I had a realization this morning about a habit I have, one that maybe you have too. And choosing to get rid of this habit is starting to change everything.
Maybe you’re doing it too? Maybe it’s holding you back? Maybe it’s time to stop?
I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’ll start with a story.
About six weeks ago, I’m scrolling through instagram and see an announcement from Lindsay Letters that she’s having a great sale on her abstract canvases.
Now listen — I’ve admired Linsday’s work from a far distance for years (years, I tell you). She did the hand lettering on the cover of my sister’s book and other books we know and love. She makes beautiful things I like and admire. But I’ve never, ever bought one of her canvases.
Well, they’re too pretty. And too cool.
And they are for other people.
Fast forward to several weeks ago — a friend invited me to go to a Zumba class with her. I visited Zumba classes periodically years ago but never went to one on a regular basis.
Well, because attending a class like that on a regular basis is for other people.
I visit, I don’t stay.
Maybe for you it’s something different, but I bet it’s something.
You see that (in)courage accepts submissions from guest writers, but you assume that’s for other people to apply for, not you.
You hear an announcement at your church that they are looking for people to lead a Bible study, and you’ve always secretly longed to do that, but you’ve never signed up because you aren’t the kind of person who teaches Bible studies.
It can be as small as refusing to order something different at your favorite restaurant simply because that’s not what you typically order; or it could be as big as living your life admiring the work meant for others but never taking the space to discover the work meant for you.
I know some of you may be reading this and completely confused that people like this exist in the world. You wonder why we don’t just sign up for the thing already and be done with it.
But those of you who can relate with what I’m saying? You can deeply relate with what I’m saying.
The habit we practice without realizing it is one of denying our own personhood.
And because of that bad habit, we carry an irrational sense of shame around with us, one that hovers like a fog. We can see it but can’t touch it; we experience it but can’t explain it.
We don’t even think to question it because it’s just the way things are. It serves as a filter for so many decisions.
And it’s keeping us from becoming most fully ourselves.
Y’all, I just came home from my third Zumba class. Three times! That’s like a regular!
And also? I bought the canvas. I had the money and I bought the canvas, and when it arrived, I hung it over our bed and clapped my hands and jumped up and down like a fool.
Or like someone who is free.
I’m not trying to advertise an artist or tell you to exercise.
I’m not saying that buying something for your house will give you a sense of self-worth.
What I am saying is I hope your lack of self-worth never keeps you from buying something for your house or signing up for an exercise class.
I am saying I hope you are able to bring the fear of your own personhood into the presence of Jesus and let Him heal those deep and painful wounds.
I want to tell you the phrase I heard this morning after I showered and walked into my bedroom and saw that canvas hanging over my bed, words I read Elizabeth Gilbert say and words so many of us need to say over and over again : I’m allowed to be here.
I’m allowed to take up space in the room.
I’m allowed to sign up for things.
I’m allowed to put my name in the hat.
I’m also allowed to stay home, to wait, to listen, and to be fully myself without having to prove anything.
I’m allowed to change my mind.
I’m allowed to trust God for big things and for small things.
I’m allowed to believe Jesus is with me just as kindly as He is with other people.
I’m allowed to use my voice and I’m allowed to stay quiet.
I’m allowed to be here.
And so are you.