on trying to change

When The Man and I got married almost 10 years ago, I set out to make a life, to be a wife, and a real grown-up. I feel young now, but I was even younger then, and somewhere deep inside, I think I believed that being a grown-up meant being other than what I was – I thought perhaps expression and creativity and art weren’t necessary for me anymore. Those things were for the teenage me, the angsty me, the girl.

But I feared the low rumble that I lived with, that tight moving ball that rolled around deep inside, begging to be let out. I tried to ignore it, because that felt better at the time than facing it and having to actually do something about it. I couldn’t make peace with it, the part of me that had to write, the part of me that loved song lyrics and interesting melodies, the part of me that needed to stare off into the distance in order to feel half-way normal.

I’m still trying to figure out why I was ashamed of those things, why I fought the art for so long. Maybe it was because I was in my early twenties and still trying to come out of myself. And the self that began to emerge was different from the self I thought I ought to be, so I denied those parts that didn’t seem to fit with my ideal and I tried to work on those parts that seemed best.

I felt guilty for who I was, how I was made. And because I wouldn’t let myself embrace the creativity and all that comes with it, I was denying myself myself. In turn, I was denying everyone else myself, too. I couldn’t love fully or live fully. I don’t want to sound so self-focused, and I know I’m running that risk. But I believe when we allow ourselves to be accurate expressions of how God made us, then we bring him great pleasure. Like a gift. Like worship. He made us certain ways on purpose, didn’t he?

“I’m slow, not prolific. I have to think and concentrate to get anything done. I’m disorganized and messy. I speak when I should shut up and shut up when I should speak. I talk too loud and too long. And my head’s shaped like a light bulb. If who you are is random, then yeah, go on a self-improvement program. But, if you think God is in control of the whole thing of you, and he made you on purpose for a reason, and you try to be someone else, who will be you?”

– Gary Morland, New Life’n

Some stuff about us are faults or sin or change-worthy. But I think a lot of those things we try to make different are actually the things that make us different. And it doesn’t have to be an artsy thing, like writing or music or paint. It’s whatever thing that makes you come alive. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the question, What do you really want to do? As it turns out, being a grown up is overrated anyway.


  1. says

    For years, I think I would have answered your question, “What do you really want to do?” with an answer such as “Be like Vicki” or “Be like Joni” or “Be like Marla.” Or, even worse, I wanted to be like the very best parts of all those women, as if there were some great composite woman I should aspire to be. And all the while, there was a Richella locked inside my heart, wishing she could join the party.

    You know what you are to me, Emily? You are the one who invites women like me to join the party. Which makes you both totally, uniquely you as well an echo of Jesus.

  2. says

    oh emily, what an awesome post! i loved it…and the quote??!! this unlocks some stuff that’s been stuck in me and stuff i need to keep thinking on…

    thank you for this before my shower, beginning of the day, TRUTH AND LIGHT! what a gift!

    p.s. i loved this ‘the part of me that had to stare off into the distance to feel half-way normal’…it’s not just me:)? and i don’t think i thought that that was ok until you said it!

    • says

      Abby – thank you. When someone says “I don’t think I thought that was okay until you said it” I listen up. It is the greatest gift to me to have anything I say shed light on something for someone else. So thanks for saying so.

  3. says

    i’m reminded of Jesus asking a man, “what is it that you want?” i have an answer, but it seems out of reach. what do we do when our art doesn’t get to be first?

    • says

      I’ve actually thought a lot about that, Kendal – at least as it relates to seasons of life, and what is possible at certain times. When you say it seems out of reach, do you mean it seems impossible because of timing and such? Or because it’s impossible?

  4. says


    I actually went through something similar when I married my hubby last Spring. I wanted to be the “best” wife for him. And in my mind that meant being someone other than who I really was…it meant becoming like all of those amazing women I read the blogs of on the internet…I didn’t get that the “perfect” wife for him was ME! I struggled with this for a couple of months until I realized that I couldn’t be one of “the perfect” wives I read about…and went to apologize to him for it…his response blew me away…he didn’t want me to try to be someone else…he told me that not one of the people that I had raised up in my mind as so much better than me was perfect let alone the woman that he wanted…that he married. He just wanted me to be me! Not a house keeper…me Mary Joy. I actually wrote about this very thing in my last blog post! God is so good…and my life was forever changed for the better…and my marriage…once I finally “got” that he wanted me to pursue the aching dream in my heart…that writing and creating which was a big part of who I am…is a big part of the woman that he loves.

