What are some things you may need to let go of?

This is a blog series with posts based on questions. I hope you respond to the questions as well, on your own blog, in the comments, or just in your journal at home. I hope it helps this blog become more of a conversation than a monologue. I also hope it helps us all wrestle through the important stuff of life and faith, the kind of stuff we might ignore if left to our own devices. You can read more background and hopes here.

The first set of questions will come from Steve Wien's book, Beginnings, which I highly recommend you buy and read. However, you are welcome to participate even if you haven't read it, just by tackling the questions.

Our first question comes from page 44, at the end of Day Two, when God creates an expanse between the waters, preparing the creation for the life that is coming next.

what do you need to let go of in order to expand into who you need to become?

What are some things you think you may need to let go of in order to expand into who you need to become?

I sat across from him on the couch, legs criss-cross applesauce, listening intently. He was talking about the future of some projects we were working on together. My eyes and ears were glued to the wisdom of this older man whom I respect beyond compare. Until the conversation turned, and he began to say something affirming about me. Then, I shifted in my seat and turned my gaze to the floor. When he asked me what I was thinking, my normal ability to put thoughts into words became a stammer of "ums and ahhs." Until I blurted out, 

"But who am I?"

I followed that statement with all sorts of rational objections to his affirmations. Who am I to do these things you think I can do? Who am I for God to call me forth in that kind of way? Who am I to.... 

He looked at me, and with a conviction beyond his normal tone said, "That question is the biggest thing holding you back right now. You have to let it go."

I veer down the "who am I" road of self-doubt without conscious thought on a regular basis. It's a well-worn road that seems to draw me away whenever I look down the less-predictable and uncleared ways of affirmation and calling. 

I'm in good company on the "who am I" road. Moses thought a better speaker would have been more qualified. Jeremiah thought he was much too young. Peter went back to fishing for awhile. Self-doubt is not a new development in our human condition. 

Sometimes we even mislabel self-doubt as humility. We don't think we are supposed to see and say what we are good at doing. We fear looking conceited. Yet, Jesus was clearly humble and clearly confident at the same time. He knew his calling, he knew his gifts, and he pursued them whole-heartedly. If he is our model of what it means to be fully-human, how can we follow him down that path?

I've had a few experiences recently in which I have used my gifts and thought afterwards, "That was good." Which, honestly, feels uncomfortable. I am getting scratched by some thorns on this less-cleared way of seeing my own potential. It feels so deeply vulnerable to name our gifts. So, the "Who am I" road starts pulling me back: What if it turns out I'm wrong? What if I fail, and I'm not good at this after all? What if I look foolish? What if...? 

I love this quote by Marianne Williamson (often misattributed to Nelson Mandela),

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

I am learning to be free. I am learning to choose the path of confidence instead of the road of self-doubt. As I clear out the overgrowth, I'm discovering the surroundings are much more expansive than I realized. 

- Steph

Your turn: What are some things you think you may need to let go of in order to expand into who you need to become?

If  you are a blogger, link up with your post below. If you are not a blogger, you can also link up to an Instagram post, how cool is that? Or, maybe now is the the time to step out of the shadows and respond with a comment. I promised I will reply to all comments left. 

There is risk, but there is also great power, in sharing our longings out loud.

Now, it's time to reveal next week's question, from page 76 of Beginnings, "What are you doing when your soul is deeply glad?" 

That's going to be a vulnerable one, friends. But let's do it. Let's have the guts to say these things out loud.

Are Confidence and Humility Opposites?

I want to be known. As someone who reads this blog, you should know that I have aspirations. I want this blog to grow. I hope to have something published someday. I long to speak and write to an audience. I love being a leader, and so I hope to have followers.

These aspirations are not necessarily bad. It is good to have goals.

But yet, it feels dangerous to admit these goals to you. Because I know they are not pure.

I could use Christian-speak if I wanted. I could talk about how this was all by God’s grace and for His Glory. I could write of my desire to use my gifts to honor Him. I could quote verses about living a life worthy of my calling and working as for the Lord in all things.

I could make these goals sound all holy and God-given. And maybe I can do that because in some ways they are.

But if I am honest, it is not all about God’s glory. It is also about my own. I want validation. I am unsure of my place in this blogosphere, and I want people to say that I am doing a good job. Recognition gives me confidence. Compliments push out the self-doubt inside of me.

And then I think about Jesus, and I puddle into a heap the floor. How can I claim to follow one so self-sacrificing when I am so self-serving?

At the Passover Feast, Jesus’ disciples were fighting over who was the greatest. I judge them for having this kind of ridiculous argument in front of Jesus. But is this all that different from my posturing and striving to be known?

Jesus responds by saying,

“I am among you as one who serves.” – Luke 22:27

And though we don’t know the timing of everything for sure, since Luke and John have different details of the Last Supper, I believe that this conversation was just before Jesus did the unbelievable.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:3-5

I love the way the book of John introduces the foot washing. Why did Jesus wash the disciples’ feet? It doesn’t say He wanted to shame them. Or that He was feeling bad about Himself.

Jesus’ humble actions were birthed from His confidence.

Jesus was confident in who God was and in what God had called Him to do.  Therefore, He got up from the meal and served.

Humility and confidence are often thought of as being opposites. But as I wrote about a few weeks ago, that cannot be true. Jesus was confident and humble at the same time.

Jesus knew He did not need to strive and stress and grasp to earn respect. He knew who He was and what God called Him to do. Jesus was free to serve and love without worry of how it would affect people’s opinion of Him.

So do I have to stop having goals or lower my expectations or stay in the shadows if I want to emulate Jesus? I don’t think so. But I do need to make sure my confidence is correctly placed. My confidence should be in my identity as a child of God. He loves me, died for me, and has a purpose for me. I can be secure in Christ, no matter what kind of recognition I do or do not receive. I can work, but I do not need to worry. I can seek, but I do not need to strive.

I do not need to view others in light of what they can give me. I can be confident in what God has already given me. And from that place, I can view others in light of what I can give them.  

I can serve with confident humility.

This is what Jesus saying "I am among you as one who serves" reveals to me. What does it reveal to you?

Read the post before this one: How do you respond to death?