Monday, February 22, 2016

Getting to "Good Enough"

Lately I have been learning and trying to practice this concept of "good enough".

You see, I am a perfectionist.  Meaning, it is extremely hard for me to switch tasks until the one I have started is perfect.  Thus, what takes some 1 hour may take me 3 hours. I can get lost in little, insignificant details easily. Additionally, because my mind is set on perfection, I often procrastinate because I am afraid of failing... and by failing, I mean not being or doing something perfect.  Oh, I almost forgot; I also tend to set unrealistic goals for myself. Now, I'm a believer in pushing yourself and never giving up, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about literally setting unrealistic goals (example: I will lose 25 pounds by next week) I also tend to run low on patience, I need everything to happen NOW. And as you may can tell, I am my harshest critic. 

I was talking to a mentor a few weeks ago and she said something that touched my soul.  She said "Brenda, you have to find what good enough is for you, because you can't be perfect, you will fail every time and be miserable your whole life." It sounded great, but in my head I thought "I don't do this good enough thing... it's either perfect or its not".  She told me to take some time and define what good enough looks like for me in every area of my life and then strive for that each day. Ironically, I put that task on my already overstuffed to do list.  Her idea sounded great, but as soon as I left I quickly was consumed trying to sort out how to accomplish all the tasks on my to do list, and of course do them perfectly.  I was frustrated to say the least and understandably so. Like always I had piled an unrealistic amount of to dos on my list and was determined to get everything done.  About halfway through the list, and with the early morning hours rapidly approaching, I just gave up. I felt defeated. So I turned on the radio and started winding down for bed.  I had a pen in hand ready to write my to do list for the next day. I really didn't even want to write it because it would have to include all the things that I had failed to do that day plus whatever else I needed to do the next day. I had it visualized in my head and it was long and complex.  Right before I began writing. A song came on the radio, one that I had heard many times but never had payed close attention to the words. Here it is:

Tears filled by eyes.  An enormous burden was lifted.  Instead of writing down my to do list, I just began writing and here is what ended up on the paper:

I found an unexplainable peace.  I found comfort knowing I did not have to be perfect. I also found comfort in knowing that I am loved unconditionally by the one who is perfect.  I sat in awe for a while and then I flipped over the paper and did what my mentor had suggested.  I wrote down what good enough was.  I suggest all you perfectionists out there do the same.  I think good enough is going to look different for everyone.  Don't view it as "settling" because that is not what it is.  It's something to look at when you are having a hard time and realize you did whatever it was good enough, and most importantly that you are good enough.  

Additionally,  I have implemented a few other changes to my thought processes.  

1.  Instead of making a to do list, at the end of the day I write down everything I accomplished.  It always is much more than I thought, and it is both rewarding and satisfying.  (Oh, and it always meets my "good enough" standard.)

2.  At the end of that list, I write down three positive things about myself and three positive things about life.  It sounds silly, but by writing it down, it forces me to stop being so hard on myself.  

3.  At the very bottom of the page, I write down the following:  I am not Perfect. I am Forgiven. 

My prayer for each of you reading this is that you realize how extremely loved you are and not only that you are loved, but that you are forgiven and that perfection is not needed, because we live under grace and mercy.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mile Marker 43

As many are aware, I commute every weekday to Tech law school.  And sometimes the 40 minute commute seems like 3 hours.  Needless to say there isn't much to look at, except for in the mornings when I get to witness God paint the morning sky.  But, other than that its West Texas, it is flat open fields most of the drive.  I am not complaining, it actually gives me lots of time to think and reflect.  Unfortunately, I had not been utilizing that time the best way I could, until yesterday as I passed mile marker 43.

Law school is obviously stressful, you are forced to think in a different way than you ever have before, and you are challenged in ways that you have never been before.  It most certainly is a transition that takes time to get adjusted too.  I quickly found myself overwhelmed and constantly being anxious and playing the "what if's" out in my head over and over again.  I also found that I focused my entire commutes on worrying about stuff that I can't control regarding law school.  For instance, the curve.

