. But really what we’re scared of is that we’re too broken to ever be of any value. Really…what we’re scared of is someone else’s purpose actually does matter more. 

But the other thing about lies is that all they’re out to do is steal. They don’t just leave casualties–they’re out to annihilate everything about you that’s meant to do good in this world. When I look back on all that the lies have stolen from me, the cost is steep. I’ve been spending all my time sitting on the sidelines, making excuses, because I believed I wasn’t good enough to get in the game. This whole time my job really was to show people who Amanda Russell is by developing my own strengths and playing them to the best of my ability: my writing abilities, my humor, my social skills, my love for adventure, my love for life, my love for people.

By focusing on my lack of artistic skills, I’m going nowhere. 

We need to learn how to speak kindly to ourselves. In my heart of hearts, I know that healing is a Jesus-thing and nothing less. Only He can fill you up again. We need to learn to see ourselves as He sees us: worthy, loved, beautiful, purposed. You weren’t placed on a shelf. You were placed in a story. You have a say and you have a story and if you were to go or decide to sit on the sideline, the world would never recover from the loss. You might be sitting there and thinking that’s a pretty radical statement, but I’m standing by it. If there was no you, the whole world would miss out on the things only you can create.   We need you to be you.

So here’s what I’m thinking, babe. How about I root for you and you root for me? How about we build each other up? How about we help each other face the lies? How about we point out the things that make each other unique? How about we make conversations empowering and supportive? Because this lie is powerful and it’s out for blood. It’s out to take away everything good and beautiful about you. It might take going back to the very root of the comparison lie and digging it up. It might take killing it with hard and specific conversations about where you’re at on the self-worth scale.

But you know what?

It definitely takes us looking out for the lies in other people. It takes us getting down on eye level and saying specifically, “Why would you say that about yourself?” If we do this for six year olds, we need to do this for ourselves and for each other. We have to stop the competition. The guy you’re both going for isn’t worth it. The promotion you’re both shooting for isn’t worth it. The beauty contest isn’t a thing. Nothing that requires stepping over other people or stepping all over yourself is worth it.

At the end of the day, be the best you can be and drop the rest at the door. Let it go.

So here’s what we’re going to do. I want you to repost this and name 3 beautiful things about yourself that you like. I’ll go first:

1.) I like that I’m kind.

2.) I like that I’m real with people.

3.) I like that I’m funny.

Campfire Chat: Without Borders.


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“That’s what storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again.” -Saving Mr. Banks

Hey, hey, readers!

Today I wanted to kind of clear up a few misconceptions about personal blogging, particularly when it comes to my blog, and discuss the general trajectory of Not Your Average Coffee Bean. So grab a coffee and cop a squat, kids!

I’ve been pretty quiet on most levels of social media lately. And that’s fully my bad. I think sometimes when I know I have important work to do, I kind of shut down and do nothing. That’s a fight I’ve had so far and that will probably continue. But I know that I want to write–I know that’s what I’m here to do, so I’m trying to breathe VERY deeply and let my prayer be this…

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”-Hillsong

I mean, snap. Without borders. Few people realize this about me, but I’m actually pretty insecure about my writing. There are just so many words I want to say and so many things I feel and I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND. To be there with me. And that’s where the deep, honest writing comes from: having this constant desire to be understood. Not necessarily seen, but understood. And oftentimes when I publish a blog post, I sit around tapping my fingers and checking Facebook every ten seconds.

DID THEY SEE IT.

DID I POST IT AT THE RIGHT TIME.

DO THEY LIKE ME.

DID I SAY IT RIGHT.

NO ONE LIKED IT. OH NO IT’S AWFUL.

But what if. . .I kept writing real, honest posts. . .but had peace in who I am and what I’m saying? What if I walked with Jesus as much as I talk about Him? Can you imagine what that would look like? Writing and living like that opens doors and effects change. Man. That’s the writer I want to be.

That’s what I’m working towards. But I don’t think many of you realize quite where I’m wanting to take this blog or why I’m even blogging in the first place. So here are three myths along with the perspective in regards to Not Your Average Coffee Bean and an action plan to keep you up to date! If you have any questions or advice, please comment or email me at manderssss22@gmail.com.

(Lord, help me to not suck at replying. Amen. Praise hands. All that.)

Myth #1: Reading personal blogs is kind of like reading someone’s diary. . .

Not Your Average Coffee Bean perspective: Oh honey. You couldn’t handle my diary. If I’m posting something on the internet, let alone SOCIAL media. . .read it. I want you to read it. I wrote it thinking of you or even just wanting you to understand something about me.

Myth #2: Sharing someone’s post is just so awkward. What if I’m crossing a line?

Not Your Average Coffee Bean perspective: THIS THOUGHT IS THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. I want you to share, share, share. My goal is to be an author and this blog is one of the methods I’ve chosen to expand my audience so that when a book is born there will be people to read the book. (Other than my mother.) My personal belief is that my product is the writing I do and I’ll never get to where I want to go if I just sit in a basement like a creeper and write prose that no one ever reads. And to be honest, I need you. I can’t grow as a writer without you reading, providing feedback, and sharing.

Myth #3: No one wants to read posts that are stories. I can’t share that because no one else would be interested.

Not Your Average Coffee Bean perspective: Look. Storytelling is my profession. That’s what I’m here to do and it’s the only way I know how to say, “Everything is going to be okay.” And I’m here to tell you that. So if one of my posts reaches you, there’s a solid chance it will reach someone else on your newsfeed too. Don’t be afraid to post things that are on your heart because there’s always someone in the dark who needs to be shown little patches of light every now and then. Even if you don’t resonate with anything I say, I hope I at least encourage you to share your own story. Storytelling saves lives. Even the gospel, the greatest story told, is in storytelling format–it’s not salvation in three easy steps or a list of things to do. It’s there to say, “I love you. This is what I did for you. Come home. Drop everything and trust me.”

As for the future of this blog, I hope that Not Your Average Coffee Bean goes places. I hope it reaches people. I’ve begun the process of being an affiliate blogger, so you’ll be seeing new ads on my blog. But my goal is to keep everything on track with the voice I’ve already developed and keep my blog clutter-free. My second goal is to increase traffic by using social media to engage other bloggers and readers, which is a little daunting with all the info out there. But onward and upward!

. . .I recognize that I’m a dork. . .

And finally, my third goal is to get to the point where I’m posting three times a week. For now I’m lucky if I get one post in a week, but I’m in this writing thing for life and there are always, always things to improve.

Finally, what would you like to read about? Please comment below or send me an email. All suggestions are more than welcome!

As always, thank you for reading. ❤ ❤ ❤ <—I love you enough to do cheesy 2010-style virtual hearts.

-Mandie

 

F O U N D


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I found my voice in brambles and thorns,
It sat in deepest forest, buried low,
I heard it crying, though no one was around,
It sobbed and fought the silence,
But no one heard a sound,
I sat there and I listened,
Though not for me it cried,
Nor for the life I had,
The rain came soon and its cries grew,
They grew until it was silent-
Fear and pain the only melody it knew.
Suddenly I had no choice,
I rose.
And dug it out of the mud,
I turned it in my hand, saw how it fit,
How could something fit so well,
But hurt so bad?
I tucked it away and whispered,
If nothing else, I hear you,
If nothing else, I won’t leave,
If nothing else, we’re together,
If nothing else, you’re found.
And so, in brambled wood we sit,
Making nothing but our sound.
-Amanda Russell