Loved, Cherished, Beautiful, Strong - incourage.me

Even her sweat is cute.

Her cheeks flush a blushing pink like a peony petal, opened up and covered in dew, as poreless as a baby’s. Her hair curls in damp wisps around her face as she lifts a water bottle to her glossed lips and my gaze flicks away from her to the full length mirrors lining the walls of the gym.

My New Year’s resolutions started with a gym membership where a man with biceps the size of my toddler’s head took my picture and managed to capture an angle that gave me at least two additional chins and the skin of an acne-ridden teenage boy, printing out a small laminate key chain fob. I was supposed to put this on my keys? For real? He gave me the customary tour of the gym and the class schedules, highlighting which ones were for beginners.

My face is cherry splotched and my pony tail hangs limp and greasy. My oversized t-shirt is soaked through and I can see where it’s now clinging to the bulges beneath my industrial sized sports bra, one I had to struggle to wedge myself into with hooks and clasps and enough velcro to stick a grown human to a wall, one that might require the jaws of life and some serious intervention to release me from.

I won’t be showering at the gym. I’ll load myself into the minivan and drive home after class, stripping down to immediately step on the scale, willing it lower with my effort, counting calories in my head, feeling the ache and burn of my muscles, punishment for my weakness.

I have visions of goal weight and my goal outfits, before and after pictures that wow, which float like a dangling carrot as I Google recipes consisting mostly of kale and tofu. Every stomach growl is penance for misplaced desire.

I am a grasping soul, never settled in peace. Always striving to make the outside look better because I know the inside is churning and chaotic and filled with jealousy and self-loathing.

I push myself to be what I fear I will never be, good enough.

I go every day for two weeks and then never again.

Years have passed since then, but I still remember gym girl and gym guy. I remember the feeling of being way too much and not at all enough every time I went.

I’ve sown a lifetime of envy into my soul, and reaped a harvest of fear.

Fear that I didn’t add up. That I wasn’t good enough or smart enough or pretty enough. Because there was a time when my skin was smooth like marble, and my body was strong and young, and I was cute-store-sized and I wasn’t enough then either.

And when I got married and had kids, everyone else seemed to remember to put the laundry from the washer to the dryer without having to rerun it 3 times.

Other women managed to keep their houses clean and artfully decorated with book page art and thrift store finds repurposed to look like Pottery Barn catalogs. Other women serve in children’s ministry with homemade healthy snacks and hand-sewn puppets. Other women didn’t show up to the community bake sale with cut and bake cookies and spit up on their shirts, their buttons wonky from misaligning one.

Other women ran marathons and started nonprofits and had careers and wrote books. Other women travel and speak languages and have passports needing additional pages. Other women have degrees and letters dangling off their names from prestigious universities. Other women speak and people listen, they fit in and throw their heads back when they laugh, wide toothy smiles, they don’t hunker down in the sofa and pull the throw pillow over their belly while trying to think of something to say.

Other women match ankle booties to skinny jeans and layer infinity scarves without strangulation of any kind. They can tackle a messy bun without looking like a small woodland creature is nesting in their hair. Other women wake at 5 am and have quiet times next to their vases of fresh cut poppies grown in their gardens which they Instagram next to their journaling Bibles with handwriting that looks like a custom font. They cook steel cut oatmeal for their children who eat it without complaint. Other women homeschool their children who are all fluent in Latin, have memorized the Epistles and have raised money for refugees in Africa, the homeless in their community — all while starting a clothing company from fair-trade-organically-sourced ministries in their spare time.

Other women do it better. Other women are better. I’ve believed it for far too long.

I see gym girl everywhere when I let envy dictate my dreams, my goals, my reality. I see her in all the women who do it better, in all the ways I come up short. And much like that ridiculous gym key fob with the horrible picture, my insecurities dangle there taunting me. I let it keep me away from the process. Not to change into a me that’s good enough, but to believe that just showing up is part of the journey, not just to a fit self, but to a fit soul.

I am back to exercising. I pull on my oversized t-shirt and work myself into a fine ache, and when I look in the mirror bypassing the scale, I feel spent yet whole, flushed and alive.

I’m not looking for a better version of myself, but a truer version of who I have always been: loved, cherished, beautiful, strong.

