I LIVED MOST OF MY life feeling like a fraud.
For example, it happened when I was told I was smart, and I knew I wasn’t that smart but thought I was just lucky. Or when I was told I was nice, and I knew I wasn’t that nice, but the occasion made it appear like I was. I was told I was successful when I knew I wasn’t that successful but all my position, power, and possessions made me look that way.
I knew I wasn’t as special as people said I was but I couldn’t deny that I appeared to be special. I was a high achiever and always moved up the ladder quickly in my jobs by being a top producer and top performer, but it wasn’t because I was special. I think it was because I was more afraid than most people.
People saw my positive attitude, hard work, and decision to be a nice person as special, but if they really knew me, they would know I was driven by a deep fear of failure. But, a rule in “The Gospel According to Me” said I couldn’t show my fear.
Or I would die.
That stupid rule just made me feel like a fraud.
After being uprooted from the farm at fourteen and replanted to a big city with my parents and four siblings, I felt like the real me had been hijacked. Snatched from a fairy-tale existence in a rural community, where I was somebody and expected to be attached until Jesus called me to my mansion in the sky, I found myself in a whirlwind of change. No longer a naïve kid, I had to grow up fast if I was going to survive.
Fear caused me to make some stupid mistakes like graduating high school a year early and then dropping out of college after getting married at seventeen.
So I could be seen as a serious adult.
Playing house with a nineteen-year-old boy seemed to be the best way to achieve the security I longed for. I thought I was finally back to the real me.
Until I learned that my husband was as lost as I was.
I traded him in for a man seven years my senior when I was twenty-two and thought we would live happily ever after, especially when our first child was born the following year.
I shall never forget the words of my doctor the morning after her birth when he and my husband awoke me in my hospital bed. “I’m sorry, but you’re baby has expired.” The tears in my husband’s eyes explained what I was thinking. What in the hell does expired mean?
Fear had its victory that day, and over the next couple of weeks, I struggled to obey another rule in “The Gospel According to Me”—one I learned from my father about how to handle life when bad things happen—which said, “Just suck it up and move on.”
Death lingers long after the event that sends its fiery arrows into the heart and hope of its victim, and for the next decade I clung to what I believed to be the only way to successfully do life:
If it is to be it is up to me.
Since I died when my daughter died, my mission was to save myself through a resurrection found in what I could achieve and control. I wasn’t clear how this mission was to be accomplished, but I trusted myself to get there someday. What I was clear about is that I would know when I arrived because it would be the day that I could exhale. And the real me could rest.
What I wasn’t clear about is that I needed God for the journey.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.—Psalm 46:1-2
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.—Matthew 5:4 (ESV)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”—Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
As always, it is my intent and hope that my words may encourage you wherever you are in your journey.
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If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.–Jesus (Mark 4:23)