    Thank you for confirming that its OK to be one of those women who…gazes off into space and day dreams…creates…in her mind and heart…thank you for helping me to see that I am not the only one! 😀

    I would be so honored if you read my post about this very subject today. You have touched my life so much through your writing…your encouragement to follow who Jesus wants me to be…uniquely different from the “grown up” women I see around me…means so much to me.

    Thank you!

    Mary Joy

  5. says

    And what is the thing that makes me come alive? At times I believe I’ve squashed it for too long and I can’t find it. Then I have that moment doing something that seems to breathe life into me. But I’ve let go and let it shrink back inside. Does that make sense? I want to be able to grasp it and hold tightly to it until it can’t retreat anymore. It’s me and it’s where God wants me to be, who he wants me to be. That quote spoke volumes to me this morning as did your words.

  6. says

    so many of us have had this same experience….
    trying to be grown up and thinking that has to look so different from what is dying to come out of us…the art of “us.”

    keep writing.

  7. says

    This is so good! I’m reading along and saying to myself, “Oh, this is so true! This is SO my story!” This past summer I did a very in-depth, guided, personality inventory thingy. It was mind-blowing for me and so providential. I told those closest to me that I felt like I was meeting myself for the first time in 37 years and I wanted to give her a hug and tell her {me} how amazing it was to finally meet her after all this time. Once I discovered who I am, I simultaneously discovered who I’m not. And it has brought all kinds of freedom and acceptance. {Turns out most people who are my “type” are artists. Who knew?}

    I love this post. It speaks to my soul. And I echo Kendal’s questions / concerns about when the art can’t come first and how to make sense of it all. Such needed dialogue here.

  8. says

    You’re so right—being grown-up is terribly overrated!

    I think I would like to be eight or ten again,when I was convinced of my brilliance and creativity and unafraid to share it.

    That whole question of “What do you really want to do?” is such a puzzle. For about twenty years, I’ve been trying to answer “What do you really want to do—within restraints of finances & responsibility,”—which is such a totally different question from “What do you really want to do?”

    Em, have you seen the VeggieTale story A Snoodle’s Tale? That’s what I want to feel like at the end—the little Snoodle who is given freedom by his maker to do what he was created to do—to make art and to fly!

    Thanks again for this series.

  9. says

    If I had a dime for every time I’ve come here and seen myself reflected in your words….especially today. Because right now, I am that twenty-something who loves song lyrics and interesting melodies and staring into the distance, but still feels so young and tries really hard to be a good grown up. How thankful I am for the heart and the words and the wisdom of a woman who’s been there and done that and passionately shares the good, bad and even the ugly of life with such beauty and grace. Many have said it before, but it’s worth repeating – you are a gift.

  10. says

    Not to be too corny, but one of the things that makes me come alive is being a wife and homemaker. I can’t lie, I stinkin’ love being home and taking care of my family! In the early days of our marriage (10 years, too) I thought I needed to be more grown up by seeking a career. Thank God I got over that really soon.

    Writing also makes me come alive and feeds my soul, a part of me that no one else can touch. I think that is one of the things I like best about it, the loneliness of it. There’s other things I love, the honesty that comes easier than when I try to form words to speak, and the connection I feel with God during all this. It is strange and wonderful, and I’m still learning that it’s a big part of who He made me. Love your blog :)

  11. says

    Wowza, girl! You’ve got it! Such a beautiful reflection and I’ve been trying to speak all that out loud, myself lately. Learning – now in my 30s – to be me. And what you said about what it is that makes us so different and how that might be what we’re trying to change about ourselves…I just love that! Sometimes I feel badly that I *talk too much* and then I think…but this is ME! This is who I am! Take me or leave me, but I will remain who I am.