I sow grace for myself. To be where I am, to be who I am. Enough.

I reap grace for others, to excel at what God called them to do in all the excellent ways He’s gifted them. To allow others to own their gifts and calling without resenting being passed over. They are running their own races. No one can outpace me when my route is different.

I surrender envy and find the deep exhale of enough being poured over me like an anthem.

I make space to breathe deep and beat my heart out before God and feel the width of my soul stretching out like limbs hungry for a race. I look to what’s set before me, and I take my place in the line up.

I make my peace to belong wholly with no goal weights or sizes or lists of accomplishments. My only resolution is to know God more, to seek His face.

I take my place, comfortable in this small and ordinary life, in this calling to imperfection and grace, and I run it good and well and hard, my beautiful blotchy sweat stained skin a testament to His work in me.

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  • Bev Duncan

    Alia Joy,
    Had some trouble posting…I’ll add technologically inept to my “not enough” trait list lol. Anyway, I had to smile when you said she even sweat cute. I am a plus sized gal and I remember my mother saying women don’t sweat, they glisten. Well, I look like a wet, red flushed, rag when I exercise. I need to, as you said, make God and seeking His face my first resolution. When I am in His presence and in His word, scripture like “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” begins to really take root in my soul. Thank you for beautifully reminding us that we are not alone and that the comparison game leads nowhere. Cheering you on, sister, as you/we all learn to know, that in His sight, we are already enough.
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Alia_Joy

      That’s ok Bev. Sometimes comment sections get the better of me too. I’ve had plenty of blogs eat my comment or repost them a few times. And I most definitely do not glisten, although I love that she said that. I’m with you, whatever work I’m doing to make me sweat, it shows. Yes, no one wins at the comparison game for sure. Working on keeping my eyes fixed. ;)

  • Bev Duncan

    Alia Joy,
    Had some trouble posting…I’ll add technologically inept to my “not enough” trait list lol. Anyway, I had to smile when you said she even sweat cute. I am a plus sized gal and I remember my mother saying women don’t sweat, they glisten. Well, I look like a wet, red flushed, rag when I exercise. I need to, as you said, make God and seeking His face my first resolution. When I am in His presence and in His word, scripture like “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” begins to really take root in my soul. Thank you for beautifully reminding us that we are not alone and that the comparison game leads nowhere. Cheering you on, sister, as you/we all learn to know, that in His sight, we are already enough.
    Blessings,
    Bev

  • http://genuflected.com/ Jenni DeWitt

    Learning to love ourselves seems to be a life-long adventure. As I get older, I’ve decided one of the keys for me is to seek God’s approval, not the worlds or even my own. Of course I forget that almost every other second. Thanks for this beautiful post. God bless!
    Jenni at http://www.genuflected.com

  • http://www.creeksideministries.blogspot.com/ Linda@Creekside

    Oh, Alia … you always speak to our deepest soul cries with such forceful power. When you write, I lean into every word that comes from your overflowing heart.

    And yes, in the end, it’s Him that we most definitely need. And He saves us from ourselves.

    Appreciating your presence in my life. And yes, the marvels of His powerful grace …

    • Alia_Joy

      Oh how we need to be saved from ourselves. I appreciate you too, thankful for your words here.

  • Mindy Mason von Gunten

    Hi there…Minda Joy over in snowy Michigan. Oh your long list of ‘perfect women’ had me laughing hard, ending with the coup de grace of the home-schooled children with their organically sourced fair trade clothing company!!! Brilliant. You nailed it with your multiple descriptions. But…oh isn’t that the truth? Comparison truly is the thief of joy. We can’t let the enemy do that to us. I only subscribe to a few blogs for this very reason & only read them sometimes–if I have the emotional margin/time that day ;)

    “I sow grace for myself. To be where I am, to be who I am. Enough.
    I reap grace for others, to excel at what God called them to do in
    all the excellent ways He’s gifted them. To allow others to own their
    gifts and calling without resenting being passed over. They are running
    their own races. No one can outpace me when my route is different.”

    Amen! I shall remind myself of your words as I too continue on my own journey to better health & becoming all God has for me, to become the truest version of myself.

    • Alia_Joy

      It does seem comical how we build people up in our minds, always better than we are. The truth is, the more I got to know “perfect” women, the more I realize they fight their own battles too. We all need to find grace not only for what we don’t do well, but also for what others do. Cheering you on in your journey, Mindy!

