Inside: When you’re feeling especially parched, summon up the courage to accept yourself and say, “I am a masterpiece.” This is a guest post by Anne McOmber of Simplicity Avenue. This post contains referral links.
With a paint brush in one hand and a pale wooden vehicle in the other, his 6-year-old body sat hunched over in the corner of the kitchen, silent and focused.
I’m not sure how long he sat like that, my little artist lost in his work. But when he emerged he proudly held a bright red monster truck, still shining with wet paint, high in the air. “I love it, bud!” I said, as I admired his latest project. To which he replied (without any hesitation whatsoever), “I told you I’m a masterpiece!”
I’ve made it a habit of writing down things like these. Sweet (and often silly) phrases that would only come from a child’s lips. Phrases that – as much as I think I won’t – I’ll forget and want to remember again one day.
But even after the words “I am a masterpiece” made their way into my journal, they came back to my mind over and over. For days I smiled and savored this innocent and excited burst of self acceptance from my little guy. And like a lost treasure floating to the surface, the hidden wisdom of his words slowly settled in my heart.
My sweet boy (and daughter too) is a masterpiece. Any mother knows the truth of that about her babies – whether they’re still little enough to be snuggled in her arms or are grown with a few babies of their own. But how does he know with such certainty that he is a divine creation capable of incredible things (truck-painting included)?
I couldn’t possibly say for certain but I think it has something to do with the fact that he sees not only himself but his life and world as the masterpiece that it is.
He (and every other child that’s come through my life) finds wonder and happiness in the smallest, simplest of things. He joyfully makes every “one more minute” count. He doesn’t question that he’s worthy of love. And he gladly gives love right back – even when my sometimes grumpy, impatience doesn’t deserve it.
I’m convinced he lives life to the fullest because he’s so full of life.
Which is probably why you and I – in all of our overwhelm, regret and self-doubt – sometimes find it difficult to live with the wonder and fullness that our accepting children do. It’s hard, after all, to live a life full of meaningful moments when we’re parched and empty.
So how do we “fill our buckets,” as someone said to me recently, and see ourselves as the masterpieces we are?
Because it seems to me that finding goodness in the everyday moments, in some way or another, requires seeing the goodness in ourselves.
I’m certainly no stranger to self-doubt and my bucket appears closer to empty than full more often than I’d like, but let me suggest a few remedies for “parched” and “empty” to put you and I on the path to fullness.
3 WAYS TO FILL YOUR BUCKET and ACCEPT YOURSELF
PATCH THE HOLES
We all have them – things that make us feel small, that is. Perhaps it’s a peer or relative that’s toxic and degrading or a social media account that not only sucks away time but self worth as well.
Maybe it’s the pair of jeans in your closet that remind you you’re not the “right” size. Or maybe it’s a closet mostly deprived of jeans, as is my case, reminding you that there’s no place for stylish jeans in your homebound (and often bed-bound) life.
These things in our lives that we give so much power to are draining our buckets. Fast. And unless we get rid of them, filling our buckets is about as productive as bailing water from a leaky boat. No matter how fast you bail, the boat’s gonna sink.
We may not be able to remove every puncture or repair every hole. There will always be unexpected criticism and comparison that drain our buckets, after all. But awareness brings clarity. And with clarity comes confidence. So take a good look at your bucket, understand where the water’s draining, then decide what can be done to fix it. Those things that bring so much negativity to your viewpoint… learn to ignore them or, preferably, let them go.
Otherwise, no matter how much you dump into your bucket, it’ll still wind up empty.
DITCH THE UMBRELLA
It’s funny, really, what we chase in order to fill our buckets. In my school years it was the number of friends I had. As a young mom, it was involvement in play groups and lunch dates. And today, I chase a family camping trip free of a wheelchair and piggyback rides from my husband.
I say it’s funny because all these things we’re convinced will let us accept ourselves are, in truth, inconsistent and unreliable. Mostly because they will forever be out of our control. And funnier still because while we chase popularity, personal accomplishments, reassurance from a spouse or child, or validation from a friend we miss the love that’s already pouring down all around us.
A kind, unexpected text from a friend, a phrase from a book the speaks comfort to your soul, a smile from a stranger, a song with just the right message at just the right time. Like raindrops falling from the sky, they’re small but countless. And when I take the time to notice, I’m left with one certainty. Each tiny miracle, each tender mercy, holds a heavenly bucket-filling message: You are loved.
It may seem like a good idea to stay sheltered in the rainstorm. But the trouble is it’s hard to fill a bucket that’s covered by an umbrella. So while we stubbornly seek for the ever-elusive pools of water to fill our buckets, we walk around in the rain (getting thirstier by the minute) – an umbrella in one hand, our near-empty bucket in the other – while water freely falls from the sky all around us.
I’ll certainly take all the cupfuls of love and acceptance my husband, kids, friends, or family will give me. But at the end of the day, I’m trying to remember that my bucket will fill a whole lot faster when I’m not chasing love and acceptance, but catching what’s already pouring from heaven.
All the good things, the happy coincidences, the hidden blessings, the meaningful moments…
Let them fall, drop by drop, and fill you up.
BE A FILLER-UPPER
I’ll always remember the moment I realized that – despite my new limitations – I had something to offer. I had a unique light inside of me that was capable to brightening someone else’s. I’d lost a lot in the past few years – my ability to drive, dance, and even shower on my own for heaven’s sake! But somehow that light managed to stay with me. Forgotten perhaps. But never lost.
There’s a unique light within you too. And learning how you shine best… well, that may be the greatest discovery you’ll ever make. For yourself and for every other person’s bucket you’ll fill with that light that is uniquely and purposefully yours to uncover, grow and spread.
I’ll admit it can be hard to fill someone else’s bucket, especially when you’re feeling so empty it hurts. But if you can set aside your own bucket for a while and get to work filling all the half-empty buckets around you pretty soon that light within you will go from a soft glow to a beaming lighthouse.
And when you come back, don’t be surprised if you find your bucket’s full too.
YOU ARE A MASTERPIECE
A TANGLE OF BOTH STRENGTH AND STRUGGLE
In many ways it’s a mystery why we so easily accept our inevitable faults and flaws yet resist to accept our own gifts and goodness. As Krista says so beautifully in her Show Up Afraid course, “We label and judge and limit ourselves, forgetting that we’re a messy tangle of both strength and struggle.”
So when life’s not feeling quite as full and happy as you’d like it to, perhaps you might try doing some filling up of your own, from the inside out.
Let go of the things that tear you down and leave you doubting, soak in the hidden gifts of love all around you, then brighten someone else’s life with that unique light within you.
And maybe every once in a while, when you’re feeling especially parched, summon up the courage to say to yourself, “I am a masterpiece.”
To which I’ll reply (without any hesitation whatsoever): Yes, dear friend, I couldn’t agree more.
Anne McOmber inspires others to live a brave, beautiful life even and especially when life hands us the unexpected. She’s the author of 52 Meaningful Moments and shares her heart and hope at Simplicity Avenue, where the road to refocusing on what matters most is a bumpy but beautiful one.