I don't know where to begin. So I'll just start and hope I finish where the story begins.
I remember two distinct times that I felt completely insecure which then led to total fear. The first time was in High School when the boy I had a crush on for a very long time told me he liked me. I know it sounds like that would be a dream come true, but the truth is, I had been living a double life up until about that time, and I was incredibly lost and broken and confused. I felt unworthy, and hypocritical and stupid and foolish and most like every bad teen movie. I was a cliche, which made it even worse. I didn't know who I was, so I spent years making every wrong choice to find the right one. I couldn't say yes to him because he didn't know the bad choices I had made. I was scared that he might see how lost I was. He thought I was great, and I didn't think I was. He saw good in me, and all I could see was the bad. I wasn't good enough. And so I said no. Then I graduated High School and almost immediately moved away. Running scared of...myself, really.
The idea is the same when I got my first real speaking gig. I was chosen to be the keynote speaker to 850 students my first time out. That was a big deal for me. And I was overcome with feelings of insecurity. I kept thinking, who am I that I was chosen for this role? They have this image of me that just doesn't feel true. If they really knew me, they wouldn't like me. They would have picked someone better. I am not good enough for this. Clearly I was still wrestling with self acceptance and fighting hard to make the right choices and be who I thought I was supposed to be.
Still fearful to really lean into who I was.
To say the things I really thought.
To feel like being me was the best choice.
There are lots of things to say about my past and history and all these emotions, and I can't get into all of it here. But there are a couple things I want to pull out of these experiences.
First, the more we try to hide who we really are, the more disconnect there is. We create the two selves, the one every one sees, and the one no one sees. Then we have no one to blame but ourselves for no one really knowing who we are, because we don't trust them to know. This existence is lonely and sad and full of doubt and regret. Regret because you realize you are never really living your life. Second, the only thing insecurity gives us is a life lived in fear. I am not sure where my insecurity came from, but I can attest to the life lived in fear. I used to be so afraid of everything.
Afraid to take chances, afraid to say what was really on my mind, afraid of making a mistake that I couldn't come back from, afraid of just being me. I don't know why, and at this point, most of the time I don't care why. I do know I don't want to live that way. I desire to be brave and courageous and take chances and do things my way, instead of the way everyone else is doing it. It took me a long time to get to that point. A lot of prayer and hard work and conversations with my husband who has stuck by it all and loved me anyway. I don't really live in a place of insecurity anymore. The fear creeps up every now and then when I am trying new projects or talks, but surrendering them and pushing through it comes easier. That's why I can so easily recognize these feelings when they creep back in. They are huge red flags for me, because as I said, I generally like myself.
I'm not insecure anymore, which is why this last month has been so overwhelming for me, and why I haven't written really about anything. (If you don't remember, the book campaign happened this month.) To write about anything that has happened this past month, I must first confess to the gut wrenching truth. I must tell you that I am scared out of mind. I wish to be courageous and brave and fearless, but I'm not yet there. Henry called me out on it very early on during the campaign to raise money for the book project. He would hear me self doubt and cut down and one day he interrupted me and said, "I never realized you were so insecure." My response was, "I'M NOT! What's wrong with me?" Doing the campaign was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in recent years.
It may seem like my earlier experiences have nothing to do with this moment now in my life, but in actuality, it has everything to do with it. Except, this time, there was no mask or double life. See, the thing is I have made my career and my life to be as open as possible. After spending so much of life trying to be someone I wasn't or running from who I was, or whatever my problem was, I promised myself that no matter how hard it was to be truthful, to be vulnerable and open, I would try. Even if I was ashamed of how I dealt with something, or the way I felt, I would be honest. I would embrace everything about me and invite my audience into that space with me. I will often joke with Henry that when we take the stage together, I always come across as the big hot mess who needs counseling and he has it all together. But that’s who I am, and that is why people hire me. I am not two people anymore. It’s just me. But now that it’s just me, the vulnerability is even harder, because there is no hiding.
It may seem silly to you, but it was incredibly difficult to put together a campaign asking for money to support a book that my partner and I want to write. I wasn't asking for your help for Haiti. I wasn't asking you to support a child in need in a third world country. I wasn't asking for money for any noble cause. I was asking for myself.
That changes everything.
I had to publicly put myself out there and say, “Hey! Do you see me? Do you like me? Help me make a dream come true!” And that’s fine and great, until you realize you might not get the money.
It’s like waiting to get picked for the kickball team all over again, except its just not your class that knows no one wants you, it would be everyone.
That month of the campaign had me praying for God to release this hold on my heart more than I can ever remember. I didn't want you all to have power over me. I only wanted to care about being obedient to God’s call in my life.
But the trick is, to be obedient to that, I needed the money, which meant I needed to pay attention to the campaign and ask. I had to put myself out there, over and over and ask for help. Ask you to believe in me.
And then you did.
But you didn't just give to meet the goal, we surpassed every goal we had and more money than we budgeted. I am still having a really hard time wrapping my head around that one. My heart was pounding a mile a minute the day we surpassed our goal. It wasn't a dream anymore, it was reality.
HOLY CRAP it is now a reality!
Now I can't run or hide or be lazy. You said you believed in me, in us, and now we get to do something amazing.
Have you ever felt like sometimes it easier to sit on your couch and dream of all the really cool things you could do, and in your imagination, you are awesome, talented, you don't screw up because you know exactly what you are doing, and you win everyone over because you're amazing? But because you know deep down, that really isn't reality. Reality looks like hard work and trying over and over and making mistakes and taking risks and lots of practice. And in the end, the risk that you might not even be very good at the thing that you dream of doing with your life.
I think that's why we sit on our couch. Our imagination version of ourselves could never compare to the reality of who we are. People who are risks takers, brave and courageous the people who don't leave life with regrets are the one's who kill and bury the dream version of themselves and instead, just live their life. They embrace their real self and go for it, leaving it all out on the table.
I have a tendency to be the couch sitter. But I am tired of that. I want to be a dreamer, a risk taker, a brave spirit with no regrets.
That's why I feel overwhelmed. Not by the to-do list, though it is extensive. I am trying to embrace a new reality and truth for myself. I am trying to forge a new way of really, truly embracing all of me, letting go of all false selves and live my dream.
I asked you to believe in me and you did. Can you even comprehend what that means for someone who spent so much time hiding away? Again, overwhelmed.
So many of you went out of your way to encourage me, say nice such kind words about my ministry and my dream. I didn't ask that of you, you volunteered it, willingly. Again, overwhelmed.
Even more of you said that by pursuing this dream, you felt inspired to want to do more with your dreams. That is HUGE! I am so humbled and honored to be apart of that process that God is doing in your life. Again, overwhelmed.
I sit on the brink of a new beginning to my ministry and our life. Something has shifted and changed in my career. I can't explain it fully, but I can tell, things are beginning, or shifting, or changing. I still am a little nervous, because I don't know what that means, but I know that God is in this with me, and my husband and my children.
Feeling this emotionally overwhelmed the last month has made it hard to process. So I went to a friends cabin for the weekend as a personal retreat.
That is part two of this story.