  12. Nicki says

    Wow! I really enjoyed your post today. I can totally relate to the having to be a real grown up. To me being a grown up is about responsibility and not having fun anymore, which being out of the college for a few years and having lots of bills to pay now…responsibility does come with that. I am still trying to figure out how to truly be ME again, to be fun and enjoy life even with all of the responsibilities that come with it. Thank you for your post today…it was a great read to start my morning. :o)

  13. Krista says

    The exact words I needed to hear this morning. I am a newlywed in my early 20s and have been struggling with this concept. I’ve had a difficult time putting words to this feeling.

    Thank you.

  14. says


    I wrote for almost twelve years before getting any sort of positive response from the publishing world. In the midst of rejection and frustration, I kept reminding myself I had something unique to say and my work could only improve if I kept at it.

    There is deep satisfaction in honoring those things that make us who we are.

  15. says

    Oh my good heavens! This is so great. I almost want to cry, but at the same time, I’m so encouraged and energized to to let myself be free to do things that I love! Here’s a quote that someone has on their facebook page. I LURV it and I think that you will too:

    Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
    – Dr. Howard Thurman

  16. says

    I so often want to cut and paste your whole post and hang it on a sky hook for all the world to read.
    I so often think “ohhhh, she feels like that too!” and feel less odd, and less alone.

    This line: “the part of me that needed to stare off into the distance in order to feel half-way normal.”
    “Oh thank You God!”

    There are others like me. (and I am a grandmother!)

  17. says

    There is something to “putting away childish things”. But some childish things should be kept, I guess. Isn’t that where creativity, and fun, and whimsy spring from?

    And I get it a little. If this life I now have is what God has fashioned, not only through my creation, but through his hand on my circumstances, then what I have is good – always the striving for his perfection – already received – but being worked out – but GOOD.

    Tomorrow will be new, and I will be different, yet the same – and so long as I am His – that will be good. too.

    This was good thing to read today.

    thank you Emily

    God Bless and Keep

  18. amy says

    I love your quote by Gary Morland. As I was reading the list of so called faults it felt freeing because it was done with an air of acceptance rather than blame. It was perfectly timed for me because just this morning I was caught with a messy house by people I wanted to impress. I went through the usual internal conversation of criticizing and fault finding. This post, and that quote especially, has inspired me to sit down and write out these things with a different perspective, one of self love and acceptance. Thankyou!!!

  19. says

    From one who stares into space to feel normal to another… I’m there. Just finally realizing that it’s okay to be the person I am, not the one everybody else expects or even the one I imagined I’d be.

    The thing that makes you come alive. I treasure the moment I realized that Thing and accepted that it was my Creator who had set the fire burning. I’m still learning to keep at it.

  20. says

    well written! I heard once you are who you are when you were 10 years old. What made your heart jump then, may be what makes it jump now. The other think I have learned is to accept myself as God wired me. Some things we can change but most of it we can’t.

  21. says

    I don’t want to keep beating the same drum…but I will. Thank you for writing. It has been such a gift to me. I really look forward to having a cup of coffee and sitting to read your posts….because God is really speaking to me through them. Just last night I was headed to community group, which just separated the men and ladies in two different groups. I was nervous going…why?…I don’t know. I know these girls. But I guess I really don’t know me yet. I prayed that God will help me to be the me He created…not the one I am trying to create…cause all that results in is an awkward mess. Anyways, I am looking forward to really knowing me. I don’t yet. I’m 27, and hope I get a clue by 30. :) We’ll see. But I do know that I am more aware now of who He created me to be than I was 5 years ago. It’s a process…a socially awkward, yet beautiful process. :)

    Thank you as always.

  22. says

    Although I’ve “always” been encouraged to embrace my creativity, your post rings true in another area of my “being a grown up.” I truly believed that I was not a grown up because I was so passionate and enthusiastic. Because of some bad teaching, I believed that when the Apostle Paul spoke of being a child and putting away childish things, I thought that basically needed to be a quiet, completely self-controlled, always disciplined individual, and had to put away my passionate, enthusiastic ways in order to be “mature.”

    I’ve now embraced the passionate personality that my Creator instilled in me. He created me on purpose with a purpose to create with a passion that others do not have.

