If I could sum up the past few months for me, it would be these words:

Better Now

I’m about a week away from presenting at the conference and at this point I’m not so much as nervous as wanting to get it over with. All this preparation has led to this moment and I’m thankful. 

These past few months have moved at the speed of light. So much has happened in my life over the past year, it’s hard to fathom it all without being in amusement and awe. I’m amused because there have been little moments here and there that have collected themselves over the past few months. You don’t really know how those moments will materialize, let alone understand them until you’re in the thick of them. You learn to either reject or respond.I’m learning not everything that happens to us deserves a reaction, but there are some things that deserve a response. The response doesn’t always have to be verbal, but it does often for me, deserve processing. I can’t explain things that have been said or done to me out of the blue. God and I have had many conversations about these things in private. Not that I ever expect an immediate response from Him, but He does respond. Boy, does He respond.

Things have to happen to gauge where we are with certain people from our past and how those things make us feel in the present. Honestly, when those things happen I laugh. Not because it’s funny, but because I’m the kind of woman now who laughs instead of gets sad.

I’m better now.

Being better means being honest with ourselves. It’s taking an honest look inside our minds and hearts and ripping apart any negative dialogue about who we are and what we’ve been through in the hands of others. It’s the refusal to blame and shame ourselves for it. It’s stopping the “Should haves” and “Could haves” and simply learning to rest in truth instead of resist it.

I’m better now.

Many comments have been made lately about my appearance.

“You’ve lost a lot of weight. I’ve been noticing you. You keep going and come October you’ll have guys falling all over you. You’re beautiful. You look great.”

“You’re a hot Asian. Who wouldn’t want you?”

“Julie, you’re a smart, beautiful woman. Be proud of all you.”

I had lunch with a friend not long ago and I was telling them how I didn’t really like looking at myself in the mirror naked. Their immediate response was “Why?!” “Julie, you’re beautiful! Be proud of every inch and curve.” While all these comments are flattering and encouraging, I don’t really need them anymore to be okay with myself. I’m learning to be okay with myself without affirmation from others. This has taken a lot of time. I think when you’ve spent a majority of your life overweight which I still am, you learn to be okay in your own skin … naked AND clothed.

I’m better now.

Being better is learning the power of “No.” I learned this earlier in the year. Boundaries are a difficult thing to bear for others who live life without fences. I’m learning the closer I am with people, the greater the expectation is of me to bend. The more you bend, the more you’ll eventually break. True friends respect our “No” and don’t take it personal. I got tired of agreeing to do things I didn’t really want to do out of obligation. This eventually leads to manipulation and resentment. We should only say “Yes” to things that produce good fruit in us. If you don’t know what good fruit is, ask yourself how you feel when people request things from you. Are you agreeing because of pride, pressure, or priority?

In the end, the kind of person we decide to be and what we do will affect every area of our life. Always check your heart because everything we do flows from it.

Being better is being bold as a lion in the face of fear and criticism. I’ve had to do things this year that the very idea in the beginning  scared the hell out of me but once it was over, I realized I didn’t have anything to be afraid of.

True courage is doing things afraid regardless of what other people think.

I used to carry around resentment and the silent treatment was my preferred abuse of choice. I didn’t know how to navigate certain aspects of my life so I avoided them. But lately something inside me shifted. I’ve stopped making excuses for hurtful behavior. Maybe it’s all the time I’ve spent in the Word to know God doesn’t want us at conflict with each other. We allow emotions to drive our decisions. This isn’t love and it grieves Him.

Being better is being selfless when your inner dialogue tries to convince you people who hurt you don’t deserve it. It’s removing the negative filter.

What this has meant for me is stopping to see people for who they really are instead of as the enemy. It’s learning to forgive and love because they both go hand in hand. It’s pushing someone who has been hurt by you, not knowing how or why, in a wheelchair in 99 degree weather because it’s right and the kind thing to do. It’s giving a gift when they’ve been silent towards you. It means apologizing even if you didn’t do anything wrong.

It’s more than mere words, it’s love in action.

Life has been weird lately. It’s been a culmination of good and bad, mostly good. Depends which lens you choose to view it. I choose to view it sunny side up. I’m learning not to worry  what everyone is doing and focusing instead of on my own quality of life. I will always be proud of how far I’ve come with my body and with a past that’s both broken and bruised.

But I’m not broken anymore, I’m better.

This is not to say I have all this figured out, I don’t.  I’m still learning. It gets easier with practice, patience, and time. I’ve started writing down three things everyday that have brought me joy. When I focus on those things, all the not so good things fade in the background.

Being better is a choice.

How will you choose?

In Jesus and in love,

Julie