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Shedding Your Skin


photo credit: Steven Sites

I learned more about reptiles than I ever wanted to when my middle son decided to purchase a Bearded Dragon with the money he earned one summer. I found myself immersed in routines of turning on a heated lamp for daily basking and making weekly trips to aisle three of the local pet store to purchase crickets. The things you do for love, I thought to myself. And yes, I eventually warmed up, too, and found myself standing at the aquarium in my son’s room having a monologue with that little lizard. He would turn his head at the sound of my voice, his beady eyes holding intelligence and curiosity.

For the first few months after we brought him home, he would shed his skin on almost a weekly basis. The shedding, I later learned, was necessary for his rapid growth.  And a recent conversation I overheard my husband discussing with a good friend has me thinking about all of this. “I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own skin,” he said confidently, with a light-heartedness I hadn’t heard from him before.

Sometimes shedding is necessary to grow into that place of being comfortable with who we are, of actually liking who we are as a person. I thought about all the times I’ve compared myself to someone else and came up short of enough in my measurement. The comparison of appearance, style, intelligence, creative ability, parenting–I could go on. Comparison is a quicksand that will swallow you whole and needs to shed off for us to grow.

I thought about the times I’ve silenced my own opinion out of fear of how it might be perceived. About the times I should have spoken up but didn’t, allowing someone else to make me feel inferior or believing that my own voice didn’t matter. I needed to shed giving other people that much power over my mind and my life.

I once heard a writing instructor say that, “Once you’ve made peace with your story, it no longer matters what others think.” When I think of “your story,” I think of it in a broader sense. I tend to get focused on specific moments in my life when sharing my stories, moments that are important but are only parts of the whole. Events on a timeline. They are small concerning God’s perspective of time and eternity. I think of “your story” as being all of who I am as a person with all of my character traits and quirks and uniqueness that makes me the only me on the planet.

The question is how do I get there? How do I get to that place of being comfortable in my own skin?  And how do you?