I’ve always thought of myself as an open and transparent person. I’ve even been criticized for how open I am on this blog at times. Vulnerability has just never been a struggle for me; I’ve always seen the value in letting people in and sharing some of my deepest feelings. I do it in person, as well as behind a screen, and I’m always quick to tell people, “what you see is what you get.”
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and following a few more authors and speakers on social media. This is my dream world, so I should probably engage in it a bit, right? I’m realizing though that this vulnerability thing may have many different levels to it, and the level that I feel comfortable with on a semi-one-on-one basis is totally different than the level I’d need to be on if the dreams I dream were ever to take off.
I scroll through the feeds of role models and women I wish I could sit down and talk with and then I get this gnawing feeling in my stomach, and as Brene Brown says, the “gremlins” start talking to me. Gremlins would refer to the narrative of shame that creeps up whenever we feel less than or inadequate. Looking at these mighty women of my faith, I often feel exactly that.
“You could never do that. You’re too lazy. You’ll never be able to handle that lifestyle. You will cop out before you even get close. They would never want you in their club anyway. What if you fail?”
To be honest, I’ve allowed those nasty words to define me. I’ve submitted to the laziness claim, and I’ve let all the rest of it stand between me and what my heart actually desires. It’s a lot easier to give up than it is to press on. It’s so much easier to say, “My Facebook following is enough. I’d have to work way too hard to actually be on anyone’s radar,” to stay right where I am rather than attempt something and fall flat on my face in front of everyone (which I actually did this week, literally. I’m praying it doesn’t end up on Youtube . . . ).
These thoughts started playing on repeat last night as I nursed a sore shoulder with ice (see last parenthesis), and I honestly can’t even remember whose Instagram feed it was or what the initial reaction was, but I had to put my phone down and distract myself because my mind was going to its dark and twisty place; it was about to slip into self-pity and despair. I was about to start questioning everything I’d ever hoped for and wonder why God would give me all the things I need in order to accomplish my dreams if I was just going to wallow in bed for the next thirty years.
I stopped the thoughts but I didn’t actually deal with them, and I still haven’t, in entirety. But today I started trying to work my way through Daring Greatly again (it’s such a smart book on vulnerability but I haven’t had the time to sit and really focus on it), and I’m beginning to process why I have let those gremlins talk me out of my dreams for so long.
I am measuring myself against the people I admire and I am coming up lacking. I am judging my own value based on the value that I give to these women in my life and I am simply unworthy. When I think about living on the level that I *think* I want to live at, the amount of daily effort I feel like it will take to stay there looks incredibly daunting. I doubt my capacity. I doubt my ability to measure up and to succeed.
And then the Lord says, “Take a look at My measuring stick. Also, go get the mail.” Ok, He didn’t really tell me to get the mail, but I did, and in it was a package from a dear friend in Indiana who has had a gift for me since early this year. She keeps texting me and apologizing for not sending it; meanwhile, she’s been married for almost a year and I still haven’t sent their wedding gift. I had an idea of what was inside before I opened it up, but boy was I surprised at the words that were included. She spoke about my courage in pursuing the dreams of my heart and in the pursuit of the Father. This angel’s title is courage. I held her in my hands and tears filled my eyes because I knew the Lord was trying to get my attention. His measuring stick for me? It’s me. He doesn’t compare me to anyone else, nor does He shape His plans for me to resemble anyone else’s life.
It’s true that some of my efforts will fail, that there will be embarrassing mistakes in my novels like eyes changing color and coffee turning into tea (this is a new one. I had no idea. I don’t even like tea. What?), and I’ll probably flub my words once or twice when sharing in public, but as long as I am trying, I am measuring up. As long as I am participating, I am enough. It’s worth the risk of failure to show up for the possibilities that are ahead. That’s true vulnerability.
It’s well and good to look up to and learn from the others who have gone before me, but I have to stop measuring myself by their size and success. The Lord doesn’t measure me that way, nor does He measure anyone else by my size. If all that I am comes from Him, then I am enough, and I truly do have what it takes to accomplish these dreams. I will be able to handle whatever the Father puts in my path because He has crafted it for me, and made it to fit me perfectly.
Now the challenge is to live these true statements. To rule my thoughts and shut the gremlins down, to remember that I have been given a passion for something and I am the one in charge of turning that passion into action. My first action step? The fundraising campaign for Nor Forsake. It’s time to step it into high gear.