My laptop had issues, so I made a a Genius Bar reservation at the Apple store. (Genius = the computer smartees who stand behind the counter and answer your questions about computer-y stuff. Also it just took me three tries to spell ‘genius.’ I felt the need to confess that).

On the day of my reservation, I show up with my laptop and a handful questions about some stuff and some things. I pull out my MacBook, open it up in front of of the Genius, and start to explain my woes.

He is kind and patient and doesn’t call me stupid. As I’m talking, I notice how filthy my keyboard is under the perfect computer light of the Apple store. I mention this and think for sure he will take my laptop to the back room and wash it with some super special Apple-grade, Steve Jobs approved washer cloth.

This is not what he does.

Instead, he pulls out an alcohol wipe from a plastic container behind the counter and swiftly wipes my keyboard clean. It looks new in three seconds.

No magic Apple grade washer cloth.

Just a simple, cheap, I-bought-this-at-Wal-Mart alcohol wipe.

I’ve had a filthy keyboard for weeks, months maybe. But I didn’t know what was safe to clean it with. So I left it dirty. Filthy dirty. Like a kid.

In that moment, I realized something I’ve known about myself but continue to learn with maddening regularity: I make things too hard.

For a long time, I did this with writing. I’m not a real writer. Real writers already know how to do stuff. Real writers get picked. Real writers don’t doubt themselves.

Those kinds of thoughts ruled the day. Until a message built up inside me for so long that my desire to get it out of me outweighed my fear of doing it wrong.

As it turns out, I actually am a real writer. And I don’t need a decree from the King of Words or magic dust from the Writer Fairy to tell me so.

You actually are something, too.

You have something to offer.

There is a trail of beauty just waiting to be left by you.

And you don’t need permission, from Steve Jobs or anyone else.

Q: Are you waiting for a Genius to tell you that you already have everything you need? Are you making it too hard? What are you waiting for?

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life.” 2 Peter 1:3

By Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky

  • Becky

    I love this! Thank you for sharing. Yes, I use to write on my blog regularly, for family and friends, but mostly just for me, to share the stories and reflections that God put on my heart and kept nudging me to share. But with the addition of baby #3 this past year (3rd boy in 3 and a half years), I have stepped away, telling myself that I since I don’t have time to pen posts at consistent intervals, or time to double, triple edit to achieve the literary and technical perfection I “should” present, that I therefore don’t have permission to write at all. Yes, I’m making it too hard. Hmmm…self imposed rules that are self defeating should be broken. Thank you.

    • Georgette

      I too make things so difficult. I analyze and reanalyze everything. I have been divorced since this past June and I am with another man. I am trying to be patient and trusting. I don’t want to be unsuccessful and I want to be loved and cherished by this man. I want a stable normal life again. I want my kids to be ok. I want to make everything on “normal”. I want to be ok with one day at a time and to forgive those things I have done that the Lord frowns on. I want to believe in me. I want to do it all. Perfectly….I also need to let that expectation go…Today I pray for a new look on all of that, which I throw on myself….

    • Georgette

      I too make things so difficult. I analyze and reanalyze everything. I have been divorced since this past June and I am with another man. I am trying to be patient and trusting. I don’t want to be unsuccessful and I want to be loved and cherished by this man. I want a stable normal life again. I want my kids to be ok. I want to make everything on “normal”. I want to be ok with one day at a time and to forgive those things I have done that the Lord frowns on. I want to believe in me. I want to do it all. Perfectly….I also need to let that expectation go…Today I pray for a new look on all of that, which I throw on myself….

  • Wanda

    So needed to read this today. I’m guilty of making things way too hard as well. Having left many things undone because I was stuck in the what ifs. Thanks for this dose of encouragement Emily.

    • Modupe

      Ditto Wanda!

  • Kimberly

    Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one. My husband is a “get it done” kind of guy, and being around him makes me feel ridiculous on a regular basis. Why do I make things so complicated?
    As for writing, if there is some super secret magic dust from the Writer Fairy, I sure would like to know about it:)

  • Lisa

    Thank you for sharing. It is true we do make things hard on ourselves.

