So, here we are — another weekly installment of #TellHisStory.
But let me be up front. I didn’t bring a story. I brought only my vulnerability.
Listen, I want to tell you how scared I get. Except that’s not really true: I don’t want to tell you how scared I get. But I’m going to anyway.
I don’t want to share my fear with you, because it feels like you’re seeing more of me than I want to show you. It feels like I’m unzipping my heart. And it feels like I’ve done a poor job of listening to my own good advice about being brave in the fact of fear.
But here’s the flat-out truth. I do get scared. Of failing. Of falling. Of seeming incompetent. Of losing credibility — or of never having had it in the first place.
“Fear Isn’t the Boss of Me”
You know, I tap away at these computer keys and tell you how much I believe in you, dear reader, YOU! I have devoted miles of words — multiplied by the thousands — to encourage you to step into your crazy-brave. I would bend over backward to tell you how your one life matters. To tell you you’re PreApproved. To tell you that fear isn’t the boss of you.
I have cried fat tears while writing those words to you — both on my blog and in my book. Because I’m unwaveringly passionate about that message. The cry of my heart is this — for all of us to know the truth about ourselves, rather than running around seeing ourselves as incompetent, unloveable, and utterly unqualified. Because we are so quick to believe otherwise. I know how women shrink back, because of their fear of failing. I long for women to know their worth.
Do you know how easy it is to tell someone else that they’re amazing, then turn around and look in the proverbial mirror and see mostly the flaws?
Insecurities rise up like a tidal wave, and there’s years worth of fear behind that one wave you’re seeing right here.
Those waves multiply on days like these. I know I’ll be spending some time on a stage this weekend, in front of a group of amazing women. I have reams of notes, and a message that I believe came from God, whose Spirit lives in me. But speaking is far outside of my comfort zone. Think in terms of: whole different time zone, dimension, solar system.
Fear grips me something fierce, at times. I’m afraid that I’ll let someone down. I fear that, when I’ve been invited to speak, or to be a part of a group of fantastic communicators, that I only “got in” because no one was guarding the back door. And that before long, I’ll be unmasked for the incompetent person I am. That feeling of pre-assumed incompetency is one of the most pernicious Love Idols that I’ve had to stare down in my life.
And it’s an almost-daily stare-down. (If you’ve already read my book, you’ll be familiar with the concept: “The Cure is the Process.”)
Writing, As a Way to Remember
I saw a Tweet in my Twitter feed earlier today, from Sole Hope, and it was such solid advice, that I thought, “Wow, I have seriously GOT to apply those words to my life today.”
This was the Tweet:
“Bravery isn’t about being fearless. It’s about being less controlled by your fear.”
Yeah, I thought to myself, those are some pretty good words.
I let that Tweet sink in before I realized what I was seeing. Sole Hope was quoting ME, from a post a write weeks ago!
This is a great illustration of what I’m talking about. I can write words, and feel them so deep that they make a holy burn on my insides. But my own insecurities cool the flame.
So the encouraging words I write aren’t just for you, but for my own shaking self.
Listen, I struggle with all the things you struggle with:
Feelings of “not enough.” Fear of failing. Concern over tomorrow. I stress out about my health, my children, the instability of our world, the future, and my perceived lack of qualification. So any time you see me writing about any of those quandaries, I’ve probably got a foot stuck in the middle of one of those messes. And I’m looking for Jesus to “unstuck” me. The words I write are braided, like a rope to help me out of the pit I’m stuck in.
The Benefit of Repeating Old Truths
So, on days like these, I have to remind my own self that I am preapproved. You know why? Because it’s terribly easy to believe otherwise. Yeah, we are Jesus People. And we know that our worth isn’t defined by the people in the bleachers or the scoreboard on the wall.
But it’s so tempting to believe what we don’t really believe — to believe that our value lies somewhere outside of our Savior. Even among Christians — despite what we know in the depths of ourselves — there is great expectation for being noticed, significant, competent, valuable.
This isn’t a new phenomenon.
Turn back the clock to a dinner table where Jesus of Nazareth broke bread with His closest friends. The clock is ticking toward Jesus’ betrayal and death, but a dispute arises among the disciples “as to which of them was considered to be the greatest.”
It’s simply a part of being human: We want to be known. We want to be great. We want to know that we have as much value as the guy sitting next to us. We compare. And scroll and refresh. And wonder … What worth do I have among the sea of other faces?
That doesn’t make us bad. It makes us human.
So much of what we desire here on Earth is really our hearts crying out for immortality. When our earthly hearts beg to be seen, loved, significant and known, this is what’s really happening: our very own souls are stretching arms toward our forever-inheritance.
And God is reaching back to us, whispering this into our hearts: You already are…. You are known. You are loved. You are approved. You don’t have to be so scared.
(See what I’m doing up there? I’m reminding myself. I’m repeating old truths. And yes, there are tears again. And this time, I don’t care if you see them a little.)
My friend, Lore Ferguson, shared an article from The Atlantic on Facebook earlier today about why writers are procrastinators, and how we can be paralyzed by the prospect of writing something that isn’t good.
The author of the article said this: “This fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you ‘really’ are is so common that it actually has a clinical name: impostor syndrome. A shocking number of successful people (particularly women), believe that they haven’t really earned their spots, and are at risk of being unmasked as frauds at any moment. Many people deliberately seek out easy tests where they can shine, rather than tackling harder material that isn’t as comfortable.”
The author quotes Pastor Steven Furtick, who once said: “The reason we struggle with ‘insecurity’ is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
I have struggled with “imposter syndrome,” fearing that I am sorely unqualified. But today? I called out my imposter self. That’s why you’ve seen a little bit more of my “behind-the-scenes.” Maybe that’s worth something. I don’t know. I hope it is. Maybe this lets you know this is as safe of a place as you had hoped. We are among friends. We have thrown away the highlight reel.
Stepping Out on My Wave
Many years ago, Casting Crowns wrote a song called “The Voice of Truth.” The song includes lyrics that harken to that moment when Peter steps out of the boat, onto waves.
It goes like this:
“Oh what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
to climb out of this boat I’m in
onto the crashing waves.
To step out of my comfort zone
into the realm of the unknown
where Jesus is
and He’s holding out His hand.”
I’m stepping out of the boat. This is my wave right here: This blog post, … and every crazy-brave yes to speak, to write, to serve. No, I am not fearless, but I am going to be less controlled by my fear. I said that once. I guess I needed to say it again.
And if I forget? Well, maybe you or Sole Hope or Lore Ferguson or someone will remind me.
I’ve got one foot out of the boat, just now, and I think I feel you beside me, foot poised to leap.
It doesn’t feel safe. But staying in the boat seems far more dangerous. Because Jesus isn’t sitting in this boat. I see Him out there, already standing on the wave, one hand out.
So, what’s your Story?
A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.
You’re invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.
Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, … your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.
Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.
Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.
A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?
For more details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here. Share the love of story by visiting someone else in the community!