So it’s hard. Don’t do it if you aren’t determined to make it work from the beginning. Because, did I mention it’s hard? But there are ways to help it function a little better. These are a few principles I wish I’d realized a long time ago.
You can do anything you set your mind to.
I hate that phrase.
What does that mean? It’s so generic. So broad. So cliché. It’s the exact opposite of inspiring, because every time I hear it, I think, “Really? ANYTHING? Let’s get real.”
Let’s revamp that phrase into something specific, something a little more practical, something that makes sense.
You are more capable than you realize.
… We can do better than that …
You can do things outside your realm of normal.
… Truth … but there’s more …
Don’t limit yourself to who you THINK you are or what you THINK you can do. MOREOVER, don’t limit yourself to what others believe you can do. (A) Because they probably don’t think what you think they think (follow me?) and (B) because they are who the enemy uses to keep you from being amazing.
Those doubts you have? They are, in fact, confirmation that your ambition could turn into something incredible. Satan hates incredible.
Several years ago, I was having a conversation with an acquaintance. He didn’t know me, just knew of me. He knew what I did, not who I was. However, he’d apparently already formed an opinion on me based on that. He was explaining to me that his brother was writing a book. At an attempt at lighthearted conversation I laughed and said, “When I was younger, I used to always write books. I bet I started ten books that I never finished,” to which he replied, “Oh yea? What did you write about? Shopping and cheerleaders?”
(secretly… okay obviously not so secretly… I hope he’s reading this)
The fact that I can remember this conversation after two pregnancies is proof that this struck a very deep nerve. I have never been so offended, so (excuse me but…) pissed off in my life. I am SO passive aggressive, but that’s the closest I’ve ever been to exclusively being aggressive. I hate to call him Satan, but it is what it is. Because I had always had this idea of what others thought about me — and in that moment, he spoke over me what the enemy had been whispering for years.
Somewhere in my life I started listening to voices, confirming my roles. “This is who you are. Know your role. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Others will know you’re a fake. Don’t try to drive outside your lane.” And at some point I’d turned God’s gifts into my own twisted list of faults. I had turned Academic into Not Smart Enough, Athletic into Butch, Low-Maintenance into Plain, Laid Back into Irresponsible and Lighthearted into Silly and Shallow.
I have lived in this identity my whole adult life. While I think I hid it well, I hated myself every time I locked my keys in my car, every time I forgot my homework, every time I misplaced the nipple shield (shout out to all you breastfeeders), every time I did something that would allow someone to say, “Typical.” Because what that translated to me was, “That is who you are. And you can never be more than who you are.”
Well. There is more to me than Athlete. Mom. Wife. Teacher. Goofball. Just because those are my expected roles, doesn’t mean they are my only roles. They don’t define me. I can live outside of them. I can be more than them. Because God made me more than just them.
And humility doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of that fact. I love this quote by C.S Lewis: “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” I’ve totally had that backwards. for. ev. er. I have coupled ambition and boldness and purposefulness with pride and arrogance and “taking yourself too seriously”ness. And I have mistaken humility for sheepishness and self-mockery. Confidence is not cockiness, it’s a commitment to God to take advantage of what he formed in you, an admission that what he created is pretty dadgum awesome, a determination to thank him by actually putting it to good use.
Here’s the bottom line. We can allow God to use us in ways outside of our normal, our realm of “okay.” We don’t have to just be who we’re expected to be. We only have one life, so we might as well squeeze the life out of this one that we have.