i am (not) third

I struggle to make myself a priority. Ever. I know we are called to put others first, to love sacrificially, and to serve others rather than ourselves. The belief in those things developed in me the heart of a missionary and made me an empathetic leader.

But I’ve taken those truths to an untrue extreme.

As a child I wore a necklace with a “3rd” pendant. It served as a simple reminder that Jesus is first, others are second, and I am third. A healthy and Biblical way to approach life—when taken in the right context.

But somehow in the context of my own mind and heart, it became unhealthy.

It developed an inability to know who I am, and to give my own needs and desires any priority. It morphed me into a woman who has difficulty asserting myself, voicing an opinion, and making a decision that benefits me. It’s made me incredibly uncomfortable in situations where all eyes are on me or I’m forced to be the center of attention (even when it’s supposed to be a good thing). It’s formed the blanket of apology I’ve carried around my entire life.

I’m calling a moratorium on all this I am third crap.

It needs to stop.

I’m learning that putting me first is sometimes the best decision I can make. That it’s healthy to stand on my own two feet and be my own person. That I am enough.

I know there needs to be a balance. I certainly don’t intend to become arrogant, selfish, and unable to see or meet the needs of others in my journey to value myself more. The line between the two may be fine and, at times, difficult to discern, but there remains a line there nonetheless. And I intend to find it.

While this paradoxical statement may not make sense outside my own brain, this is how I’m choosing to live my life from now on:

I will always put others first, but I will no longer put myself last.