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Dear Girl, You're Still Learning

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

So, I had these amazing plans for the new year. It wasn’t a resolution or a workout plan (although I found myself doing those things too)! It was a plan to launch A Wiser Me and get all these amazing stories out to you...I have some ready to go, but I just haven’t posted them.

Wedding Greenery

What I’ve found is that I have a hard time with my plans. Why? Because I keep trying to fit them into this presupposed box that I created for them, instead of just letting them burst out, haphazardly, as I sometimes find myself being.

I read a bunch of too-good-to-be-true blog help sites that told me the where, when and how to do things. And then I created these expectations and then I failed them. Therefore, I’ve been hibernating, which is what I do when I feel like I’ve failed my plans. Can you relate?

Here’s the thing - I don’t think this has affected anybody BUT ME!!!

Kristi Thomas-Burtner, bridal portrait

Y’all, I started this for two reasons: the Lord impressed upon me to WRITE and because I NEEDED AN OUTLET! I needed a way to get my writing and thoughts out...and I love it for this reason. But then, I started feeling the pressure to perform. Why? Because that’s what the world tells me I need to do. That’s also what I believed that I needed to do.

So the question is - why? Who am I performing for?

In a sweet Christian spirit, I would say no one, but the truth is, it’s really hard for me to find my worth just the way I am. I have sought out so many things to make me feel better and the truth of the matter is, I need to just let myself be. I need to own who I am and what I believe. Do I believe that Jesus loves me just the way I am? YES! Do I believe that others love me just the way I am, nope, not a bit of it. And you may think I’m being harsh, but it’s the truth. I don’t rest easy, knowing that others love me. In fact, it’s why I haven't interacted much with many people anymore, because I don’t trust who I am, just the way I am.

For some reading this, you may know me and believe that this is not even possible. And maybe you knew me when...when I had other things that masked the truth. Things like a job, a career, more money, a hobby, a workout plan, nice cars, nice clothes, an education, and, heck, even a resume.

You see, I’m a people-pleaser and when I was a student, this played out by trying to be the best in class, get the best grades and suck up to the teachers. In my career, it meant working the hardest, staying the latest and working all ungodly hours. When I left corporate, it meant never saying “no” to the ministry work or travel that I did. And then, when I got married, it meant saying “yes” to everything my husband wanted and not really being able to vocalize what I wanted. And as a mother, it means engrossing myself solely into the care taking of my daughter and not trying to build a life outside of that. And all the while, I was internalizing all the accolades of the amazing comments that told me I’m such a good ________________(fill in the blank).

Here’s the thing, it hasn’t been enough.

I’ve tried, and I have some amazing friends who have lifted me up, prayed for me, held my hands and encouraged me, but to tell you the truth, it’s not enough. It’s why I’m in counseling, it’s why I’m working really hard at understanding me, my feelings, the truth behind those feelings and all of the items that are in front of me.

BS Ladies at the Burtner Wedding

I’ve been working hard at filling myself up with God’s truth my whole life. And the day I realized that I was saved by my faith in Him and not by works, I WAS TRULY FREE. And it’s been a battle to continue to remember that ever since. But here’s the thing, I have to also remember that while I’m free, God loves the sweet, spontaneous and brash person I am. He loves the real me. And so do others, others I don’t get to see a lot, because I feel guilty for wanting things that are different than what the world thinks I SHOULD want as a stay at home mom, as a christian, as a woman, as a mother as a wife...fill in the blank. And there are many times when I don’t know how to balance all of that. So, sometimes I just bow out.

And sometimes, I just wish I could lash out and say, “I’m not your holly homemaker.” I’m not your demur polite lady-like woman. I accidentally cuss sometimes, because that part of me is flawed and it slips out. I like to have a glass of wine or two and once in a while more, because I like wine. I also like to imbibe because the pain of the injustices in this life are too much for me to bear and I enjoy the lament...the human-ness of being human. I cope with food too many times. If you upset me or piss me off, I’m likely to run to carbs before alcohol, truth be told. And if you are the one who upset me, I’m likely to avoid you, because I don’t know what to say and don’t enjoy conflict. If you hurt me or say a comment that cuts me, I’m likely to also hide or no longer interact. If I have a deep session of counseling, I’m likely to sit in the parking lot of whatever place is next on my list and VEG OUT to nothing but social media and mindless scrolling.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t always know how to get out of the funk that swarms around my head. I don’t have the answers about what I should do next --whether I should go back to work, work harder at being a homemaker, want to home school my child, not want to home school my child, want to be a yoga instructor or not be a yoga instructor, go back to school for something entirely different, or just plain fly away to a remote mountain cabin or beach....I don’t know.

Does this mean I’m walking away from my faith, that I’ve lost my faith, or that I don’t have faith? NO!!! In fact, Jesus keeps me grounded. He is my sustain-er, my redeemer and I cling to His truth to be reminded of all that I know I can do and all that is possible. It also means that I don’t take one day for granted or that I take my life, my position, or my privilege in this life for granted. It means that it’s so bursting forth from within me, that I don’t know how to contain, reign it in or what to do with it all the ideas of how to help, where to help, when to speak up or not speak for now, I’m doing my best.

Truth - Jesus Loves You

This is probably pretty annoying or hard to read for some people. They may think it’s an excuse, it’s a way out, it’s a complaint. And it may be it’s all of it and it’s how I’m hoping to get through this period in life. I’ve had many ups and downs in this life and while they all seem to ebb and flow, they happen, and I don’t like the idea of denying them, or ignoring them. When I was younger, it felt like they were able to be worked out with much contemplation, but as I’ve gotten older it feels like there’s an expectation for them to just be worked out through fear and trembling...ha! Just kidding, but it feels like there is an expectation to just get over it - that we can’t sit it in, we can’t lament, we can’t take the day off and go to our favorite bar or our favorite coffee shop and just sit and talk it out with a friend...or can we?

Overall, my desire is to be HONEST, to be TRANSPARENT and to be as REAL as I can be (it’s a struggle for me and my mid-western, suck-it-up and get-over-it demeanor).

So here I sit, with all my expectations and goals (and I do have the timeline, the notes, the to do lists to show and prove to you I have a plan) not met and not happening. And so what do I do? Do I freeze to failure, or do I just keep pushing on with the indecision, the hesitation, the fear, the frustration? Well, I’m writing and that’s what I need and want to do and it’s been the first burst of writing that I’ve had come out since the new year began. I’m counting that as a win.

So, I’m going to CELEBRATE, I mean I AM CELEBRATING and valuing each day for what it allows me to do. I’m grateful and I’m going to choose to feel a bit of relief in just getting the words above OUT. Moving on to the next thing that comes forward, if you join me for the journey, I would like to say, Thank you. There’s some amazing things coming that I can’t wait to share. If you get annoyed with it, no worries, I’m a work in progress and sometimes that can be a bit messy and hard to follow, but when the final picture comes in view - oh what a glorious day!

1 Corinthians 13: 12 - 13 The Passion Translation

For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. 13 Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.

Kristi Thomas-Burtner Reflection

Incredible photos by Jenna Rocket of

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