  • Ginger Harrington

    I know that “Make it too hard,” trick. With much practice, I have become quite skillful with this. Thanks for the encouragement and food for thought.

  • Rose Chandler Johnson

    Yes, Emily, you are so right. I echo the same theme on my blog today. Sometimes we are as obstinate and histrionic as teenagers. God has already equipped us with all that we need to do whatever it is He’s called us to do. We make it too mysterious and difficult sometimes. I love your light and airy style. Yes, you are a real writer. Keep with it. We need your voice.

  • sonyamacdesigns

    Ah, yes and Amen!

  • Andrea

    Thank you! :)

  • Gabrielle

    I needed to hear this. I’m guilty way too often of making things more difficult than they need to be. And I think I’ll go clean my laptop keyboard now! :)

  • Susan

    Encouraging words for sure. For awhile my roadblock was the letter K on my keyboard glued in place with ranching dressing. My husband, my genius, got me up and running again with a qtip & rubbing alcohol. When I told him I wanted to become a writer, he looked up at me over his glasses and said you ARE a writer. Thank you for sharing your story and your doubts. Funny how words strung together in a line can mean so much. Susan

  • ro elliott

    thanks…perfect for me…my husband and I just had this talk yesterday…when God has you in school…He is the teacher…and even though I may not have the “right” credentials …alls God asks of me is for me to trust Him…He has all the credentials I need. And no matter how big or small our trail is…in this upside down kingdom…He sees all things through His eyes of love…all is good done for His love. blessings…and yeah…now I am brave…I am cleaning my nasty keyboard :)

  • Kim

    Oh yes! I suffer from this regularly since I am what you’d call a “frustrated perfectionist”. If U can’t do it perfectly then I just won’t do it all. I’m getting better in time and with God’s help but I needed this reminder. Thanks!

  • Georgi

    This is so true! I also think sometimes that I assume things are going to be hard, and so avoid it or put it off. Silly example – one of our kitchen cabinet doors broke, and I put off taking down the rest of the door, hauling it into Home Depot – for almost two years. Come to find out, I didn’t need to remove the door at all and bring it in. All I had to do was pick up the phone and call KraftMaid, read a number from a sticker under the sink, taking all of two minutes, and in three days I got the replacement hinges to fix the door – which also only took about 10 minutes.

    What AM I waiting for??? Thanks for this great post.

  • Debbie

    Two things:
    1) I’m running for an alcohol wipe.
    2) I’m heading back to work on what will be part of the “Welcome to my blog” post for the blog I’m struggeling to get going (but keep thinking “I can’t do this thing” even thought I’m pretty sure God just may be the one calling me to do it. (And I shake my head at all those “characters” in the the Good Word who doubted when God said….

    Thanks for this!

  • Leslie

    There you go again, speaking encouraging words to my soul. And off to get some alcohol wipes- who knew?!

  • Melanie @ M&M

    Yes. What they (up there) all said. I spent years believing that I just didn’t get the same playbook everyone else had. You know, “they” knew things I didn’t know. Some of that’s abuse related, but the older I get, the more I see it’s also just part of the human condition, and maybe Satan’s best tool against so many of us.

    Amen, and thank you!

  • Andrea

    Thank you for writing this! I too can fall into that trapped mode of thought. It is encouraging to read your words.

  • Karmen

    Thanks for this! I am doing Beth Moore’s updated edition of “Breaking Free” bible study and it speaks of removing obstacles in our path that keeps us from an abundant life in Christ. After reading your blog, I realize sometimes I am one of those obstacles. I get in my own way!

