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 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.
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.