    I just wish the learning curve hadn’t been quite so curvy!

    • says

      I completely know what you mean! Sometimes I’m nervous to meet people who only know me from the blog in real life because I’m kind of giggly and excitable. And I’m not sure people expect that when they read me here. So there is always a bit of hesitation – like – will you still like me even though I laugh way too loud?

      • says

        I can handle giggly and exitable…but I can’t be your friend if you are part of an eighties cover band…that sings “Push it” in the maternity ward of the hospital….

        Or can I?

        Sorry, but I need a little crazy in the friends (real and imaginary) I have. Perfect makes me nervous. Come to think of it, so does clean…

  23. says

    This is so true. I’ve been thinking, in my quiet times, about how I struggle with being the woman that i am. For so long I’ve taken pieces of me and believed they are not ones that belong in the lifestyle of a wife and a mother. Only now, at 34 years old, and I finally beginning to grasp that i am able to be whoever I am. There will always be room for growth though, and that’s a good thing… there is no “set mold” and I’m finally granting myself the freedom to be ok with that.

  24. says

    Thank you. I needed this today. Been feeling like “too much” lately. I recently read something that said, “Don’t let people tell you you want too much. Did you ever hear Jesus say that? He was always encouraging others to go deeper, go for more.” Been marinating on that one too.


  25. says

    how I love this… your writing is growing, developing… you are becoming more brave with your words as you step into your courage. And I love it!

    Reading posts like this makes me so excited to read your book, is just can’t get here soon enough, sigh.

    Thanks for letting us walk this journey with you and for being so courageous in sharing your heart :)

    • says

      Thanks so much, Jenny! I feel a little more courage these days, so having you notice that means a lot. Glad you’re excited for the book. Hope it doesn’t disappoint.

  26. says

    I’ve been learning a lot of the same things. I also worry about excessive self-focus, but I agree that being true to who God made us to be is glorifying to Him and beneficial to others, NOT just ourselves.

    Thank you for your honesty!

  27. says

    I had never stopped to think that being myself is a gift to Him, but how true. To just be me. To say to Him, “Thanks. I love how you made me.”

    Thanks, Emily. :)

  28. says

    Love the photo and the quote. And love your line about staring off into space to feel normal. That is SO true of my oldest daughter (who turns 10 tomorrow!). It helps me to remember that when her shoes are in the middle of the floor, her homework is scattered all over the house, her jacket is missing….

    We readers are blessed that you no longer think of your art as a girlhood thing!


  29. Heidi says

    I just recently came across your blog since getting started on my own blogging journey, and I wanted to let you know how much I loved these thoughts and words. I will definitately be mulling them over in my heart through the day…I did the same thing when I used to read blogs as a spectator and found myself wishing I could be like those I read about….now that I am getting a start on my own writing/blogging, I feel more like being a part of a community and a participant – not just sitting around and wishing for something other than I am.
    Thank you!

  30. says

    Oh, do I ever get this. I still don’t think I’m an adult. I noticed last week you referred to someone as a “girl”, then changed it quickly to a “lady”. I laughed a little inside, because I do the same thing! I sure didn’t think my mom was a Girl when she was 34, but I wonder now if she thought she was? I’ll have to ask her.

  31. says

    I have been so blessed by your blog lately! Every time I come here, it’s like God is speaking through you to me. Just wanted you to know that your words are so encouraging and inspiring. Thank you!

  32. says

    Yes, exactly! These are the words to accompany what I have learned this year: That God made me to be me, and for a reason.

    Thank you. This post resonates deeply with me :) And I appreciate your honesty.

  33. says

    Such wise words. I wish our society as a whole would encourage children and young adults to explore who they are, to discover their gifts and talents. I never did, not until after I began homeschooling my kids and realized how important it was for them. And so as they, as young adults are continuing to explore who they are and where they fit, I am doing the same thing at 45. I always thought being a grown up would feel different, like I had “arrived”, but I guess maybe that won’t happen til we make it to heaven, lol!