  • http://rachelbritton.wordpress.com/ Rachel Britton

    Thank you for the reminder my goal is to know God more. I am leading a new ministry called Culture of Wellness where we learn to live grace-FULLY in mind, body and spirit. Your blog post is perfect to use during one of the sessions. I will be crediting you and incourage.me

  • Veronica

    Love this, “I sow grace for myself. To be where I am, to be who I am. Enough.”
    Cheering you on Alia, in your journey to know that you are enough, and that you matter.

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you!

  • http://www.LizCurtisHiggs.com Liz Curtis Higgs

    All I can say is, yes, yes, YES. Bless you for opening your heart (and your brilliant mind) to let us see the truth inside. “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” Psalm 149:4 NASB

    • Alia_Joy

      I just love you, my new friend. Thank you so much for your encouragement and cheering and wide open heart. You bless me big time. I’m so thankful for your wisdom and grace.

  • http://momentsandinvitations.com/ Dana Butler

    Oh my friend… I love you, and I love the way you articulate your journey. Your process of settling into who you most deeply are and all He has for you. Thanks for the gift of these words today – they encourage and inspire. And what He’s doing in you is breathtaking.

    • Alia_Joy

      Love you too, friend. God’s got lots to do around here. ;) I’m leaning in hard.

      • http://momentsandinvitations.com/ Dana Butler

        With you in that leaning…

  • http://tuningmyhearttopraise.blogspot.com/ ro elliott

    Alia Joy… yes… extending grace to ourselves… we miss this so often… because we have no grace for ourselves…we then are straining and striving to give grace to those around us… grace flows from the grace we received … it’s so hard to keep in the truth that He calls us to like the upside down kingdom… where the measuring sticks are broken into pieces… where the hidden things are rewarded… where the first will be last… where a cup of cold water matters… the kingdom of the world rewards and applauds the measurable success according to the economy of this world… oh let us all look to His kingdom… where the unmeasurable things … the hidden things bring Him pleasure…where our reward is according to the economy of HIs Kingdom… LOVE… GRACE and MERCY!!!

    • Alia_Joy

      Grace flows from the grace we received. YES! We don’t have to keep track of things or add things up or subtract things that never seem to come out even or balance. We can just trust in infinite love, where there is no deficit. I love His Kingdom.

  • http://www.akajanerandom.com Paula Claunch

    Nothing poetic to add but thank you for your words.

    • Alia_Joy

      Thanks for being here with me.

  • http://www.hollyjanecreative.blogspot.com/ Holly

    Beautiful words, and the thoughts true for me as well. How do I measure up to all that I see? ”

    I sow grace for myself. To be where I am, to be who I am. Enough.”

    Thank you!

    • Alia_Joy

      I’m so thankful we don’t have to measure up, because I never will. We just have to show up and accept God’s grace.

  • http://www.happygostuckey.com/ Cynthia Stuckey

    Thank you, Alia. Such amazing words today.

    • Alia_Joy

      Thanks Cynthia.

  • Brenda Meyer

    You’ve said it so well, no need to repeat…but thanks..just thanks!

  • Deena

    Amen

  • Joanne Peterson

    Hi Alia Joy,
    I needed to be reminded that I am running my own race, what Jesus wants me to do, not try to do what anyone else is trying to do, looking like anyone else can look like, and be talented like anyone else is talented, or be organized like anyone else is organized.

    I need to do the job I am given to the best of my ability. I am enough because Jesus is in me, and loves me as I am. I learned this past weekend that our perspective is how we see our world through our experiences, how we are, and not true reality, and our expectations is how we expect the world to work, and not true reality.

    You pointed out true reality, my relationship with Christ, and His expectations of me, not anyone else, the path I am to take, and the path of knowing and loving Him, and listening to Him, and doing what He says, blocking out my own voice and the voices of anyone else leading me down to something I can’t attain, nor can I hope to do, or should I do. I have my own desires that Jesus placed in me. Enough on my plate today, and in who I am called to be, for today…..

    Thank you!

    Blessings,

    Joanne

    (I’m speakin’ the reality to myself as a reminder :) )

    • Alia_Joy

      Preach! I often write to myself as well. It’s a good reminder when we get our eyes unfixed from truth and start looking around a bit too much.

