I don’t live in regrets, but I do look back at times and wonder how I could think what I was thinking for all those years. How did I come to be so afraid for so long, and what was I afraid of?
It wasn’t until I developed a massive cancer in 2003 that I really thought about whether the way I was living my life was doing me any good. I understand now, I was driven by trying to please others, taking on the roles they had for me, making myself up as the mirror image of who I thought was acceptable and successful and good. Nobody would’ve thought I was racked by fears and insecurities. I seemed confident and capable, and achieved a lot.
But I look back at photos of myself and see a woman desperately blending into the landscape around her. Everything about me designed to paint myself as a certain kind of person – responsible, intelligent, successful, productive, talented…..yes, “special”.
I didn’t feel special. I felt less-than. I felt I had to prove myself. So I created a persona from the outside in and hoped it would work.
Based on fear.
They don’t like me. They won’t help me. They think I’m stupid. They think I’m bad, dirty, flawed, sinful, broken. They don’t see how clever, talented and good I am. They will ignore me. They will reject me. I need to show them I am good, and good enough.
Then, one day, I realized I was sick, and getting sicker. It was clear that my body disagreed with the life I was living, and wanted out. I could keep living the pretending, prove-it-all, self-aggrandising, insecure, over-achieving life if I wanted, assuming everyone thought the worst of me and wouldn’t help me. Assuming I was so helpless and worthless I needed to prove I was worthy. I could keep living like that. But my body had decided it wasn’t coming with me.
I thank my body now for its wisdom, for “putting its foot down”. For not being willing to ride with me any longer on my fear-based marathon of trying to disprove my assumption everyone thought badly of me and I needed to prove them wrong.
Because that’s what I thought.
I am bad.
I need to show I am good.
I appreciate now why I was attracted to Christianity at such a young age. The heavily reinforced concept of being a helpless, rotten, dirty sinner who needs help and can’t do anything for themselves including be “good” exactly matched my internal view of myself.
Except, that’s not who God is. That’s not what Jesus is about. That’s not who I am.
I wonder… are you held in a “system” – a group, culture, family, tribe or way of being – because the beliefs they hold reinforce the negative way you think of and feel about yourself?
Is the picture you have of who you are really the truth? Is it what God truly thinks? And how long are you prepared to believe you’re helpless, dirty, broken, unworthy and wrong…until your body or mind or soul decides it doesn’t want to come too?
I look at all the disconnected, soulless people I know, and I think I see what happened.
Their soul had enough, and it got up and got out of there. They died a kind of death, and now they can’t see or feel it any more.
But you see it, you feel it, don’t you?
Look for the flame inside you. You already suspect you were born for more than this. You have heard a calling in your spirit, and you’ve allowed your fears to quell that voice, in your search to be safe and liked and belong. But it’s costing you. What are you prepared to pay, to stay as you are right now?
I’m grateful I listened to my body and broke out of my old beliefs. But things got much worse before they got better. I lost my business, and my marriage. My husband descended into mental illness and addiction, and my church family largely abandoned me. We imploded financially. I was left wondering why I survived cancer, to die in every other area of my life.
But as it turns out, everything I suspected in my heart about myself – but which had been undermined for years by fear – was true.
I really was strong and brave.
I really was faithful and intuitive.
I really was clever, resourceful and intelligent.
I really was capable of deep, healing love, forgiveness and trust.
I really was a capable, connected and loving mother.
I really was beautiful and worthy of the love of a good man.
What do you know? I was “good” after all.
My life is healed and healing, from the inside, right to the outside. Who you see today is who I really am. I’m not proving or striving any more. I don’t believe I’m a rotten, bad, unworthy sinner – I understand how we live in the age of Gods grace, and are fully restored to our glory in our creator. I am not afraid. I am me.
Be courageous, my friend. Freedom from fear can begin today. One step. Then another. Why not begin? Listen to that still, small voice inside you, and begin to trust it. It’s telling you the truth.
I’m for you – you’re worthy. And you’re good.
Love, Jo xxxby