  34. says

    I love this message. Society and parents teach us to conform to a certain standard. To not be weird. To just do what’s normal. Our creativity gets suppressed and we become like everyone else. But using our creativity, and playing is what makes life so enjoyable. Not sticking to what’s normal. Life is all about taking risks, not living someone else’s life.

  35. says

    i love this emily and i completely agree. He has created us all so uniquely. everyone has a story. He wants us to live it for His glory! i love you friend!

  36. says

    There is a quote I love that fits beautifully with what you have said. “The glory of God is man fully alive – St Irenaeus”. Unless we allow ourselves to be as God intended us, we don’t fully reflect His glory. As we become more in tune with who He created us to be, His glory shines the brighter.

    You continue to inspire. God bless.

  37. says

    i feel as though this post was for me. i am struggling with this BIG TIME right now.

    thank you for your words and open heart. they are truly an inspiration.

  38. says

    I think I have been at this place myself, perhaps most of us have been there at one point or another in our lives. I believe our talents are our gifts. We get to choose how we use them, or even if we use them. If we do, we can benefit the lives of not only ourselves, but those around us. Love this post today. It was uplifting and inspiring. thank you.

  39. says

    Being only 24, and newly married, I understand what you’re talking about, because I’m steeped in the middle of it. This weird desire to be a grown up (my blog name says it all) while not really feeling like one, and not knowing what that term even means. I’m realizing now that there are things I want to do that need attention instead of the things I feel like I should do. There’s a difference in there.

  40. says

    Self-centered, huh? I grinned when I got to that part. Cause I’d been reading down thinking “wow, yes, I completely feel this way, and this way, and I know it’s her story, but wow, totally.”

    Who’s the self-centered one?

    Thank you, for putting words to my heart as you share yours. You do it so beautiful.

    I like you.

  41. says

    The thoughts and concepts of this post . . . are the very reason I have devoted my life to working with women. Helping women of all ages discover that God made them just the way He wants them to be and learning to listen to our desires. So fun. I truly believe that all woman are beautiful . . . and when they believe it . . . . amazing.

    Thanks, Emily.


  42. says

    ::the part of me that needed to stare off into the distance in order to feel half-way normal.

    Love this line. The online community is such a blessing and encouragement because you find so many others who love to stare off into the distance and realize you are not alone. =)

  43. says

    For the longest time when I was writing my book I didn’t tell anyone, not even my husband. I wrote in secret. It was like I was embarassed…like it was a novelty or a phase or a whim. Maybe I kind of thought of it that way at first, too. And I was a little afraid of it — because I knew in my heart that I couldn’t stop — yet I couldn’t bring myself to admit that or tell anyone about it. I was a relief and a joy to tell my husband finally. And he was so encouraging and supportive, I wondered why I had waited so long. And then I waited yet another long time to tell my parents….even longer. In fact, I wrote the whole book (and they are in it — it’s a memoir!), and when I was home visiting, I brought them a copy of the draft. And I kept meaning to bring up the subject, but I was afraid. So I waited until the last night of my visit, and my dad announced at 9:30 p.m. “Well, I think I’ll head to bed” (we DeRushas are early-to-bedders), and I said, “Oh, I have something to tell you!” and dropped the news of the book on them like a big bomb. Needless to say they wigged out. My timing could have been infinitely better. I think this may be a blog post. What I really mean to say is that I totally, totally get this — and you describe it so, so well.

  44. says

    Wow, Emily…this post seriously could have been written about me! It seems so odd to stuff part of oneself deep down for such a reason; I’m oddly comforted that I’m not the only one who tried!

  45. susan says

    Thank you. Everytime my life takes a turn, I start out with “what do I love so much that I could do happily, if I can figure out how to change the way I ‘think’ I have to do it?” it’s always the same set of answers. And I figure out something. I am getting too old to keep running on air,tho. So that changes things. Again. Some more. So I may be growing older chronologically, much more quickly physically, and I still think like a fairly responsible 20-something, the “i can do that, I just have to work on it!” I guess it’s ok to get old, fall apart, and not grow up. If I *grew* up, I might *give* up. And I just refuse.

  46. says

    Who would be me, indeed! I feel like I’m trying to figure out how to be me, and haven’t quite done it yet. Guess I need to try harder :-)

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