My Mom saved this letter penned in red, signed with exclamation, archival evidence.
I am a recovering people pleaser and an imperfect perfectionist.
Circa 1/28/88 (My nine-year-old beginnings)
Dear Mom and Dad,
I am sorry for making you so mad about me worrying, because I worry about a lot of things. 1. You are good parents. You do so much for us. I want to do something good, nice, special for you. 2. I worry about Jeffrey. 3. School. 4. growing up. 5. friends. (over)
6. (boys) Now do you understand? I guess it’s just part of growing up. I hope you don’t have to be flurated [frustrated] at me! I love you very much! Mom you are very pretty! Dad you are very handsome! You do the right thing always! I try to be good for you!
Love your daughter
I hope to bring encouragement to others through honesty. Honesty that I have squandered large portions of my life being irrationally fearful. I fear:
1. That people are mad at me.
2. That I give advice and that I didn’t give advice. Saying the little word, no. NO= people might be mad.
3. That sometimes I don’t return my cart to the corral at the store and that makes me a very bad person.
4. That my alarm won’t go off. I push one dot, two dots, at least twenty times every night.
5. That I spoke an errant word during a telephone call or a conversation.
6. That people are mad at me.
7. That I will mess up my kids. Confession: Sometimes I fall asleep when they watch a movie, I feed them the forty cent macaroni and cheese, and sometimes I am impatient.
8. That I will let someone down, that I will bring disappointment.
9. That other girls might not like me if I am thin. They might not like me if I wear jewelry, sunglasses, or anything else that can be perceived pretentious on me. They might not like me if I dress trendy. They especially won’t like me if I say what I am feeling honestly. (Residual adolescent fears lingering into adulthood.)
10. The snake building at the zoo. (An enclosed space full of slithering snakes, my goodness, it is the absolute worst.)
11. That people won’t know God because church has been unkind. That people suffer.
12. My family being all right, especially when they are driving.
13. That I have made mistakes. These tiny details keep me awake at night.
14. People will find me dull because no words surface sometimes. That people I meet will think I am aloof. I fear that this makes me the worst pastor’s wife in the World.
15. As a child I feared that our house would catch on fire. I practiced in my mind, opening my second-floor screen and leaping to the nearest branch, that was not particularly near, and hanging there until I could jump onto the fireman trampoline. That the car I am in will go off the road into water and sink. I think about how to execute a dozen different escape plans. I fear robbers. Don’t come robbers, I am a black belt in mind karate. I worry that people will hold the grocery store hostage. If that happens I will escape through the garden center to the outside and scale the fence.
16. I fear being late. That might attract attention.
17. Eating in public. I can’t explain this.
18. That God will become frustrated with me for all the time I waste being fearful.
19. That someday it will impossible to remove all the hair above my upper lip, between my eyebrows, and the pesky strands that surface on my neck out of nowhere.
20. That people are mad at me.
Postscript: This is my abbreviated list.
Fear drives worry.
I worry a lot. It is completely irrational. I have been learning to not live in fear.
I let the desire to be pleasing to everyone, drive everything I did for the majority of my life.
I did not realize that this was an utterly impossible task that completely paralyzed me.
The truth is sometimes people might not like you, for no apparent reason. It took me a very long time to accept that.
Also, there is a lot of “I” going on up there. My fears focused on self and how others perceived me. There are bigger problems going on in the world than if people are mad at me or if I made a mistake. I want to commit my life to making a difference.
I encourage you, don’t live your life in fear. It’s boring, silly, weird, and a waste. I am telling the truth (please still like me).
What fear do you need to ask God to help knock out in your life?
Of all the things you can’t control, this is one you can! I’m O.K. and you are O.K. I really, really promise. God promises to hold you up.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up…..