  • Sharon Piatt

    This is the most honest and beautifully written post I’ve ever read! And so true to my soul… makes me feel as if you have been peeking into my journal. Never enough. That’s how I’ve felt my whole life, and yet it is all self inflicted and not at all what my Father planned for me. Your writing flows off the page effortlessly and right into the hearts of your readers. Thank you for the perspective and inspiration.

    • Alia_Joy

      I know it well. My friend and fellow (in)courage writer, Jennifer Lee, wrote a book called Love Idol about the never enoughs and being preapproved in Christ. It speaks to so much of this and is a great read if you haven’t yet. I know a lot of women who are finally embracing how they are made, quitting with the comparisons, and walking in freedom. I’m trying to do that very thing myself. So thank you so much for the encouragement! And if you haven’t read it and want to grab a copy, Dayspring carries it in their bookstore also. http://www.dayspring.com/jennifer_dukes_lee_love_idol/

  • lhamer

    The comparison game is the worst. I’ve found that as I have grown older it has become easier to accept who I am. And I’m okay. :)

    • Alia_Joy

      Yes, age can do that. I am in my thirties and I wouldn’t relive the insecurities of my teens for anything in the world. I’m hoping by my 40’s and beyond I’ll have an even firmer grasp of the freedom I have in Christ to be who He created.

  • Jess A.

    *tears rolling down my face* i’ve spent most of my life feeling every way you spoke of and so much more but i’m so thankful for our Father God who affirms me in my fear and when i’ve convinced myself, once again, that i’m not enough He gently guides my eyes from “self” to my Savior. thank you for this beautiful and very funny reminder that i (we) are more than enough in Christ Jesus! be blessed :)

    • Alia_Joy

      Oh yes, keeping eyes fixed from self to savior. I love that. It makes all the difference in how we see.

  • http://www.kimberlyanncoyle.com KimberlyCoyle

    This one went straight to my heart. Thank you, Alia.

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you Kimberly. I’m glad it resonated with you too.

  • Patricia Miller

    Lovely and well written and observations of life. Like you, I’ve been striving to return to the gift the Lord gave me, permission to live an authentic life, a life that permits grace to abound. Too long have I been crafting an inner world full of rules, many times inner rules that were in competition with one another so I was doomed to failure from the start. Now I am striving to live as the Lord compels, with His freedom. And yes, I am also exercising again :-)

    • Alia_Joy

      Living an authentic life free from those comparisons lifts the soul and yes, it makes exercising less daunting. ;) Good for you!

  • Lisa Brown

    Why are we so hard on ourselves? This was an excellent post for me to read today. I feel fat, my house is yuck, my son refuses to do school today (home school). I look at all my messes and I don’t feel like enough. But in God’s eyes I am enough. We all are!!!! I love your post!!!! Great reminder. There will always be somebody who seems to be better. I see several home school moms that seem to have it altogether. I am really sad because we are in a battle everyday. I am learning that we all are different and we don’t need to do things the same way or be the same. We need to find ways that work for us. But we can’t if we compare ourselves to everybody else. This is easier said then done, isn’t it.

    • Alia_Joy

      From one homeschool mom to another, I so get you. We’ve had times when I’ve felt sure I was doing everything wrong because it’s so difficult and everyone else seemed to have delightful children who begged to do more schoolwork or chores! As I type this my kids are at the kitchen table a few feet away and the breakfast dishes are not loaded into our empty dishwasher but piled in the sink, I’m still in my pajamas way into the afternoon. I’ve been asked a zillion questions, put down one tantrum, and my daughter has no clean socks or pants. It’s easy to think everyone else isn’t battling. But we all do, just in different ways. Hang in there, you do you. It’s enough.

      • Lisa Brown

        Thank You – yep my kitchen sink is piled high too.

  • http://www.jenniferdukeslee.com/ dukeslee

    What a fantastic piece of writing / wisdom. I adore you, friend.

    • Alia_Joy

      I seem to recall someone else who spoke this message of freedom over women and helped release us to accept our identity in Christ. ;) I referred to Love Idol in one of my comment replies with a link because I think it’s a fabulous resource for people who struggle with this (which is pretty much everyone I’ve met) but Disqus flagged it for the link so it’s off in some holding cloud somewhere. Nonetheless thankful for your wisdom and modeling in this, friend.