  • Chesley Owens

    I am very happy I read this. I am starting a non-profit organization, and I am just beginning to do the research, I mean really just getting started, like last night getting started, and the first thing I think as I begin to read the steps to getting started is “Oh this is just too hard”, but after reading this I am empowered again. I know I can do this and there are so many charities out there, I just have to pray about where God wants me to help, I am new to Mobile Alabama and really don’t know the needs, Please pray for me

  • Holly

    It is amazing how many of us feel this way…and I thought it was just me! Waiting for that “Go ahead and do it…” and in reality it has been here all along. I was just listening with my ears and not my heart!

    Thanks for your wonderful insight and encouragment!

  • Regina

    Boy did this slap me in the face! I have been making everything too hard instead of just trusting that God has a plan or He would have never placed me in the blogging world or in life in general! Thanks so much Emily for this awesome post!!!

  • Kristen Strong

    Oh my. This line right here: “There is a trail of beauty just waiting to be left by you.” ~Beyond lovely.

    This post makes me sing. Really.

    It also makes me re-evaluate my keyboard and want to grab some alcohol wipes.

    I love you.

  • Donna

    Pure genius!

  • Dori

    Are you sure you don’t also read minds?! :) So hard on ourselves aren’t we… or rather aren’t I. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and confessions.

  • Jan

    Emily, YOU are a genius! You’ve done for me what the Apple Genius did for you! THANK YOU!!! I love you!

  • Vivi

    Thank you, Emily! Once again you–a wonderful writer, an inspired creator–show us your vulnerability, your girl-next-door humanness, and in doing so, you give a glimmer of hope and encouragement for the rest of us to step out in faith.
    I am the Queen of Making All Things Too Hard, the Queen of Perfectionism! But I am recovering, slowly yet surely. I taught English for my entire professional career–including writing–but I find myself constantly questioning both my abilities and the worth of my project (which is still emerging, still being defined and re-defined. But isn’t that the essence of our very lives?). Whether it’s my house or my blog, I find myself at times tinkering with minutiae and, therefore, getting lost in those details versus simply launching forth and taking definitive action.
    Such a simple thing–a wet wipe–great image to keep in my mind!

  • Aimee

    Thank you so much for this, Emily! It brought tears to my eyes. These are the words I tell myself all the time about my own writing. I live in the “not-good-enough” way too much. Maybe it’s time to just take the first step, even if I can’t see the entire staircase. :)

  • Bonita

    Emily, I almost never have time to read blogs anymore, but this morning I decided to check my feed and God used you to give me the answer to the prayer I had just prayed so earnestly a few minutes ago. I’m quite certain that God is so tired of me saying, “Please, Lord! Show me what you want me to do!”

    His answer through you: “You’re making this too hard.”

    Thank you!

  • Diana

    This is so encouraging and I love your humor… Magic fairy dust. Heehee.

    And the trail of beauty line… Tears. Thank you.

  • Audra

    Thank you for sharing! This passage from 2 Peter seems to be a recurring theme in my present season. Reading “Hidden in Plain Sight” by Mark Buchanan right now where he takes this very passage and makes plain how we put to use what we’ve been given. Amen to keeping things simple!

  • grace at {gabbing with grace}

    I had to chuckle at this b/c the other day I was trying to write the word ‘genius’ on my blog and I tried “genious” “genous” & “geinous” before giving up & googling it! LOL #true story. =)

  • Rebekah Lyon

    I am SO out the door to buy alcohol wipes…and ponder what I’ve been holding back that needs to be shared :) T.y. for this post, E.

  • RoseAnn

    Pure “Genius”–really! I join the growing throng which rejoices in renewed insight and wisdom which you have graciously shared with each if us. Truly, Emily, YOU are a gifted writer who has answered God’s call! Thank You!!

  • Pam

    Oh my, Emily, this post sooooo speaks to me. I make things too hard. all. the. time. And just so you know, I’m still simmering on your words from one of your posts from last week. Pick yourself. What am I waiting for?

  • Sarah Farish

    I make all things harder that they should be. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Amy J.

    Just what I needed to hear…thank you!

  • Andrea

    Seriously, I do this every single day. I make parenting harder than it should be, taking care of my home harder than it should be, and most definitely writing harder than it should be because I have yet to consider myself a writer. Thank you for making me think this one through.

