Love & Life

Be the Lead, Not the Best Friend

Do you ever watch a movie and hear something the actor said and think, “Woah, that hits home”?

That is one of the many reason why I love films and movies. Art imitates life and art can heal you with laughter or tears; light a fire inside you to stand up for an injustice; or simply warm your soul with a smile.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good book or painting. But there is something about movies I love. Most genres I enjoy. I am, however,  a chicken (and proud) so as long as it doesn’t require me to bust out my Holy Water, I’m game to watch.

Many movies I can watch over and over again, and “The Holiday” is one. One scene in particular will always stick with me. Eli Wallach (Arthur) and Kate Winslet’s character Iris are having dinner. Arthur tells Iris that her life woes are because she’s acting like the best friend and not the leading lady in her own movie.

“You’re suppose to be leading lady of your own life,” Iris responds. A lightbulb turned on when I heard that. My brain took that gem and chewed on it longer than I want to admit. In fact, I replay that part of the movie in my mind when I think about my goals in life.

How many times in our life do we doubt ourselves and think we are the best friend or part of the supporting cast instead of the lead?

Let me take you back to when I was a teenager. Like everyone else, I was just trying to get through with minimal scarring. I wanted to liked by all and I wanted to feel like I was worth a guy’s time. I wanted a guy to see me and cue the Rom Com music – you get the idea. But I was a follower, I went with the flow just enough to where I wouldn’t rock the boat. If my friends had a boyfriend, I needed one, too.

I thought surely guys would see I’m super nice, chill and would want to date me, right? Honestly, I felt more like second string … a lot.

I was dumped by someone so he could date my prettier cousin; this also happened with a friend of mine – twice. I was rejected because I was “cute but not hot enough to date,” dumped because he had to focus on his sports, rejected because “I was cute but a bit goofy.” My favorite comments from guys (okay, let’s admit they were boys)  are the following: “You’d be prettier if you didn’t make so many weird faces,” and “Your hips are so wide that you’d be worth four cows to the Amish.”

Ah, boys. They sure do know how to make a girl feel special. You’d think I would have forgotten those comments by now, especially since they happened over a decade ago but (sigh)they pop up. They show up when I feel insecure. Because, well, we all have those days no matter how much we grow.

I am so thankful for God’s gentle reminders that I am loved, and I am not second string. I am His and He adores me. He has a purpose for me no one else can fulfill. The same applies to you.

I can see that all those moments of rejection hurt so badly because I was playing the role of “best friend” in my own life. I was relying on everyone else’s opinion of me instead of God’s truth. I wasn’t leading with truth, I was letting others take the lead because it was easy. It was the path with least resistance, and well my friend, that’s not the life God has planned for us.

He saved me from even bigger heartbreaks with those rejections.

God was working behind the scenes for me and my love life. I met my husband at the age of 14 at a track meet. As the girls were chasing after boys ans I was getting an ear full, once again, on what I needed to do to get a guy, I saw him out of the corner of my eye.

As my friends went off to go find boys to gawk at, I stayed behind. I was tying my shoes when I saw him tying his shoes under a tree. Something inside me told me to go talk to him, which was not like me. But I did.

For two years, we were friends. We flirted but it was all harmless as we both were dating other people.

But one day, the start of my senior year, I was talking to my ex. We had just broken up and he was trying to convince me that we should get back together. Suddenly, the phone beeped and I told me ex I needed to take the call coming in. I put my ex on hold and said “Hello.” It was my future husband, asking me out on a date. My first real date. You can guess what happened next.

A month later, I confessed what I had always known – I always wanted my future husband and I to be together. He agreed. Right away, he could tell my self-esteem was low. I had no confidence. I was the “best friend” in my own life.

Three weeks after we became officially boyfriend and girlfriend, he got a call. He was being deployed – 18 months on a base, stateside. We agreed to fight for us because we were fighting for – we would sink or swim.

Now, we are pushing 14 years together and nine years of marriage. Not one break up in all this time – so we can definitely say we did not sink.

His deployments, his time away gave God the perfect opportunity for him to show me how to be the lead in my own life.

This doesn’t mean I woke up one day  and started telling people “No” or that I stopped second guessing things, such as my career.

God takes his time, He is in no rush because He doesn’t need to be. He answers our prayers exactly when they need to be, not when we want them to be. And if you ask Him to show you how to be the lead in your life, He will show you.

He will guide your path, always being two steps ahead. But you might be wondering, how you can do your part to take charge of your life?

Find a good self-care routine. Do what helps your unwind and relax. It’s different for every person – write, meditate, buy a small gift for yourself – whatever it is, schedule time for each day – two minutes, five minutes, 30 – and sonit. Self-care is not selfish. When your emotional tank is empty, your hurting yourself and your loved ones. We all need to recharge, and in our own way.

Try slowing down. Make a list of everything you do in a day and really think about everything on it. Why is it important? Why do you have to do it today? Will anyone be hurt or harmed if you don’t do it (example: folding laundry)? If the answer is no, then move it farther down the list. Only do what is on the list that involves other people and those you love, including yourself. If you have the energy and a few moments to spare, then try tackling a less than important task, such as laundry. I know this is easier said than done but it’s worth it. Fold laundry or take a hot bath that’s long overdue? I vote for the bath. The laundry won’t run away, trust me, I’ve asked.

Another suggestion? Take some to find yourself. Do you have a hobby? No, you can’t count your kids as a hobby. What is something you loved before kids? For me, it’s writing and painting. I haven’t painted much in my life but every time I do, I thoroughly enjoy it. It’s on my list to get back into when all my kids are fairly independent- a.k.a. they are all potty-trained. Take time to really think about your favorite movie or song, one that will stand the rest time. Embrace your sense of humor, your “quirks.” There is only one you, find it and share your unique light with the world.

Write down what you love about yourself and be honest. You will find something, promise. Work towards growing that list, slowly. I used to loathe my wide hips and I still curse when I take out a small table or child with them (yes, you can laugh at that), but overall they make me feel womanly and sensual.

Write down your dreams and remember that when one dreams comes to life, God will put new dreams in you. Your dreams and goals will grow and change throughout your life but they will never stop. If a dream doesn’t come true, know that God must have something better planned.

I could go on forever on ways to be the lead. But I’ll leave you with this – confidence. That is key to not being stuck in a supporting role. Be confident in your decision to rock a form-fitting dress; hold your head high and develop a mantra for those big work projects; whatever it is in your life you want to achieve, small or big, put together a plan and remind yourself daily that you deserve all the happiness the world offers. Because it’s out there, and you deserve to lead your own life. You deserve a slice of the happiness pie. We only get one life but, praise God, we get a new chance to start over every single morning we wake up.

So go on, be the lead in your movie, and make your performance Oscar-worthy.

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