I have seven children. Seven! And if you asked me if there was something that was most challenging about having a newborn when there were other little “helpers” around, I would say yes, and that it happened in the first few months of their lives. All my kids doted on each little one as they became part of our family, and they never meant to be rough. But we had to carefully teach each child to support the baby’s head until their neck muscles were strong enough to hold it up on their own.
I was always relieved when my babies held up their own heads. Developing those muscles laid the foundation for everything else the baby would do later. Roll over. Crawl. Walk. Not to mention the ability to observe the world around them and learn.
Keep this in mind as I tell you my story.
I was preparing to attend a conference where I would see people I hadn’t seen for a few years. No problem, right? Well, I had gained back the weight I had lost, my hair was in a bit of a funk, and my insecurity levels seemed to rise with every minute that moved me closer to my trip. I was packing my bags and listening to various podcasts, and the words, “It doesn’t matter what you look like. You have divine value. You keep your head held high.”
While traveling to my conference, I pondered those words and decided to experiment. When we arrived, my initially hesitant steps became more resolute as I remembered my plan. I walked into the conference, and I lifted my head. I was seriously shocked by what happened next. The anxiety, shame, and embarrassment left me immediately. I looked people in the eye. I smiled. I stopped thinking about myself and started focusing on the needs of others.
All from keeping my head up? Really!?
It’s true. I walked around that conference with a bounce in my step, with confidence, and with love radiating from my heart ready to touch the lives of others.
Just like my babies . . . exercising my muscles to keep my head up was foundational. Lifting my head allowed the feelings of insecurity to roll right past me. Any former desires to crawl in a hole and hide diminished, and my walk became a determined and happy one. And I, too, was able to observe the world around me and learn when I held my head high.
Did you know that the change of posture in our bodies can actually cause a chemical shift? Think about it. If we drop our heads and slump our shoulders . . . sadness and discouragement follow. Could you really feel confident and enthusiastic in that posture? But, by the same token, could you lift your head, smile a genuine smile, and then be sad and grumpy?
Let me share one more example. A week after my conference I accidentally dropped a ten-pound weight on my toe and caused some less than attractive bruising and swelling. I was pretty concerned when I realized I had an event to attend that required a nice dress. As I tried to slip my matching dress shoe onto my deformed and swollen foot, I almost cried. I could get it on my foot, but just taking three steps in it caused enough pain to almost take me down. My only choice was to wear my flip flops.
With a dress? You’ve gotta be kidding!
Well, I decided I’d just have to deal with it, and all the insecurity from the week before immediately came back to play. It is certainly an unfriendly playmate. But as I walked toward the building, this thought came to my mind: “Hold your head high, and they won’t look at your feet.”
And guess what? It worked! I experienced the same outcome that I had at the conference I looked people straight in the eye, I smiled, and I didn’t see even one person look down at my crystal-studded foam embarrassments.
Are you with me?
Here’s the thing. We all have things that trigger our own feelings of yuck. Those things that bring insecurity, discouragement, and shame. But we do not have to live there. We are enough.
Just. The. Way. We. Are.
So you keep going. You keep trying. And remember, every day, that it doesn’t matter what you look like. What job you have. What home you live in. What car you drive. You have divine value. So you keep your head held high!