I strongly believe that you are not defined by your past or your lifelong struggles. Yet many of us find our identity in these things. I did for a long time.
Some of you know me and some of you don't. But let me tell ya, I had a huge fall from grace years ago. I mean massive. I disappointed every last soul that knew me and loved me. It spiraled me into a difficult place that left me feeling like I had literally ruined my life and those around me. That may sound overly dramatic, but it's the truth. I felt I was in a place that I could never come out of. A place of shame and guilt.
It was if I took a sharpie pen, got one of those sticky labels you wear when your a kid with your name on it, and I wrote the word, "Failure" on mine and slapped it dead center on my chest for all the world to see. This was my new identity, I thought. This was who I was. A failure. A disgrace. An embarrassment.
I wore that label for years. I even felt like people needed to know this about me so they could then decide if they wanted to be associated with me or not. "Hi, my name's Melissa. I'm a complete failure and screw up. You need to know this right off the bat so if you want to go ahead and walk away now I will understand."
I don't know how many years I went on believing this and keeping this label on myself. And I honestly don't know when it was that I finally ripped that label off of my chest and threw it away. Or better yet, I took that sharpie and crossed out the word "Failure" and wrote instead "Favored". Because that's how God views me. He favors me. (and you too) He actually DESIRES to use me and He CHOOSES me because I was BROKEN and SHATTERED. That's an amazing truth to realize.
I think the moment I realized this, was when I heard the pastor at our wedding, read to me the vows that Mike had written personally to me. In those vows, he said his desire for me was to never feel shackled by my past, but to feel free from it. (I'm not getting the words just right but that was the idea!) That was a pivotal point in my life. It was if I was getting permission to put all of that behind me and to no longer be defined by it. Wow. Still gives me chills.
This was not an overnight process for me. This was an everyday, taking one step in front of the other, doing what needed to be done to move away from that label and to instead DEFINE MY FUTURE.
This has to be intentional. It doesn't happen magically or on its own. You have to, with intent, move forward and decide WHO you really want to be and HOW you want to live. I wanted to define my future. I wanted to be an exceptional mother and wife and person and to make a positive impact in this world. I wanted to have a healthy body and mind and to be remembered someday as being someone who helped and encouraged others to do the same and live their best life.
I'm still defining my future. Every single morning, I sit down and write out my 10 dreams/goals for my life and the life of my family. (pictured below) It's the same 10. And I write them out in a notebook everyday. I write them as if they are already happening, in present tense. I believe doing this is a way to mold my brain into accepting these things as both possible and as things that WILL happen in the right timing.
I do this because I've learned that the biggest obstacle in our life that is holding us back is our mind. I once read in a book "The only real asset you have is your mind. It's all we have dominion over." We CAN control what we think and believe about ourselves. Have you been overweight most of your life? Can you even imagine yourself healthy? Have you struggled with depression or anxiety for years and can't imagine a life without it? Do you feel like a failure and a disappointment? Have you tried for years without success to get that big promotion or to take that big step in your career? If you can't envision it, if you can't even see it in your mind, then you'll never believe it. Try writing out what it is you want for yourself. Write it out in present tense as if it is already taking place. Or say it over and over throughout the day. "I am healthy and fuel my body with nutrient dense food that makes me feel great." "I am a gift to those around me and I encourage others when they feel down." "I have many unique talents and success comes easy to me."
I am living my best life today. I can't even believe how far I have come and the amazing feats I have accomplished. I am an incredible mom who spends quality time with my kids and we have a beautiful, open line of communication in which they come to me and talk to me about ANYTHING. I am a positive and supportive wife who is faithful and selfless to my husband and he appreciates everything about me. I am a successful business woman who is running multiple businesses that are all growing and flourishing. I am a healthy woman who appreciates her body and makes good choices for what I fuel it with and how I move and exercise. I am a chosen and favored child of God who is being used daily to encourage and uplift those who need to be lifted and are struggling. Life is good. But I made it that way. It wasn't easy. It was a long journey. But here I am. And it only gets better from here.