A few months ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s new book, “Fierce, Free and Full of Fire.” This post is the first in a series of posts related to what I took away from reading this book. All quotes are from Jen Hatmaker, unless otherwise noted.
Who am I? This is a question we spend a fair amount of our lives trying to answer. The answer may change over time, but at our core we are the same unique individual we were always created to be. The challenge we face as we go through life is discovering who that person is. As I am watching my own daughter grow into who she is, I have learned that we are each born with our own personalities and preferences.
As we experience the world around us we are taught which parts of who we are are acceptable to society and which parts of us must change in order to fit the mold we are living in. This, dear friend, is why we have such a thing as a “mid-life crisis.” We spend our growing years trying to be accepted into whatever niche we find to be preferred, and by the time we reach mid-adulthood we have lost who we were born to be. In the first section of her book, Jen talks about finding worth in who we are.
i am wired this way
The way we are wired, the way we were created to be, is who we are in our core. Jen reminds us that each of us is created by love, and because we are created by a God who loves us extravagantly. No one is unloveable. Did you hear that? No one. Not me, not you, no one. I’ve spent a lot of my 36 years trying to be who I thought other people wanted me to be, so much so that I’ve shoved that girl who was wired to be silly, optimistic, creative down and told her to shut up. Thankfully, she’s persistent. Jen says, “The deepest parts of who we are rise up. They can’t help it.” Seriously, thank God for that!
I’ve tried to trade that girl for one who takes herself too seriously, worries about what other people think, and as for creativity, forget it! If it’s not perfect, why even start? That creativity muscle? This blog is part of getting it back into shape. If there are any blessings in this pandemic, it is that now I get to stay at home, and that girl is becoming more comfortable hanging out free with the three year old that occupies the house. Last night as I was putting Emma to bed, she was laying there quietly then all of a sudden would be overtaken with the best giggles I’ve ever heard. When I reminded her that it was time for bed, she just said, “sorry Mom.” It was the best, and it took every fiber of my being not to engage in her wild giggles!
rise up, show up
Take a minute to let this sink in: “Having a handle on how you were created to function and flourish is your guide and ultimately, your mooring.” In order for us to function well and to flourish in our one life, we must know who we are and how we are wired. How are we able to advocate for ourselves, know what situations are best or which will stifle us if we do not have a handle on how we are wired. One of the most powerful takeaways for me in the entire book was this little nugget: “We do not need you to be like your neighbor; we already have her. We need you.”
I am wired to be:
i am exactly enough
It’s probably safe to say that all women struggle with “enoughness.” How “us” are we supposed to be? How much space should we occupy? Jen spends this entire chapter teaching us that we are to take up the exact amount of space we were created to occupy. Oftentimes, as women we shrink in order to let someone else be more comfortable. We are expected to shrink or to expand to meet the expectations of others. We may take up “too much” space in one area, yet may be asked to “take up more” space in order to be successful.
mega, modest, mezzo
Jen introduces us to three types of women in this chapter: The Mega, The Modest, and The Mezzo. The Mega women are those women who live larger than life – think Oprah. The Modest women are those who make an impact by their quiet nurturing and support that might go unseen. The Mezzos are in between, connecting and leading in their own communities.
Me? I’m a Modest Mezzo. I’m comfortable leading in front of people but I’d enjoy quietly mentoring just one person just the same. I eagerly work to advocate for our gifted population of students and lead my staff of 30 in ways to bring more equity to our program, and I do it with great passion. At the same time, I enjoy sitting with just a few friends on the patio (or over a Zoom call) supporting one another, or dropping a loaf of bread or fresh baked cookies on someone’s porch. Jen says, “Whatever container you naturally fill is the perfect one.” There is enough room for all of us to take up our perfect amount of space. Let’s recognize that and celebrate each other for who we are and the space we take up!
i am strong in my body
Body image. Negative body image has plagued women (and men) for generations. I have struggled with body image and in fact this is the section that I have procrastinated writing. This particular chapter both infuriated me and made me feel stronger and more confident. Jen tore down the idea that we who struggle with body image are somehow weak, that we are somehow justified in the hatred of the “container” that carries us. Here, she reminds us that there is a multi-billion dollar industry whose goal it is to make us feel this way. Multi-billion dollars. I can’t even imagine what that looks like! The Beauty Industry calls the shots and has changed the “requirements” of what is to be called “beautiful” each generation so much so that we have no chance to “catch up.”
You have your body to thank for every good thing you have ever experienced. She has been so good to you.Jen Hatmaker
Jen offers up this question: “ What would have to happen for us to honor our bodies?…What might it look like if a generation of women started celebrating their outsides on their insides?” Then she drops the mic when she shares a suggestion by Hillary McBride, author of Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image. McBride suggests that if we begin to refer to our bodies as “she” or “her,” we can begin to change our mindsets regarding what we think about our containers.
my body, she is a warrior
When I think of all that my body has carried me through, I realize she is a badass. She has carried me through a childhood full of “I wonder what would happen if..” She has enjoyed countless culinary experiences, and endured an equal amount of weird kitchen experiments. She has built the most wonderful little human I have ever known, and delivered her safely into this world. She fed her, she cuddles her, she kisses boo boos and laughs with little giggles. My body? She is not unlikeable. She is not too much. She is a warrior.
I hope this post has inspired you to find out more. This book is some of Jen’s best work yet. You can find the book on Amazon, and can find more Jen on her website jenhatmaker.com. She also hosts the “For the Love” podcast. Listen wherever you find your podcasts.
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