For those who don't know about the curve, here is a brief depiction;

Law schools utilize a curve for each class,  the curve is just like a regular bell curve and thus a few people get A's most people get B's and C's and a few get D's.  Obviously, everyone is striving for those A's.  Also, it should be noted that in law school classes you take one exam at the end of the semester and that is your grade.  But, say I made a 93 on the exam, that doesn't mean I get an A.  The curve dictates only so many people can get an A.  Thus, if only 7 people can get an A and there are 7 grades higher than a 93, they get an A, and I more than likely get a B.

So not only have I been worrying about grades, keeping up to date with the demanding readings, trying to transition to legal writing and legal research, but also trying to be the best mom and wife I can be.  It is safe to say I stay busy.  As a matter of fact, the first three weeks of law school I went to sleep at 12:30am and woke up at 4:30 or 5:00am.   Ridiculous, I know.

I got into this vicious cycle of trying to plan my entire day (literally every 30 minutes of my day was planned).  Planning every 30 minutes is pretty stinkin hard, especially when your in law school and the work load is enormous at times.  I quickly found my self constantly thinking and stressing.  My mind stayed in "law school mode" for the first three weeks of school.  My stressing, and thinking of how I could fix my transition became constant, especially during my commutes.  Until yesterday, at mile marker 43.

Yesterday, I felt so troubled by the weight of stress I was carrying, and I began praying. God spoke to me.  I finally just told God, " I can't do this God, I know its your plan, but its too much" and as soon as I finished my sentence relief came over me, I literally felt the stress lifted.  And I had a "duh Brenda" moment.  As I had that moment, I looked up and was passing mile marker 43.

So what was my realization? It was something I already knew but am bad about doing.  Ya see, I always try to fix my problems and other peoples problems.  I also try to control my surroundings to the best of my ability, I always like to have a plan.  Furthermore, I am guilty of trying to take back control from God.  I gave my life, my entire life to him years ago, but time to time human nature gets the best of me and I try to take some control back.  I was reminded Tuesday that, I need to spend more time listening to God's plan, instead of trying to construct my own plan.  I don't know about you, but some of the worst times in my life have been when I tried to follow my own plan.

I kept talking to God, and the more I talked the more I realized.  I realized not only had I not been seeking to find God's plan, but that God wouldn't put me up to something that he wouldn't bring me through.  I also realized instead of stressing about things, I should do as God says and cast my worries and fears upon Him! Not only should I, but God will gladly carry my burdens just as Jesus carried the totality of human sin at the cross!  Since then, I have been well rested, I have been happier, and I have been less stressed!

Today I take comfort knowing that I do not know what all law school will throw my way, but I'm okay with that. Because, just as in any other area of my life, God will be there to pick me up when I fall, to encourage me, to use me to exemplify his love, and nothing can separate me from his love.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dreams really do come true!

July 5th 2014, I married my best friend. And it was absolutely perfect in everyway. It was everything I dreamed of and more. But more importantly the man who was waiting for me at the end of the aisle was too.

Seems like just yesterday I was a little girl fanatisizing about my wedding. I wanted a staircase, a stunning entrance, beautiful friends standing beside me, tons of flowers, and a clear blue sky, close family and friends surrounding me, beautiful chandeliers, bling (and lots of it) Well, dreams come true because that's exactly what I got.  

As I got older, I began thinking more about my husband who would wait for me at the end of the aisle. I created a list of things that he must be. I was encouraged to create this list in youth one year, to spend time with God, and pray about the list, make the list practical, and so on. And so I did. And during my wedding week I located that list and proudly checked off every single "requirement".  

During wedding week DJ and I met with our close friend, and minister Barry Donham to discuss what the wedding would be like, what love is, what marriage means etc. And he gave us a glimpse of what our ceremony would be like. 

