I want to be like Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is exactly the kind of person I completely and wholeheartedly admire and want to be like. And she’s exactly the kind of person I’m scared to become. Okay, let me explain…

I want to be like Elizabeth | Lindsey Talerico-Hedren

A photo of Elizabeth in Bolivia with our World Vision's Bolivia bloggers team, August 2010. Photo: Matthew Paul Turner

It starts with me uploading 502 wedding pictures (yeah, from 16 months ago) to my Costco account. I changed the password to that tonight so that my dear mum can get in there and print things herself when she so has the desire to. And since I suck at consistent blogging, I got into my dashboard to fool around for a bit and view the 40 or something odd drafts of posts I’ve started but haven’t finished (I do the same thing with books) to see if there was anything quick I could pull off. There wasn’t. So I checked into how my latest edition of blog lately was coming along. It wasn’t. I’d started it like 4 weeks ago, or so it seems, and was losing track of what I still needed to add to it to fluff it up, or fill it out — whichever fat metaphor you prefer.

So then I roamed all my favorite blogs — Rachel Held Evans, Joy Bennett, the anonymous writings of Intellectual Liberation

And, of course, Elizabeth Esther. That’s when I saw this post: Because I just plain suck at being a work outside the home mom

At first I was smiling and laughing…I proceeded to go through all the normal feelings I have when I read some good EE pen work — first the smiling and laughing, then the heart-warming (literally), then emotion from the tips of your toes to the top of your head (that’s EE’s greatest writing gift to me, her ability to emotionally move your entire being)… and so forth. Typically, I end reading EE’s posts with a good feeling of achievement, like I’ve achieved some unbeatable obstacle with her by reading her words. And tonight, I felt that way. But tonight there was something else, too, atypical to the norm.

I could relate to her words to deeply.

This isn’t the normal relationship between an EE blog and I — the deeply relate-able feelings. I didn’t grow up in an abusive, fundamentalist church environment, I don’t have children, I don’t decorate my home for the holidays with Christmas village fishbowls, or appear on TV. I don’t normally relate to EE. I’m inspired and encouraged and challenged by her words often, but they are not experiences or feelings I usually can relate to, other than conceptually relating to the idea of the feelings she writes about.

Her post reads a few of these graphs I’ve borrowed:

…I really, really suck at pretending I’m some stranger’s best friend just so I can make a commission off of her. I don’t know how to be “fake nice.” If I’m being nice to you it means I want to be your friend. But in retail, being nice means I’m trying to trick you into buying a bunch of clothing you may or may not be able to afford. I suck at that.

I suck at lying. I suck at manipulating. Apparently, I suck at selling.

I suck at keeping my mouth shut. I suck at not asking too many questions. I suck at not telling everyone how badly my feet hurt. I suck at not suggesting ways to do things better.

As I read those words, here’s what I was thinking…

…I really, really suck at pretending I’m some stranger’s best friend just so I can get something out of them. I don’t know how to be “fake nice.” If I’m being nice to you it means I want to be your friend. But in marketing and in the church, being nice is something you just have to do to get people to like you (or your product) or get people to think you like them. I suck at that.

I suck at lying. I suck at manipulating. Apparently, I suck at faking.

I suck at keeping my mouth shut. I suck at not asking too many questions. I suck at not suggesting ways to do things better.

I could relate to EE, deeply and emotionally. And I thought to myself at that exact moment (although this is not a new discovery) that I want to be like Elizabeth.

She knows herself, her emotions, and her values. She knows what’s good for her and for her family. And she is willing to make the sacrifices or decisions to do what she believes is best for each individual situation. She doesn’t let the opinion of someone else dictate the direction of her life or define who she is. She stands up for herself and does so without shame. She accepts God’s unconditional love and acknowledges that, sometimes, that kind of love is easier to fight than accept. But it’s most rewarding when it’s shared and freely given away. She is a giver of respect and patience and kindness, refusing to be anything but the person God made her to be — beautiful and uniquely created from the inside out. Elizabeth is, perhaps, one of the most real and authentic people I’ve ever met, possessing the qualities that are among the most necessary in respect, leadership and friendship for me personally. She is strong and filled with faith, determination and endless love for those who will share in her life. And she is wise and witty, a combination that lacks true competition.

I want to be like her.

But I’m scared that people won’t like me if I show myself all the time, my real self with my real emotions and feelings. I’m scared people will think my values are wrong or crazy or that they don’t meet their personal Christian standard. I’m scared that I’ll make decisions in the name of “sacrifice” that will end up being mistakes. I’m sometimes scared to stand up for myself out of fear someone may think I’m emotionally-charged and biased (even though I count those things as good attributes in someone else, just not myself). I think it’s scary to try and wrap my mind around God’s unconditional love for me. I wish it were one of those “just accept it” kind of things. But the intellectual in me has a difficult time accepting what I have a hard time understanding. I want to be patient and respectful and kind — I’m not sure if any of those three are my top strengths. Being strong means holding your breath and your head high through thick and thin — that’s scary. I want to be wise and witty, but typically fail at the just the right doses of each.

Elizabeth is the exact kind of person I’m scared to become.

But I can tell you this — I’m incredibly thankful that I have an example before me who has already taken the course and who, I’m positive, can show me the ropes of becoming exactly who God has made me to be. You are that example, Miss Elizabeth Esther. XO.

This post was linked-up on Joyinthisjourney.com as part of the series Life: Unmasked.

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  • I totally get this. I confessed to my husband the other night that I can’t pretend, so I put myself out there. But I keep armor up behind that me-ness because I don’t expect people to accept me for who I am. I don’t trust people with ME. People have to earn my trust, and I have to learn to take risks on people and overcome my fear at being rejected and condemned. That is terrifying. *sigh*

  • Oh my goodness. You made me cry. All it takes is a little courage. You have such a good, lovely heart, Lindsey. YOU inspire ME! I love you and support you. It’s scary to become the kind of women we want to become. But it’s so, SO worth it. LOVE is worth EVERY sacrifice!!! I want YOU to become MORE of LINDSEY! 🙂 xoxoxo

  • Peter

    Man, another great post. I think it’s noble to recognize the positive attributes that others have, as you’ve done here with Elizabeth, and identify how those can help you grow as a person. I’m a steadfast believer that every single person we meet during our lifetimes has something to teach us, and we each have something to teach others. We just have to pay attention to what those things are.

    That means also being self-aware — not just of your shortcomings, but of your unique strengths. I mentioned the other day the notion that everyone can be his or her own worst critic. I struggle with that all the time. You’re the only person in the world who sees everything about yourself — your actions, thoughts, and words, even those you’re too ashamed to reveal to others — which makes it too easy to zero in on your negative characteristics. But, again, I think it’s important to realize that you have valuable traits to offer, even as you recognize and aspire to those in others. It’s about striking a healthy balance between humility and a recognition of your God-ordained gifts as a person.