What makes you want to puke?
This past year has been a time of “coming of age” in a way I haven’t done before. It’s been a near minute of free-falling through the air and fear into trust. It’s been landmark, but then, if someone were to ask me if it was more so than other years perhaps the answer would be, “not really.”
More than before I’ve let go of things that would have kicked my anxiety into overdrive.
It sounds so easy to say things like “be vulnerable” but it is the hardest thing in the world, because it risks rejection. We want love to feel safe, but I think love is the riskiest emotion of them all. We want to be loved for ourselves, but something inside starts to burn hot when we think of trusting people with the real deal.
Putting myself in places to try new things and help to lead in life pretty much smashed whole sections of self-confidence in 2018. It’s still hard to describe how stripped down I felt. Not in everything, but in the New Things. Like, of everyone around me, I was by far the least qualified and ready. Surely everyone could see that here was an impostor. Shame was the imp in the shadows ready to talk about how things could be better, if I was. Impostor syndrome.
On the other hand, I was finally in the trenches instead of just thinking about the best ways to do things. Theories are so comforting, but the real work comes when theories are falling in ash heaps around your feet, when most people are still safe on the sidelines and probably judging the way you’re doing things. Have you ever noticed that people who are actually engaged in life work rarely have time to nit-pick the way things get done? My Judgy McJudgerson micro-tendencies started to evaporate when the problems were mine to solve.
Real character building happens when flaws and failures show up.
True security isn’t in safety. It isn’t in conflict-free zones. It isn’t in appearances. It’s found in the confidence of falling.
“If you look like a fool, that’s ok.”
“If you get up in front of your church and fail miserably at worship, that’s ok. You’ll try again. Just jump out of the plane.”
“If you’re misunderstood, it’s ok.”
“If this doesn’t work for customers, chalk it up to the “don’t try again column” and try again.”
“Do the best you can, take responsibility for the fall, and get back up.”
“Validation is for parking.”
FALLING, FALLING, FALLING
Instead of saving me from the falls, God has instead been sticking to my back ready to pull the parachute. Many times we “fell” out of my comfort zone. A hundred times, voiceless with panic before singing in public, I would tell myself to jump, just jump. Good things do not come to people who quiver inside the plane, and stay there.
I realized that to find satisfaction and freedom in life you must do things while afraid.
Now, after pushing past inadequacy, fighting a herculean struggle of 18 months of panic to open my mouth to sing in public, and reaching beyond my height to co-decide ministry related questions, somehow failure doesn’t matter as much. I realized that while the way people react will change, not everyone has stage fright, but still everyone has to face down a monster of personal failure.
I read somewhere that one of the most famous performers of the 20th century, Paul McCartney used to fight nerves so badly before concerts that he contemplated quitting (another article said he even used to have to puke he was so scared).
Now I know. Fight through things that scare the puke out of you. Vulnerability. Singing in public. Telling people country music can be awesome (honesty). Really prioritizing health in relationships. Conflict. FEAR. Etc.
To that end I’m writing a book about the human experience of loneliness. I’m not qualified. I’m not ready. Thousands of people could do a better job than me, but that doesn’t really matter. For two years God has been nudging me to the edge of this plane and for whatever reason, he wants me to write this book.
Someone said, “Write stupid, write scared,” and that is giving me the courage to try. Even if I don’t have the necessary confidence to do this, the past year has proven that confidence is not necessary to beginnings. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing, it could be the worst book ever, but ima write it.
I want this to sink in for both of us:
Confidence is not necessary for beginning
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
What is the thing that makes you want to puke? Fight through it, push into the unknown. It’s really not comfortable, but it’s really worth it. And if you’re not ready to be quite that radical, then I suggest you start by following your curiosity. It’ll lead to adventuresome places.
Along the way, don’t forget to live. Stuff like singing was about 2% of my week, after all. It’s the small choices in the 98% that end up counting toward the 2% of bigger choices. In between that there’s all the usual stuff of deciding to wash dishes, chat with a friend, spend a quiet morning sipping coffee, work and vacation, pancakes, and laughing at stupid jokes.
In this next year, writing a book is going to be about 6% of my year, so come on over for pancakes some morning, yeah?
Love and fondness,
P.S. Since I always leave the important stuff as afterthoughts… :/
In the past few years I have committed to posting every Monday, with few exceptions, I can’t do everything well so posting will become sporadic over the next six months to a year. I’ll probably still post some, because it’s fun.
The topic of loneliness could’ve been a weekly blog series but I don’t want it to be. It’s an intimate topic and I want there to be a sort of commitment between me and whoever reads the book; to be a place to sink deeply and feel in good company, even in loneliness. L.E.