Posted in Mom Power

“What U Workin’ With?” Sage wisdom from Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani

Are your kids as into the movie Trolls as mine are?  We are a little late to the party since we didn’t see it in the theater (because we can’t hold still that long yet), but we just got the DVD and although we are late, WE ARE VERY MUCH AT THE PARTY!

Kenzie runs through the house shouting “NO TROLL WEFF BEHINE!” multiple times daily.

And the soundtrack- OH, THE SOUNDTRACK!  Cam has it on his iPod and it’s become my go-to when I need TWO CONSECUTIVE SECONDS OF PEACE in the car.

It was just such a moment, one in  which the Trolls soundtrack was giving me a blessed break from sibling squabbles, that the most amazing lyric jumped out at me like a Bergen at Trollstice.

“What U Workin’ With” is basically a kid-friendly club anthem, the usual “move it and work it” narrative with family-safe spin. If you’re unfamiliar with the song, scroll to the end of the post and click “play” on the video and listen while you read.

But at the end of the bridge, Justin Timberlake drops the following truth bomb”

“It ain’t about, ain’t about, it ain’t about what you not. So what you workin’ with?”

Let that sink in for a moment…

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Thank you, Justin, for pausing with us.

But you guys, do you realize that that quote is EVERYTHING!?!?!

“It ain’t about what you not!  So what you workin’ with?”

Women, AND PARTICULARLY MOMS, spend an awful lot of time focusing on what we are not.  We aren’t organized enough, patient enough, skinny enough, put together enough, you name it.  There’s always SOMETHING that someone else is that we aren’t that we feel like we should be.

But how often do we stop to take inventory of what we ARE working with, the wonderful things that we- AND ONLY WE- offer to those around us often without realizing it? I know for me the answer is just about never.

We live in a performance-driven culture in which we are always being urged to move to the next thing, to be better, to do better and to keep our eyes on the prize. Self-help books and blogs, meetings with our supervisors at work, for teachers like me the ever-increasing standards for my students- it all pushes us upward, keeps us focused on what we could be doing better. I have a list a mile long of all of the things I’m not, all of the things I need to get better at, and all of the things I admire in others.

But that list doesn’t tell the whole story.  That list makes Gwen Stefani angry.

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BECAUSE IT AIN’T ABOUT WHAT I’M NOT!!!!

So…the existential question: what AM I workin’ with?

THAT is where my heart and mind should be dwelling.  THAT is what I should be focusing on and running after. Not the things that I’m not, but the things that I AM! What is it that I bring to the world, to my family, to the Justin Timberlake/Gwen Stefani dance party of life? If you’re like me and have a hard time finishing the sentence, “Well, I’m really good at _______” or “My best quality is ________,” then we may be better suited to approach it from the angle of, “I feel most like myself when I am _______________” or “________________ comes naturally to me.”

For those who are Bible-readers like me, scripture tells me that we are formed in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), God takes great delight in us (Zeph 3:17). I mean, I have to be actually pretty wonderful because GOD DOES NOT MAKE JUNK!

“IT AIN’T ABOUT WHAT YOU NOT, SO WHAT YOU WORKIN WITH?”

If we all wrapped our brains around that and worked to live into what we’re workin’ with and stopped worrying about what we’re not- can you imagine what that would look like, a world full of  moms who aren’t held down by thoughts of what we are not and are walking through the world basically throwing sparkle all over the place like that troll who sings in Autotune and toots glitter?

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Now, I’m not saying we should abandon self-improvement and ignore areas of opportunity for growth, that would not be helpful at all. But if we saw those things as ways to IMPROVE on what we are already workin’ with, ways to become even better versions of who we were created to be? The lies that the world has to tell us about not being enough would be SHUT DOWN and would hold no sway over us. NO SWAY, I SAY!!!!!!

So let us take the sage words of Stefani and Timberlake into the world with us this week, and the next, and the next. It’s not about what we aren’t, it’s about what we are. About what we, AND ONLY WE, are workin’ with as only we can.

Now please enjoy some tunes. And dance in front of a mirror. It’s good for you.