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Thoughts on a Rainy Wed. Afternoon

"How to Listen #7" - Jacqueline Woodson

The constant refrain in my head most days sounds something like this:

"I am not enough."

Not smart enough, talented enough, educated enough, pretty enough, disciplined, friendly, happy, loving, energetic, warm ... you name it, I don’t think I live up to it. I often worry that people don’t really like me, but are just being polite, because I’m not worth anyone else’s time. I struggle to believe I'm competent or know what I’m doing in nearly every arena of life. Like I’m a six-year-old walking around in my Mother’s high heels, but I am not rocking it. No, I’m about to fall over, and everyone in the world will point and laugh.

But the truth is I’m doing the best I can. I’m not perfect, and I’ve made a ton of mistakes, but I do love my husband. I do love my kids, and there are lots of things I can do pretty well. And I’m allowed to be proud of those things without becoming an egomaniac.

One of the things I can do is write. So I wrote a book. It took me eight years and I stopped and started many, many times, but I did it. I set a goal of writing fifty-thousand words about a particular theme, and I did it. Almost. The final version of my book is about two-thousand words shy of fifty-thousand, but there are lots of words I ended up taking out by the end of the process.

And now that book is nearly ready to present to the world, or at least my small corner of it. And I’m freaking out a little. Because I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and I want to share it with people. But I’m also scared. I worry that no one will read it, and that whoever does read it won’t like it. I’m worried that the people who’ve shared their time and talents to help me complete this project will be disappointed, that I won’t live up to their expectations, that I’ll crash and burn and no longer be able to leave my house without wearing a bag over my head in shame.

But the truth is that I can’t control how other people react to my work. The truth is that I’ve done all that I know to make this a good product, and even if everyone hates it, it’s not the end of the world. The truth is that my mom and dad and all my friends who’ve already read the manuscript enjoyed it. The truth is that when I’m not ruled by fear and anxiety, I can come up with creative solutions to whatever life throws at me. That's when I can operate more like my true self. Like someone who wrote a book and wants to share it with the world.

Because I’m a Christian I believe that I already have the ability to love. To experience joy and peace, to practice patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control. Even with myself and my anxiety ridden mind. And I can choose to draw strength from those virtues even if the anxiety and fear never go away. I can step away from the emails and the social media accounts and the statistics and be honest about how overwhelming it all feels. I can write my crazy thoughts down in a journal and I can pray for help to remember that no matter what happens with this book in the next month or so, I’m still loved.

I’m loved and I’m wanted and I’m good enough, not because of anything I do or don’t do, but because the Maker of the stars says so. And my opinion (or anyone else’s for that matter) matters a lot less than his. He says I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, that I bear his image, which is perfection. That I matter, that he sees me, he knows me, and he loves mealong with all of his creation.

So whatever your constant refrain is, or whatever you struggle against, I want you to know that you are also loved. Not just because I said it, but because it’s true. It’s as real as the skin on your bones and the eyes you’re using to read this post. Because God made you. For this moment, for this hour, for this day. For this year. Yes, this crappy year. You are here, and you are worthy of love and belonging. No matter what. And if you can’t find the strength to believe that right now, then turn off your cell phone. Put away your laptop, get quiet for five minutes and ask Jesusor the universe, or whatever you believe into show you.

I can't promise you'll feel something right away, but I'm praying right now that you'll begin to believe it anyhow. Any amount of faith is still faith, friends, no matter how tiny.



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