Can I be honest? I was afraid to write this post--afraid of opening myself up too much. Afraid of letting people see a little too deep into who I was and what I struggle with. And you know what's ironic about that? This post is all about fear.
I recently took part in a virtual writing retreat hosted by Realm Makers. Author and speaker Allen Arnold presented five wonderful sessions that made up the whole course, entitled Unleash Your Story. In a nutshell, it was about how we, as creators, can learn how to co-create with God. But to do that, we have to examine our own hearts and motives.
Another bonus session was a class by NYT bestselling author Tosca Lee: Have no Fear, Tosca Lee is here. A fun title for a serious topic.
Both presenters spoke extensively on the subject of fear holding us back. And I listened to both, agreed with what they said, and scribbled down as many notes as I could.
But it wasn't until after the retreat had ended, on Sunday night--Valentine's Day, no less--that it really hit me. I was spending a good portion of my life hiding. I sat there in bed, absorbing the revelation as one after another, all that I've hidden or hidden from rolled through my mind.
*I hide my face. ("I'll never be as pretty as other women.")
*I hide my voice. (Years of students asking me why I talk funny and my hearing impairment has left me very aware that I talk differently.)
*I hide my hearing aids. (I claim to be unashamed of my hearing loss, yet I still felt the need to keep my hearing aids concealed.)
*I hide my opinion. ("Well, I don't want to make anyone mad.")
*My feelings. ("I don't want everyone to see how excited I am, just in case it doesn't work out. And I certainly can't let people know how disappointed I am.")
*My writing. ("I'll wait until an agent or publisher accepts it. Then I'll know it's good enough.")
*My house. ("It's just a plain basement house. Not as nice as everyone else's.")
*I hide from conversations. ("I can't hear everything. Or I won't know what to say.")
*I hide from confrontation. ("I don't want anyone to be upset with me.")
*I hide from taking risks. ("I might fail.")
*I hide from relationships. (They may not last.)
*I hide from the phone. ("I can't understand them.")
*I hide from sharing about my life. ("No one wants to hear about what I'm doing because I'm not married or don't have kids.")
And it goes on and on.
In short, I hide myself. And why? Because I'm afraid I will fall short. Afraid I won't make people happy. Afraid I won't be accepted as I am. Quirky. Simple. Plain. Imperfect. Daydreamer. Different. Socially awkward. Hard of hearing. A little slow at catching on at times.
Then I went a little deeper. WHY was I afraid of these things? And the truth hit me hard.
Because I have been valuing man's view of me more than God's. I was basing my own self-worth on the opinions of others' rather than the fact that I am a daughter of the King, the Creator--the One who created ME, as a matter of fact.
It was a little hard for me to swallow. After years of talking about finding satisfaction in God, rather than in a husband, I was face-to-face with the fact that I was STILL looking for happiness in man. Maybe not in the romantic sense, but it was still there.
As a result, I felt so low about myself and my abilities. I would never measure up. I would never be as popular as so-and-so. It was beginning to wear on my mental, emotional, and even physical health.
I know in my heart that man cannot make me happy. Only God can. But I've recently fallen in the trap of trying to keep other people happy, in trying to please everyone else but myself (and God), in trying to keep up with what I saw as the "standard" in physical appearance, personality, gifts and talents, and material gains.
But you know what? I can't. I can't keep up with what everyone else thinks I should be or do. And I'm tired of trying.
The problem won't go away overnight. This is something I will have to fight to overcome. But there is something freeing in just stating it out loud. In writing it down and in sharing it. And I know I'm not the only one who has struggled with it. I see it around me everyday, individuals as young as my first graders all the way up to great-grandparents all trying to be accepted. So many of us feel like we have to be something different than what we are to please everyone else, to impress everyone else. When really, everyone else doesn't matter. Not when it comes to who we are.
I am a child of God. He created me ON PURPOSE. He wanted one of me here, with all my quirks and imperfections. He loves me that way. While He wants to see me become a better version of me, He does not wish for me to become someone different than me.
And that thought brings me so much comfort and joy. God accepts me just as I am. Ultimately, that's all I want. All I need.
I will struggle with this again, I am sure. But I'm taking a step FORWARD. (Hey, there's one of my words for the New Year!) I'm starting the change now. (And let me just make it clear that, no, that doesn't mean I'm going to start sharing and posting EVERYTHING about my life, because I am still, by nature, a private person. And I truly believe that, while it has some benefits, social media is part of the problem.)
Now that I've made the decision, I'm excited to see what happens. I'm waking up with expectancy for what God is going to do. I'm looking forward to doing life as me. Just little ol' me. Lol
So, what about you? Are you hiding your true self? Let's make this step together. Because, you see, God made YOU on purpose, too. We can grow and change and be better, but He wants one of you in the world, too.
We are loved. We are His. We are...
In His Grip!
"For God has not given us the spirt of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7