July 5th came before I knew it. It was finally  wedding day!  Rehearsal that morning went fantastic and then it was time for DJ to go with his guys and me and my girls to head out for lunch. As I watched DJ leave with his boys I got butterflies, the next time I would see him I would be a bride. It was a really chill day, Olive Garden, getting ready, all of it was laid back. 

My girls were with me while I was getting hair and make up done but I wanted to get into my dress just me and mom. I wanted my girls to have a first look too!  While mom and I were getting ready she gave me some special items. First she showed me the blue heart (for something blue) that was taken from my dad's work shirt. It was tailored into my dress and was so special!!! We put the dress on and she fastened it up and then gave me some very special items to wear. They were all my nana's and that meant so much, she couldn't be there physically but I was able to still have a part of her there with me on my big day.  She placed my nana's diamond watch on my wrist for something old and then placed the diamond stone from from my nana's ring (which was turned into a necklace that my mom wears everyday) for "something borrowed" My earrings, dress and shoes were my " something new" and then my nana's sweet friend June had gave me a six pence for the "six pence in the shoe". It was complete, I now had the "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a six pence in your shoe"

Meanwhile my girls had been outside taking photographs. I have to say my friends are gorgeous. See for yourself! 

The photographer also had went over to the grooms room to snap photographs of  DJ and his "squad" as he would call them haha. 

Timing worked out perfect because by the time I had finished all finishing touches she was ready to photograph my girls first look! 

Then the photographer was ready to capture our first look. I walked out and DJs back was facing me, he was so incredibly handsome. Butterflies filled my tummy and chills swept over me.  I tapped him on his shoulder and he turned around, I was speechless, literally  shaking, fighting back tears, and silently thanking God for picking him for me.  Our eyes met and it was like a slideshow played through my head. The first time we held hands, the first time he said " I love you", him bringing Braylon to the recovery room to see me, the engagement, every big moment flashed through my head in an instant. He said, " your beautiful Brenda" and we embraced one another. It was seriously magical. 

Before I knew it I saw people start filling the seats, and I watched my Nana's beautiful watch tick closer to 7:00. Then the ceremony began. I peeked out to see DJ walk his mom down the aisle and I cried. I Quickly fixed myself up and noticed my wedding planner was motioning for me to make my enterance. And there  I was walking out, down the stairs, my loving dad waiting for me at the end of the staircase ready to walk me down the ailse, about to become a wife.
Our minister welcomed everyone, said the sweetest prayer and then my daddy loaned me to DJ.  (He is real particular that he didn't give me to him, he loaned me too him haha) Can't forget to mention that Braylon joined hands with us at the alter. It wasn't planned but it certainly was perfect!

Then came time for the charge to the bride and groom. Everything he spoke touched us both, and I could feel Gods presence. Everything faded away, It felt like it was Barry, Me, DJ and God. Next, we exchanged vows that DJ and I had written together after lots of thinking and praying.
Then came time for the exchange of rings, Barry (our minister) talked to is about what the rings symbolized and we exchanged rings. 

Then Barry informed our family and friends that DJ and I would be putting together a unity cross and explained what the cross symbolized. (The frame Cross represents the man, his strength and stability. The more intricate cross that goes inside the frame cross represents the woman, her beauty, her delicacy, etc.  The three screws that hold the two together represent the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit and just as they hold the cross together they hold our marriage together.)  He then instructed them that DJ and I would pray together and that they too could pray for us and blessings over our marriage.  Meanwhile the song "God gave me you" played. 

We returned to the alter and Barry gave his closing remarks and pronounced us husband and wife.... And of course told DJ he could kiss his bride!!! 

We exited, as the Johnson family! It hit me, I was married to my soul mate, best friend, high school sweetheart, father of my son, my biggest encourager, comforter and supporter! I finally shared the same last name as my two favorite boys!

And then we joined our friends and family for a fun-filled reception!

After good food, lots of love and laughter we went out to watch the firework show and then on to our sparkler send off!!

And since then, we have lived happily ever after :)