There. I said it.
I started this blog to be able to write–I LOVE writing!–yet now, I’m terrified to hit that little orange button that says “publish.” Oh, I haven’t stopped writing. No, I’ve typed thousands of words. There’s more than a dozen posts just sitting in my drafts folder waiting…
Waiting for what? Perfection? Waiting to sound like someone else’s writing? Waiting to be written by a blogger who has a million followers and who “knows what she’s talking about?”
You know why I think all those words are just sitting there in a multitude of “drafts,” never to see the light of day on this blog?
Fear and pride.
I don’t want to be let down. I don’t want to put myself out there and fall flat on my face. I’m afraid people won’t like what I say. I want everything I say to be “perfect” or to at least seem as perfect as I can possibly make it. I want to be/look/act like everybody else thinks I should.
Does any of that feel familiar?
When we post on social media, do we ever find ourselves thinking, “how will this [picture, comment, idea, etc.] measure up to everyone else’s stuff? Will they think I’m [dumb, silly, ugly, stupid] or [smart, witty, pretty, perfect]? Do we agonize over every little bit of our lives we “publish” online? Are we afraid to be real?
What I’ve also realized lately is that, whether we mean to or not, everyone is “publishing” constantly. Even if we’re not on social media (which is probably very few people nowadays), our lives are always on display. When we invite people into our homes, we’re publishing our housekeeping skills (or lack thereof). When we make small talk at a wedding, we’re publishing our communication skills (or again, lack thereof!)
So where does being afraid come into play in this “publishing”? If you’re like me and you do that last minute crazy run around the house before company comes, could that be fear? Fear born of pride? My pride says I want everyone to think I always keep my house spotless, therefore I’m afraid to let them see that it sometimes looks like a bomb went off…
We carefully craft every situation, making every attempt to hide our flaws, afraid to show the real us.
Speaking of weddings and small talk, let me share with you how this idea first occurred to me: being afraid can actually be closely related to pride.
This past weekend we went to a wedding. It was an 8-hour drive each way. We drove there on Saturday, attended the wedding in the afternoon, and drove back home on Sunday. It was a crazy, fun family adventure for sure!
But this morning, as I thought back over the whirlwind weekend, I began to pick out certain instances and interactions that I realized were severely tainted by my pride.
We arrived and checked into our hotel a mere 30 minutes before the wedding was to start and rushed to change into the wedding outfits I’d carefully ironed the night before. I opened our suitcase and suddenly realized….I’d left the clothes at home. Yep, they were hanging on the hook inside my closet door, right where I’d put them so they wouldn’t get wrinkly.
So now, we were attending a wedding wearing…T-shirts. I sported the gray one I’d been wearing all day in the car that smelled faintly of McDonald’s fries, and my husband happily wore his black one that he’d also been wearing all day. (I’m blessed with such a wonderful man who always has such a good spirit about things like this.) His response (with a smile) was, “Well, at least we’ll be comfortable!”
I was happy to be physically comfortable, yes, but inside, a battle was raging. It increased as we hurried into our seats in the back row and I looked around at all the women dressed in their cute little summery dresses with their perfect hair and flawless makeup…or at least that’s what I saw. I knew I fell far short of the “standard.”
Until I found her.
You know the one. The one woman who was a little heavier than all the rest, whose hair wasn’t so perfectly “done up.” The mom whose children didn’t behave as good as mine.
I found her at that wedding and as I watched her, I slowly began to feel better about myself. “Well, at least I don’t [look, act, parent] like her.”
I am so ashamed…
While I was busy judging myself against everyone else, weighing my perceived value or worth against everyone else in that room, I fell headlong into that awful pit of pride. I found that one person who I felt was “lower” than I and focused nearly all of my attention on her in order to make myself feel better in a situation where I was afraid I didn’t measure up.
Yet, although she had so much of my attention, I never spoke to her. She probably didn’t even realize I noticed her. I didn’t go over and introduce myself. I didn’t ask about her story or where she was from. I didn’t learn the names of her children. I didn’t do all of that because then, I wouldn’t be able to just sit back and judge her. It was much more comfortable to sit in my chair and quietly observe her from the corner of my eye, slowly allowing myself to puff up with pride…
God hates that. He says in Proverbs 8:13, “…pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” That’s a powerful statement. There are few things in the Bible that God expressly hates, but first in this list in Proverbs 6 is “a proud look.”
In many instances, pride is so insidious that we don’t even realize we’re prideful until we take a minute to stop and think back about our behavior. It’s like pride is that one sin that is ok. Pride feels so natural, so ingrained a habit we can’t imagine not doing it.
So how does being afraid lead to pride?
Our culture bombards us constantly with this idea that you have to be a certain way in order to “publish.” “If you want to be accepted, you have to act or look just like this. And if you’re not, well then, just whatever you do, don’t tell anyone. Just keep your life to yourself because you don’t fit in. You’re not qualified. You’re different. You’re weird. You never say the right things. You’re not cool…”
Does that sound awfully negative to anyone else out there or is it just me? It’s like the devil comes along and takes up residence on our shoulder, whispering all these lies straight into our ear.
And, instead of taking our fears and insecurities straight back to God (the One who created us to be just like we are and loves us unconditionally, the One who would whisper truth into our ear), we do what I did two days ago at that wedding.
We look around us and we find someone to judge. Someone to compare ourselves to who is just a little bit “less” that we are. And, at least for a while, in our pride, we can keep the fear at bay. We can “publish” little bits and pieces of our lives, letting others see only what we want them to see, while keeping the rest of it covered up. Because if they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me.
That is a lie from the great Deceiver himself.
God gave each one of us unique talents and gifts.
He has called each and every one of us to fulfill our own individual calling. God does not want me to be Scissortail Silk (a wonderful blog, by the way! Go check it out!) And He doesn’t want you to be anyone other than who you are. Right now.
God doesn’t want you to be who you’d like to be in 5 years. He doesn’t want you to be who you wish you were. He wants you to be YOU today.
So, unplug from social media for a while if you need to. (I did for about 6 months this past year and wow, it was awesome!) Take a break from TV. Set aside the ladies magazines that command you to think or look or act a certain way.
Live in that purpose today. Choose to embrace your life, not spend your life wishing you had someone else’s.
That is my desire and prayer today…and every day from now on. Yes, I know I’ll slip up. (Probably like, this afternoon.) 🙂 But I’ll try to remember to just ask God for forgiveness, and once again choose to live in my life with humility. I’ll ask God to give me eyes to see others, not as my competition or as a mirror from which I judge myself, but as another precious person God placed here to fulfill a special and unique purpose.
How about you? Will you join me?
Two of my favorite songs that I love to listen to when the fear creeps up are Who I Am by Blanca and Beautiful For Me by Mercy River. These songs help remind me of God’s unending love for me, just as I am.
God doesn’t want us to be afraid or ashamed of who we are. He made us. He loves us. He’s called us. Let’s fulfill that calling.
Ok. Now, I’m going to hit the “publish” button…