McDonalds on New Year’s Day


I ate McDonalds for breakfast on New Year’s Day. Yes, I was hungover.

At 1pm the day before, do you know what I had planned for January 1st? I would wake up early, start training for my first marathon, finish a work project, deep clean my house, organize my pantry, make a budget, and write a blog post.

As I scarfed my breakfast sandwich and hashbrowns (no, of course I didn’t just get one item off the menu) trying to cure my hangover, I felt like a waste. I felt like I had fooled everyone, like maybe I was just a big, McDonalds eating failure. That sounds dramatic, but I know you’ve been here too.

I didn’t  think, “Oh, I’ll do better tomorrow.” The tapes that played over in my mind were all-too familiar. “I’m a mess. What if people knew I don’t have it all together?”

The New Year is about having a second chance, explaining why we make resolutions. Most fall in step with the masses striving to do better, eat better, and live better.

But let’s ask ourselves a question about our resolutions.

If we skip a day at the gym or drink too much or show up late to work or eat one bite of every chocolate in a box (I actually did this over Christmas and it was amazing), does that mean that we are failures?

Of course not, but it’s important to recognize those whispering thoughts that demand attention when we don’t measure up.

You see goal-setting isn’t the problem and is in fact very beneficial. But resolutions are only effective when we keep our thoughts in check.

Brene Brown has a powerful saying that explains the difference between shame and guilt, pinpointing what I believe to be a healthy state-of-mind for resolution keeping.

Guilt says, “I did something bad. I made a mistake.”

Shame says, “I am bad. I am a mistake.”

When we overindulge, when we stand in the pantry ravenous for junk food, when we have a little too much fun, when we lose a job or a friend because we screwed up-maybe we need to set resolutions. But the problem lies in what we believe about ourselves when we’re promising to do better and striving and pushing ourselves to new levels. We absolutely need to grow, but not at the expense of self-hatred.

Yesterday morning, in the middle of spiral of self-hatred, I remembered a truth that I want to share with you today. A truth that I haven’t fully let soak in deep yet, but one that came to me late one night in December and I am letting wash over me.

I may have done something bad, but I am not bad. I may have made a mistake, but I am not a mistake. I may need to workout more, get up earlier, or learn better portion control, but those parts of me don’t define me.

Brene Brown says the only way out of this shame is vulnerability. And vulnerability is sharing our stories with people we love and trust and allowing ourselves to be seen. Vulnerability is telling you that I drank too much and am very far from perfect.

Vulnerability kindof sucks. But it also rushes in big gulps of freedom.

My word for 2014 is courage. Brown explains that the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language, was from the Latin word cor, meaning heart. Courage means to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

The more I ponder this word “courage” the more I see how we miss so much of life when we choose to pretend we have it altogether. So this year, I’m praying for the courage to tell the story of who I am with my whole heart-whether or not I made it to the gym that day or ate McDonalds to cure a hangover.

Will you join me?

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13 Responses to “McDonalds on New Year’s Day”
  1. Rea. says:

    I love how honest and real this post is. Of course, courage is such a wonderful thing, wonderful word to abide by this year. I wrote a post about my word this year and it’s UNDERSTAND. I love reading your posts. They’re very inspirational. :) Wish you all the best and hope you have a courageous year ahead!

  2. Could not have loved this more.

  3. Natalie says:

    Dear Ruthie, I LOVE your post always, I cannot imagine you eat MacDonald, but I’m proud of you sharing it with us, this is courage!!! I also watched the video of Brene Brown, very inspiring, often I think of courage is to fight like a warrior, even to die for truth and honour, but courage is to be honest with our heart. My new year resolution used to be a long list, now I’m learning to love myself and grow a little bit, I know my biggest enemy is FEAR. I want to be not afraid of, things and people. This needs a lot of courage, I’d love to read your blog in 2014 along to walk with you in finding courage in honest and truth!!

    2014 will be amazing! I still have many fear of not finding a job, not having a wedding, not being able to come back from our trip to China, more and more, but I need courage and my goal is not be afraid! :-) love you. -Natalie

  4. LauraKemp says:

    I am excited to learn of your word “courage” for this year because of my own life right now. As a grad student studying to be a family therapist, I recently started going to counseling and exploring my own relational issues. My therapist wanted me to listen to the TED talks from Brené on Shame and Vulnerability, one of which I already watched because you shared it on Facebook. I just watched them both again today, though, and took notes. I’ll be reading her book Daring Greatly soon. So I’m excited to see someone else on a journey of vulnerability. Maybe courage should be my “word” for this year, too. What perfect timing, Ruthie. Thank you. :)

  5. Savannah says:

    I cannot begin to tell you how much I needed this. Thank you!

  6. Kat says:

    Thank you for posting this! It’s exactly how I felt (and Brene Brown is one of my heroes). Love your blog-keep up the good work!

  7. Steven says:

    A little perspective is that for as many anti-McDonald’s fans out there, who doesn’t eat McD’s from time to time? It is much like Walmart. Everyone has Walmart jokes, but at the same time, why is it the huge corporation it is? I can’t remember where I read it, but there were statistics that showed that the majority of people frequent both McDonald’s and Walmart, yet rarely admit it. So at the end of the day, there is no judgement here. We all like to indulge once in awhile on what may not actually even be meat and leave a store with a smile on our face after visiting our wallet’s best friend, Wally. Hypothetically, cheating with whatever food you deem “irresistibly despicable” is not a bad thing. If we didn’t once in awhile self-indulge dieting would become that much harder to carry out. Every successful dieter I have known has had cheat days. Happy New Year and I also skipped my resolve to work out on New Year’s Day…

  8. Leah says:

    Love, Love this post Ruthie (and all of them)! Thank you for your courageous vulnerability – you are touching so many with your complete honesty! It is clear God is working through you! So thankful for you!

  9. Lindsay says:

    Ruthie, I loved this post! Very encouraging and real! Thank you for sharing!

  10. Michelle says:

    Wow, what great timing-watching Brene Brown recently greatly encouraged me as well. I realized that I’ve been holding certain “shortcomings” over myself as if they are a concrete part of my identity that I am consistently unable to overcome. As a result I have spent far too much time struggling with my self-worth and sometimes hiding myself from others. But the beauty of vulnerability is that the very act of giving up power/control is what provides the strength to first admit our own imperfection and accept it, and to then choose to be agents of change in our lives. I am excited to see where vulnerability will take me in my relationships this year, and beyond. Thanks for sharing with us Ruthie :)

  11. karin says:

    I think I’ve typed, deleted, and re-written an entry 5 times now :)

    All to say you can’t imagine the timing for me coming across this post by accident this morning.

    I have the tendency to spiral right into the pits of guilt and shame whenever I fall flat on my face in sin.

    Thank you for sharing and for the reminder that our past sin does not need to define us!

  12. Rachel Hauck says:

    Oh, you are so talking my language. :)


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