  • JeanneTakenaka

    Alia Joy, yes, I’ve been that girl. The one whose eyes were on the best of everyone else and the worst of me, yearning for what they had. And feeling left out. And less than. And yes, envying the gifts God had given other women, and wondering why I didn’t deserve those same gifts.

    You spoke such beautiful truths here. I loved what you said here, “Not to change into a me that’s good enough, but to believe that just showing up is part of the journey, not just to a fit self, but to a fit soul.” Just showing up is part of the journey. I needed that reminder.

    Thanks for sharing so transparently. Your words spoke to my heart today.

    • Alia_Joy

      I’m so glad. This post was part of the just showing up and I’ve been really blessed in this journey with all of the beautiful comments so thank you.

  • Meredith Bernard

    You always say all the things in such a way that oozes grace and truth and love. This speaks volumes to me, “I reap grace for others, to excel at what God called them to do in all the excellent ways He’s gifted them. To allow others to own their gifts and calling without resenting being passed over. They are running their own races. No one can outpace me when my route is different.” Our routes are different! Yes! We aren’t in a race against each other…just against time. Against our own ability to run our own race as well as we can for Him and those He calls us to serve. Not to run against our sisters running their own race for the same end game. Thank you for getting me thinking. This gives this day-3-greasy-headed-homeschool mama a lot to chew on today. Grateful for you Alia and GLAD to see you back. <3

    • Alia_Joy

      I need to remind myself of that too because it’s easy to feel passed over, or to resent that everyone else has it easier or seems to be sprinting along just fine while I’m limping through the days. It’s easy to end up in the wrong lane when we’re not mindful of it. ;) Thanks for the warm welcome back.

  • Karrilee Aggett

    It’s amazing how even when we haven’t talked, you are still in my head! I love you so… and pre- or post-workout, you owe me a Vox! ;)

    • Alia_Joy

      YES! I do. One’s coming your way. Brace yourself for the onslaught of feels.

  • http://www.gracepcho.com/ Grace Cho

    This makes me want to give you a big amen hug! If you’re into hugs that is. My favorite line- No one can outpace me when my route is different.

    • Alia_Joy

      I’ll totally take a hug. I was never a super affectionate person until I had kids and then I started blogging and all these feelings came out. Now I cry and hug. I don’t even know who I am anymore. ;)

      • http://www.gracepcho.com/ Grace Cho

        HAHAHA That God. He’s a God of miracles for sure :)

  • Dollie

    Wow so me thank you for reminding me I am enough

  • Inspired Life

    Alia,

    Thank you sweetie for your grace words and imagery which actually had me chuckling aloud over here because I’m still trying to figure out the whole skinny jeans and ankle booty deal. I bought a pair trying to be “that girl” but really I’m a driving moccasin, blazer and jeans kinda gal. I’ve had the boots for a year and worn the once. And I won’t go there about the exercise. Ok I will. I get panicky over my little muffin top because I’ve been heavier before and really I fear going back to that place. Thanking God that today I am ok with my imperfections because to my Father, I am His beloved.

    • Alia_Joy

      I don’t think I’ll ever get it. I’ve seen it work on people so I know it’s possible but it’s not working for me and that’s just fine. I think at times we’ve all wanted to be “that girl” whoever she is to us. But yes, your imperfections, the things that make you are enough and ok and beloved.

  • Melanie

    I don’t know you but I love you and your heart. Amen amen amen! I’ve always struggled with this and see my idol growing as age and wrinkles and forgetfulness edge into my life…the life with the bun and the woodland creatures living in it. Ha!

    • Alia_Joy

      Embrace it! It’s all it’s own version of beautiful and enough. And yes, those buns are their own habitats.

  • http://sarahcoleman.com.au/ sarahcoleman

    A truer version of who I have always been in such an important message. Thank you for your insight (and keep going for it at the gym!).

  • http://genuflected.com/ Jenni DeWitt

    Learning to love ourselves seems to be a life-long adventure. As I get older, I’ve decided one of the keys for me is to seek God’s approval, not the worlds or even my own. Of course I forget that almost every other second. Thanks for this beautiful post. God bless!

