A couple months ago I picked up a new book, just one of many I borrowed for a little spring break read-a-thon.

When I look back on that sunny afternoon, I can’t remember how I happened upon this book. Was it on my Goodreads to-read list? Was it recommended by someone? Was it a random librarian pick, propped on the end of a shelf with a tantalizing cover calling out to me?

I really have no idea.

All I know is, by page thirteen, I was bawling.

when truth makes you leak a little

The book begins with Jake Palmer, a driven, ultra-confident, corporate speaker, preparing to give his signature talk. He begins the introduction like he has so many times before — slamming a large, dark green, plastic bottle on the podium with a pronouncement:

We have a problem. We are the bottle. Each of us . . . . [but] It’s extremely difficult to read the label when you’re standing inside the bottle.

He explains we don’t often see the truth of who we are and what kind of impact we have on those around us. We simply can’t see ourselves clearly. And so we fall into one of these categories:

  1. the people that go through life worried that what’s written on their bottle is a list of faults, mistakes, and regrets.
  2. the kind of people who easily see what’s on the bottles of others (with all their talents and influence) but fail to see anything remarkable about ourselves.
  3. or, scariest of all . . .

the people who know what’s on their label, or maybe used to know, but they’ve forgotten, or they’ve gone into hiding. They won’t let people see their strengths any longer, because something has frightened them, or a personal crisis has taken them out of the arena, or they’re too ashamed of something they’ve done, or something has happened that has made them scared to show people who they really are. (pg 12)*

Aaaaand, cue the waterworks.

figuring out the leakage

Ever had a moments when you’re not even sure why tears are streaming down your face? Yeah, this wasn’t one of those moments.

I knew.

The truth I read reverberated through my soul that day. It was the final quote that got me, because I know.

I know what it’s like to long to be fully known and accepted.
I know what it’s like to be afraid to admit the truth about yourself.
I know what it’s like to share something authentically — and then be reprimanded or teased till your heart hearts. You learn to hide.
And I know what it’s like to worry day in and day out that you’re not good enough – even when you’re working hard for Jesus.

I used to live this way every single day.

Maybe you’re familiar with this ache too?

learning to manage

When we learn to hide parts of ourselves, a deep ache grows inside. You masterfully squash your longings and shield your true feelings. You put on the masks and hide till you barely remember what it means to say what you think or figure out what you want or pursue what you love. Life has convinced you it’s not okay to be you — even in the best family or Christian circles.

And when we hide long enough, all that’s left is MANAGING.

Managing expectations
Managing schedules
Managing opinions
Managing reactions
Managing emotions
Managing what “they” think of me . . .

the problem with management

The problem is: MANAGEMENT IS A FULL-TIME JOB!

Whether we like it or not. Eeeerrrgg.

Managing people, expectations, opinions–and everything else–demands so much time and energy, you have little to spare. Managing means you’re eventually crushed by a responsibility that can only leave you feeling dissatisfied, overwhelmed, inadequate, guilty.

And in the quiet, end-of-day whispers—the rare, stolen, thinking times—you wonder how did I manage to end up here . . . .

holding onto hope

What if life didn’t have to taste like cardboard?

What if you could be fully known and fully loved — and give up the masks for good?

What if you could get back to the place where you know what you want? Release responsibility for what “they” think? Remember who you are?

What if you could leave guilt and insecurity behind and truly experience God’s love and acceptance on a daily basis?

Wouldn’t that be adventure worth pursuing? Life worth finding?

This is the kind of life Jesus meant in John 10:10: “I am come that they might have life more abundant.”

There is great hope.

You can stop living small and afraid. You can become the spiritually vibrant woman God created you to be.

You can actually enjoy LIVING instead of managing. (John 10:10)

You can be so comfortable in your own skin that you no longer worry what’s written on your bottle anymore because you know that you know that you know what matters most of all — who you are in Christ.

With the help of Jesus and His grace.

*Quoted from The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart

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