On an evening such as this, it’s hard to tell if I exist.
If I pack the car and leave this town, who’ll notice that I’m not around?
(Pinch Me lyrics)
One of my favorite songs has a vulnerable – and yet somehow catchy – line that seems to come out of nowhere, just moments after describing simple pleasures like running through the sprinkler and taking long naps.
But isn’t that how insecurity and fears are? Coming at us when we least expect it, slamming into our hearts and shadowing our minds before we even know what hit us?
Last week I auditioned for a solo at church. For nine months, I’ve known that I wanted to sing a certain song at the Christmas program, and Thursday was my day to make that happen.
Things did not go as planned.
I was ridiculously nervous. I don’t know why I get like that. I’d rather sing to a huge group of people than to one person. Perhaps that’s because those large groups tend to come with spotlights and stages that blind my eyes and hide that crowd.
But even though I finally scrounged up the nerve to sing, my choir director was not bowled over by my talent . . . by me.
There’s something a bit magical about singing in an empty auditorium and hearing your voice echo off the concrete walls. As my last note faded, I opened my eyes and waited.
Honestly? I think some arrogant part of me was expecting my choir director to say, “Wow! Why haven’t you sung a solo before?”
That question, of course, would allow me to feign humility at the same time I described every solo I’ve had since I was 13 and singing with the youth choir.
I said I was arrogant.
As you might have guessed, that wasn’t his exact reaction. It was more along the lines of, “Okay, yeah, I’d like to hear more. Why don’t you practice and try it again in a few weeks?”
Um, what? Where was the “wow”?
I didn’t hear a “wow” that night. And it wasn’t until I could feel the tears pushing on the backs of my eyes, threatening to humiliate me right there in church, that I realized how badly I needed to hear a “wow.”
I needed someone to tell me I was good at something.
Can you tell me what was ever really special about me all this time?
(How Far We’ve Come, Matchbox 20)
See, I’m at a weird place in life right now. For some reason – God’s reason, I am confident – I’m not being allowed to use my gifts. Or, at least, not in the ways that I want to or the ways I had planned.
And that is hard, let me just tell you. See, I’ve taken the spiritual gifts tests, I know my Myers-Briggs personality type, I’ve had certain skills confirmed by others. I know what I’m good at.
But nobody seems to care these days. And even though I know that this place in my life is part of God’s design and that the refining will eventually create something beautiful, I forget.
I forget that I am loved by the Creator himself, and I start thinking that maybe I’m not so special after all. Maybe I can’t write. Maybe I don’t have leadership skills. Maybe I’m not smart. Maybe I’m boring. Maybe I’m not cut out for this. Maybe I should just quit.
Maybe I can’t sing.
Once the doubts have taken over, then I start asking the big questions: Do I even matter? Am I special? Would anyone notice if I just disappeared?
Thankfully, the conversation doesn’t stop there.
God answers, every time. And He says: I see you. I notice every little thing about you. I made you. You are wonderful. I love you.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
In other words, God looks at me, and He says, “Wow.”
Have you ever felt invisible? Have you ever wished you could use your gifts more – or differently? How do you overcome the fear of not mattering?