Focus on who you are, not who you are not

I feel like God keeps putting people in my path who are hustling right now to bring their dreams to life. People who are incredibly gifted in unique ways, who want to do big things for the kingdom…..big things like podcasts, support groups, discipling relationships, blogs, and so much more. It’s been incredible to get to sit back and watch friends who I admire so much really allow God to use them in powerful ways.

During a recent conversation, I made a commitment to a co-worker that in any opportunities I have to share, whether through writing, speaking, and teaching, I will always be ME. I’m not doing this so I can impart some great wisdom on you, because I can promise you would be greatly disappointed. I’m doing this to share from my own experiences, my own shortcomings, and help you realize that we all feel inadequate, unqualified, and like an imposter at times. That whole “fake it til you make it” thing….that’s basically my life right now.

In order for me to do that, I think it’s important that I stop feeling ashamed or embarrassed about the “areas for opportunity” in my life, if you will. So let’s talk about one of those. Top secret info: I am a very emotional person. Just kidding about the top secret part. Because if you’ve spent any time around me, chances are you have seen me cry - at least once. Probably more than just once. For so long I’ve truly hated that part of me.

When I was a little girl I can remember times in school when teachers would ask me why I was crying and I innocently had to respond that I had no idea. Truly. My mind might wander or think about something or see someone struggling, and the tears just started flowing before I could even do anything about it.

In middle school, I remember trying so hard to stop those tears that I for some awful reason began muffling them with laughter. Awkward laughter. At times when there had no business being laughter. My 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Rappaport, was reprimanding a good portion of the class for their behavior (not me) and it was uncomfortable. The instant she tried to transition back to the lesson, she called on me for the next question, and I started giggling uncontrollably. I didn’t even feel it coming. I was nervous for my classmates who were in trouble, frustrated for a few of them who had done no wrong but were now in trouble, and I was (until that moment), relieved that I wasn’t one of them. I was trying not to I laughed instead. I’m sure you can imagine how my teacher reacted to my apparent mockery of her. It was the most trouble I’d ever been in at school (until I got punched in the nose by a boy later that year, but we’ll talk about that story another time!)

Over the years I have tried to come up with creative solutions for what to do in these situations. Oh have I tried. If I feel some sort of emotional response coming, I’ll cough, drink water quickly, divert attention to anyone else, and I have so many more tricks....most don’t work at all.

I’ve been ashamed at times that I can’t hold it together, so of course I start apologizing for it. And once the “I’m sorry’s” begin, they don’t stop. For a long time I viewed it as a sign of immaturity. I thought if I just grew up, both in years and in experience, those parts of me would fade away.

But here’s the thing. When I really think about it, what I just described to you is a part of who I am at my very core. While I fully believe that I need specific ways to control my reactions when I’m feeling frustrated, angry, without a voice, sad, stressed, etc., I also need those emotions to be expressed in wise, helpful ways that add to a situation, not distract from it. I also fully believe that sometimes it’s during those times of expressing my emotions that I feel closest to God.

You see, there are happy tears too! There aren’t many Sundays that I don’t cry during worship. There aren’t many times when friends tell me news they are excited about that I don’t cry. Heck, I teared up at my daughter’s school conference this past week when I got to hear about the kind of student she is—- any time my heart swells for any reason, the tears are on their way.

What if my slew of emotions are actually a gift from God? What if I allowed shame to keep those emotions hidden, but then I stopped having those happy tear moments too?

I feel like this season of my life is teaching me that if I really want to pursue the dream I believe God has placed in my heart, it’s going to require a new and improved version of Melinda. A version that keeps my eyes focused on Him and on what I believe He’s carrying me toward. A version that isn’t afraid or embarrassed by the tears, because we all know they are still going to come. A version that embraces the tears and the overwhelming emotions I feel at times, without apologizing for them.

What is this season going to require of you? I’d love to know!



He Fights For Me