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Twenty years ago, I sat in my high school guidance counselor’s office and listened as he explained, in great detail, why I needed to make plans for something other than a business degree. He wasn’t a bad guy. He was a good guy. A good guy who was tasked with the difficult role of guiding a teenaged version of me.  No part of that could have been easy.  And He was weighing loads of factors on my behalf that included things like my so-so math grades, my inability to show up to class with the same level of regularity as my peers, and the stringent acceptance guidelines at the private universities where most of the kids in my town ended up.   

Many words came out of his mouth on that afternoon, several of which were probably encouraging, but all I heard was “You are not good enough.” It was a suspicion that had been slowly growing within me already, and this was just one more piece of evidence that confirmed it. 

Soon those three words began to define me. Not good enough. Not good enough for my plans and not good enough for the people and places surrounding me.

From there, I began to live my life in such a way that I would never have to hear those three words from anyone else again. I guarded myself through each step that I took, careful not to try too hard at any one thing and run the risk of failure or rejection.  

Somehow, despite myself, I managed to marry the man of my dreams. Together we are raising the girl of our dreams. Suddenly, with her watchful eyes on me, I started to realize that if I continued to set the bar at “not good enough,” then my smart, talented, and capable little girl was going to do the exact same thing. That wasn’t going to work. 

The truth is that, alone, I am not good enough. But with God leading me, I am not just good enough; I am wonderfully made. I am a writer with semi-comical tendencies. I love dirt and seeds, but that doesn’t always equate to a thriving plot. I get lost in Scripture and believe the Bible is the most compelling book ever written. I think life is best spent with animals around you. I lose everything, from my keys to my wallet to my glasses, but I always know where my mud boots are and my feet are most comfortable when they are in them.  I am terrible at math and probably would not have cut it in business school, but that was never where I was supposed to be.  

At fifteen I spent most of my time battling frizzy hair and my low self-esteem
— Mustard Seeds & Water Lines

Karen Milioto is a former Bostonian who now resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is a wife, mother, writer, and mediocre gardener. On most days, she can be found in her barn, surrounded by her horses and dogs, with Scripture in her mind and mud on her boots. Find her online at www.karenmilioto.com.

photos by Brittney Banta-Troxclair Photography