Terrible Things We Tell Ourselves
By Kimberly Phinney
I have to be honest, I haven’t written much. Since the summer, I’ve fallen into a holding pattern, a radio silence of sorts. Call it a dry spell. Call it being busy. Call it what you want. I know I do… But there’s something wrong here. Why? Because I am a writer, and I am healthiest when I am writing. I am happiest when I am writing. But most importantly, I am ME when I am writing.
Lately, the majority of conversations I have with myself—and yes, I have conversations with myself— go a little like this:
“You should write.”
“I know. But—“
“But I don’t have anything to say… And besides, who am I to tell people things?”
“Well, you’ve got a point there!”
I. DO. NOT. WRITE.
I’m too good at shutting myself down. I’m too good at giving myself mounds of grief and a crappy time, even when I am doing things that others might think come naturally or easily.
Perception is not reality, my friends. And for me (like 99.9% of us), things that really matter aren’t easy one bit. No sir.
The Who Are Yous? have been one of the most damaging phrases I’ve uttered to myself my whole life. I bet you know them too: “Who are you to stand up to him?” “Who are you to teach?” “Who are you to start a business?” “Who are you to write a novel… start a blog… go to grad school???” And worse: Who are you to love yourself… to be enough… to speak up… to deserve happiness?
The list goes on and on. Right?
My Who Are Yous? are all too good at shutting me down. And if they don’t shut me down completely, they keep me captive at the crossroad between angst and unworthiness.
I hate that.
And if I’m being really honest here, these Who Are Yous? have found their way into my prayer life. I believe in prayer and God and the power of it all—I really, really do. But my belief in myself and my significance leaves a lot of room for growth. So I pray timidly. I pray small. I pray like I know nothing is really going to happen because I am the one praying. And who am I anyway? Who am I to make a difference? Who am I to be the one whose prayer changes everything?
Just WHO do I think I am???
BUT then today happened, and it was like God said, LISTEN UP, KID. Today someone wrote me a letter, and I LOVE a good letter. But this wasn’t just any letter. It was a game-changer. It was a letter that said because of my prayers, because of my love, because of my belief that SHE turned to the Lord in a dark time. SHE found peace and happiness and wholeness in a way she never had before. She said it was because of my heart and kindness that she was able to pull through.
Now, believe me when I say, my Who Are Yous? reared up really ugly-like for a second. They said, Certainly, this isn’t really true. Certainly, it wasn’t really anything special you did or believed or prayed. Who are you to make such a difference? But the black ink was there on the page saying it was true and there were tears in her eyes, so I heard God loud and clear, bending my ear: You are enough. You matter. Who are you? You’re mine. And because you’re mine, I’ve got work for you to do. Words you need to write. Work you need to do. Hands you need to hold. Prayers you need to say.
And just like that, HER spiritual breakthrough was MY spiritual breakthrough. Don’t you just love that?
So, I should write again. I should share what’s on my heart, what I’m learning, what I’m struggling with… And not because it’s about me. Mainly because it’s about HIM. Mainly because it’s about YOU.
Who am I to write to you? Who am I to say things? Who am I to pray like my prayer can move mountains? Who am I to lead? To speak up? To love myself… to believe that I am lovable? To believe that I can change the world?
I am who HE says I am. And if I don’t speak, and share, and act in this world, then I will leave a void. What if I am supposed to say things that you need to hear this very minute? What if what I write here reaches you there and helps you to defeat your own shadows of insignificance?
If I don’t even write, if I don’t even speak… or act or pray or love, then I am by my very inaction leaving a void where God could have shown up.
And who am I to leave a void? I mean, who do I think I am, anyway? If I can leave you with any thought tonight, I hope you feel like you are enough and I hope you know that you are significant and worthy of love and purpose by the sheer fact that you are here, standing in your bend of this great, expansive universe.
Please, dear friends, don’t be like me. Don’t believe the terrible things you tell yourselves. Instead, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and feel the air fill your lungs. Then exhale. As long as you’re inhaling and exhaling on this earth, then God is not finished with you yet. And after all, who are you to tell him otherwise?
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