    • Modupe

      Oh my sister, yes me too – about thr parenting and home keeping!

  • Donna

    Thank you for encouraging us. It was very sweet and what this heart needed.

  • Debra Weiss

    Sarah, this was a great post. I struggle with the same thing. I keep waiting for someone else’s ‘approval’ before I do the things I really want to do. And it’s sad, too because I miss out on some great opportunities.

  • Vanessa

    Love this…so timely :)

  • Mandy

    Thank you for this–that is SO me, waiting for somebody to come along who is supposed to know more than I do, somebody who will tell me that this “writing thing” that makes my heart race and skip beats is something that I really do know how to do. It seems like I forget that being a writer comes from actually setting down and putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and letting the words spill out, not from some “expert” or genius telling me that I’m a writer.

    Here’s hoping I can remember that…

  • Beth Werner Lee

    I was going to skip writing today. Give up on my “writing on Mondays” because I had to sub for two hours and take my dad to the doctor (2 more hours) and now it’s off to errands and pick up my daughter, but you know what? After that, home and cuddled with her, I will write (while she crochets or listens to a good book or something).
    I’m a real person. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. I bake, I write, I crochet, I love on people when all is well. Somebody asked me yesterday what do I do and I just launched into all these things I do not for money. I am so fortunate to be supported by a dear husband.
    So. Thanks again for writing this. It made my day, and that’s huge for me.

  • Laura

    Thank you so much for this! I have been struggling with so much self-doubt this year–my first year teaching elementary art. Self-doubt as a teacher, as an artist–as an artist teacher. Thank you for the encouragement!

  • Stephanie Hanes

    Yes, yes, YES! I do the same, especially with writing. I am my own worst critic. But God knows that and patiently reminds me over and over that my writing and my mothering are what He has called me to do and this is exactly where He wants me. I may not feel qualified, but He has already given me all I need to finish this race well, with Him leading the way.

  • Beth Williams

    I am sooo very hard on myself. If things don’t go as I want or think they should–heaven forbid I make a mistake–then I call myself “stupid, dumb, not really smart”.

    Thank you for your encouraging words and open honesty!

  • Modupe

    Thank you so much for this – it applies to so much in my life right now. And thanks for the verse – the Lord is really talking to me through it as I meditate on it. Bless you!

  • Nancy Smith

    Uhh, I have an apple notebook as well. I solved the dirty keyboard problem by using one of those transparent skins over the keys. when it looks dingy I take it off and wipe it down with the kitchen disinfectant wipes. ;)
    As for the content- I think that’s one of my coping mechanisms as well. just don’t want to admit it! see? it’s hard to step up, out, down to reality when we’ve been sitting with the imagined reality in our heads. it feels safer there. But I find when I do step up to whatever He wants me to do, He does the equipping.

  • Tracey

    Bravo, Emily! Oh I just love this so much.

  • Missy

    I giggled at the genius spelling comment at the beginning. So. Been. There! And, oh, to just for once, NOT make things so hard. A little swipe with a Walmart wipe would do me some good, too!

  • LaRonda

    Simply thank you. I was on the verge of making my reply more difficult than it needed to be! Your “incouragement” is just what I needed for this season.

  • patty

    my gosh, emily. that was perfect.
    if only we could teach that lesson to girls. (well, all children-just that girls happen to be on my mind).


  • Mary Carver

    Thank you for this. So well said, my friend!

  • Trina Cress

    “Until a message built up inside me for so long that my desire to get it out of me outweighed my fear of doing it wrong.” My fear is that it will get lost in the midst of everyone else who feels the same. I’m realizing I create, because he put it in me to create. Not because the world will suffer without my words–but because I will suffer if I do not share them. Thank you so much for your encouragement and inspiration in that journey!

  • Jan

    I’ve been trying to get to read this for a few days, and so glad I finally got to it! I make my whole life hard. Thanks for your encouraging words :)

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