Last week, I wrote that putting together everything I know and have learned about myself is like putting together a puzzle. Part of that puzzle is understanding how to take what I have read and understand where it fits in my life.
One of the books I love and have read twice is Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.
The problem is that making the connection between understanding and relating to the book and applying it in my life has been difficult.
In the introduction to the book she writes:
If we want to know why we’re all so afraid to let our true selves be seen and known, we have to understand the power of shame and fear. If we can’t stand up to the never good enough and who do you think you are? we can’t move forward.
I don’t really think of myself as a fearful person and I’m not even sure if shame is something I’d describe myself as feeling, so I’m not entirely sure how I might have experienced the shame and fear that she mentions, but for many reasons, the “never good enough” has been something I have struggled with throughout my life. I don’t really know why; I don’t know if there was one event that triggered it that I don’t remember, or if it is due to how I have interpreted different events that have happened to me over the years, such as the breakup of a best friendship early in high school, sitting the bench playing softball, a sport I loved, or hearing a message from the church that my gifts and interests were not all that welcome because of my gender. It could be any and all of those, plus others I haven’t thought of yet–or just don’t want to write publicly.
As an Enneagram 9, the message that my voice isn’t important is one I have somehow internalized over the years. While it hasn’t been constant, it’s been regular enough that when I have started to realize that my voice does matter, it’s always wrapped up in doubt. It is difficult to break free from that, but over the last year it has been happening; I am a person who needs to hear something a LOT before I let it sink in and truly believe it.
I posted this on Instagram one day, because this experience has been instrumental in helping me realize this:
I have been able to explore this part of myself that has been buried for so long, and other conversations and experiences I’ve had in the last couple of months have also helped me to confirm that I need to stop ignoring myself for the sake of other people.
Something I read recently that ended up being instrumental in helping me move forward is from Isaiah 43. It’s nothing new; I wasn’t unfamiliar with it; but I read it again on a day when I needed to hear it (despite the context of it being about Israel, not me–you all know I’m big on context).
“I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”
I love you.
The message of God’s love is one I’ve known and believed for my whole life, but just like in any relationship, you don’t want to be told only once that you’re loved; it’s a message that should be repeated frequently.
When you know you are loved and valued for who you are, it gives you that courage to stand up to the “not enough” and “who do you think you are?”
Let’s keep moving forward.