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.

no matter how beautiful

Recently someone told me I seemed European. When my face scrunched up into a question mark, he explained:

"You're so confident and self-assured. You're not insecure like most American women seem to be."

I about choked on my breadstick. I wanted to look over my shoulder and find the woman he was really talking to, because there's no way that description fits me. Definitely the wrong size. Send it back for a refund!

I laughed and said, "Really?!" My voice went up about 6 octaves at the end of that one word. (I was dripping with European self-assuredness!)

While I still think what he said was a bit far-fetched---he's not called Jack the Wack for nothin'---I also know that others see in me things I don't see in myself. Even more, I know that God sees in me so much more than I see in myself.

I want eyes to see those things.

Not so I can pat myself on the back. Or walk with my chest out. (Although I could definitely use better posture.) Or even so I can feel better about myself.

I want eyes to see those things because He put them in me. And to ignore them, or worse, never even uncover them, would be a slap in His face.

Today I am praying, "Lord, help me to realize the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is."