    • Alia_Joy

      It’s hard, isn’t it? But how free and beautiful and wild are we for those brief moments when we really and truly do. When we let go and have faith that what God says about is is in fact true.

  • Amanda

    “I sow grace for myself…I reap grace for others…” I think I may have just found my new prayer mantra. Thank you for a beautiful, vulnerable exploration of what it means to surrender envy. I am inspired.

    • Alia_Joy

      A beautiful harvest. A wonderful prayer.

  • Connie

    Thank you for sharing. It made my morning. I am 64 & I wish I could have learned this year’s ago. (To be the best me) That God has made us all so different with different talents to showcase Himself because He is so vast He needs us all to show Himself through. You have a gift of writing, I don’t, but I enjoy reading :-) I am off to work to be my best “me” there today. Blessings!

    • Alia_Joy

      I’m hoping I learn it well now, too. I don’t want to waste any more years in fear.

  • Denise

    What an incredible sum of truth’s – thank you!! I wish that every woman could get her hands on this article and feel the “anthem” of “you are enough.” I plan to read this over and over again.
    God bless!

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you Denise. It’s got a nice ring to it.

  • http://www.givinguponperfect.com/ Mary Carver

    You’re in my head again, bestie. :) Thank you for this. I’m keeping the tab open so I can re-read and let this one soak in…

    • Alia_Joy

      Love you my bestie. Thank you for being awesome. Always.

  • http://makemebeautifulministries.com Shelley Giguere

    Why do we compare ourselves, especially when we know God’s truth? I memorized Psalm 139, and have recited it over and over a million times, yet it fails to detonate in my heart. “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” But my soul really doesn’t. It’s a mindset which says “what God made is not good enough.” That’s not the way I want to think!
    Thank-you for the beautifully-spoken reminder that He has given each one of us a special calling and has made me perfectly for the work He has laid before me.

    • Alia_Joy

      Yes, perfectly made, equipped for everything He’s calling you to. Keep it tucked away. It’s no less true when we struggle to believe it. And we all struggle to believe it.

  • Suzanne Wray Rowan

    Alia – that was one of the most awesome and hilarious things I’ve read in all my “blog” reading! And you nailed me right where I stand today… thank you, thank you for this .. and for reminding me how much grace I need to receive, because so many need me to give it.
    What a joy you have given me :)

    • Alia_Joy

      Thanks Suzanne. I love that. So many need me to give it. How can we give what we’ve not yet received? So good.

  • http://www.jacquewatkins.com/ Jacque Watkins

    Oh friend. Your words are deep and heart so wide to share with us so we know we are not alone. I’m so thankful for you. How you see. How you write. And how you love. Grabbing grace for my own heart today. And sending so much love to you. And a great BIG squishy hug!! We are enough. ENOUGH. xoxo

    • Alia_Joy

      Yes you are my dear friend. I love you. That is all.

  • De Anna Morris

    wow… your statements
    I push myself to be what I fear I will never be, good enough
    and
    I sow grace for myself. To be where I am, to be who I am. Enough.
    A contrast of thought patterns. I pray this too.

    Thank you for sharing. Blessings to you!

  • Lanissa

    Wow. “To allow others to own their gifts and calling without resenting being passed over. They are running their own races. No one can outpace me when my route is different. “Thank you so much for sharing this! I struggle so much with comparison and letting others make me feel inferior.

  • Anna Labno

    Wow! I love your writing. It’s so beautiful! You drew me in right away. You have such a wonderful way to let me feel what you were feeling.

  • Rachel V

    um…yeah. THIS. simultaneously laughing and crying! thank you.

  • Aliso

    Wow, very honest and gutsy, being enough is a biggy to get over, or accept I think and to read this honest view on envying others and deciding that you are enough and we can all be enough is a breath of fresh air. Thanks

  • http://www.adandeliondiary.blogspot.com/ Mindy Whipple

    I have had this in my in-box waiting for a moment to really savor the read. I think so many women, myself included, can identify with so much of what you write so honestly here. My heart says yes to this: ” I’m not looking for a better version of myself, but a truer version of who I have always been: loved, cherished, beautiful, strong.” And my soul to this: “I sow grace for myself. To be where I am, to be who I am. Enough.” Inspired words…