Some days we wake up ready to take on the world.
We're ambitious, driven, focused, and nothing will stop us.
Then something stops us.
We press on, but another thing comes up.
We trip. We may even fall.
I mean, seriously, I almost fell off a treadmill the other day.
Life is full of circumstances that test us--our patience, our empathy, our resilience, our tenacity, our perseverance.
The tests may arise as tiny little nuisances like missing stop lights, flat tires, crashed computers, dropped calls, broken air conditioners on days of record-breaking heat, and on and on the list goes.
Then the other tests can rear their ugly heads, like injury, sickness, disappointments in our relationships, feelings of inadequacy, or even depression.
These things come and go, and we are left with the choice of how to respond.
In recent months, and to some degree, the entire last year, I have endured both spectrums of these tests. I'm not here to draw attention to my problems or plead for sympathy; but I here to tell you that you're not alone.
Some of you may know me, some may not. If you met me, you could form your own opinion about me. But I think many people get the impression from me that I "have things together."
With that impression, people often jump to the conclusion that I have things figured out; that I knew what I'm doing; that I'm proficient at navigating the labyrinth of life's obstacles.
And I'm wrong when I start to feel like I've got all the answers.
I'm not writing this blog to provide you with answers.
Sometimes bloggers, writers, and speakers (and other people who can't seem to shutup) feel obligated to provide answers when they present their writings or speeches. We need to give you some golden nuggets of wisdom to pack away in your backpack for later use--as though we have all the golden nuggets.
I could paint a rock gold and sell you golden nuggets, but what I really want to do is encourage you to find some of your own nuggets that fit your life.
During the struggles I've faced in the last year, I've stumbled into a lot of self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. I'm willing to admit that, in hopes that you might be able to admit that to yourself too.
We all doubt ourselves.
And there's a fine line between self-reflection and self-doubt. I'm a firm believer in self-reflection for the purpose of betterment and learning; but self-doubt is a different beast.
Self-doubt says, "Do I really have what it takes to do this?"
It takes you further and says, "Maybe I should quit."
It might also suggest that, "There must be something wrong with you."
The idea that you are fundamentally flawed and are, therefore, the cause of all your heartache and pain, is a foundational tenant of self-deprecation and self-doubt.
Do I question my abilities? Yes. But allowing this thought process to grind me into the ground and maim me is the furthest thing from beneficial.
In Christianity, we often refer to these downfalls as "spiritual attacks" or "satanic oppression." If you don't believe in that, I'm not trying to convince you one way or the other; but I think we can all agree that some points in our lives are more burdensome--emotionally and psychologically.
Regardless of where the "attack" or the onslaught originates, you have a choice how you will respond.
As a Christian, my response is to go to God in prayer and share my burdens with Him. I discuss my feelings of inadequacy and failure. I admit that I don't feel sufficient.
Contrary to some Christians ideas, God doesn't wag His finger at me and say, "See, Dan, I told you you were worthless and helpless. Now, close your eyes while I fix everything with the wave of my magic wand."
God's not really like that in my opinion. He's more of a teacher, a mentor, a sustainer, a friend, a confidant, and a healer.
He doesn't pull me out of the fire. He stands in it with me (see Daniel 3:20-27).
He doesn't devalue me because I fail. He lifts me up (see Psalm 27:5).
So getting back to that ridiculous picture at the top of this post, I may look like I'm charging forward in life with cool sunglasses and gelled hair; but really I'm just as weak and critical of myself as you are.
After talking with some folks this year, I realized I wasn't the only one who gets down.
I'm not the only one who wonders if I'm really good enough to succeed in my career.
I'm not the only one who wonders if I'm raising my children right.
I'm not the only one who thinks I'm a rather mediocre spouse.
I'm not the only one who wishes I could do some things better, or wants to delete aspects of my personality because they drive me crazy.
Nope. I'm not alone; and neither are you.