Sometimes, it is easy for me to sit down and start writing. An idea pops into my head, and I am excited to see where it takes me. Other times, like today, I have a very difficult time making myself start typing coherent words into this block of text. The idea has been floating around in my head for a while, and I have been avoiding it. I hesitate to write this because I believe it will open doors that I’m not sure I’m ready to walk through yet.
Over the last few years, I have been on quite a journey. So much of what was a part of my life several years ago is gone, and what I’ve always believed about myself has been challenged. My goal has been to discover who I really am. Not who everyone told me I was, or who people said I needed to be, but the person God created me to be – the uniqueness, the purpose, the person God has known since the beginning of time as ‘me’. I’ve discovered a lot about myself, but I’m finding it hard to let go of what I’ve believed about myself for so much of my life. As long as I still cling to those beliefs, there’s not room for new beliefs. The new things I’m discovering are starting to bump up against old beliefs – old voices. They can’t both be true. They can’t both exist at the same time. So, the questions start…
What do I believe? What do I want to believe? What do I need to do to challenge those old beliefs and let go of what is no longer true in my life?
There have been several questions running through my head recently. I’ve been avoiding the answers because answers scare me right now. They usually lead to more questions – harder questions. And, ultimately, I’m afraid that no matter what changes in my life, the answers to certain questions will always be the same.
The first question is huge for me. I remember the first time I ever heard it, and I couldn’t understand why it would even come up. It was like asking if the sky is purple. Over the years, the answer has become much less black and white, but I still struggle with the question. Do I believe that I am loved? Do I believe that there is anyone who truly cares about me – not for what I can do for them, but simply for who I am? There is nothing in my life that I want more than to believe that. I have seen progress in that area, but my thoughts, actions, choices, and decisions still reflect a disbelief. Holding onto what I’ve always believed about myself does not allow me to truly see anything worth caring about. Of course, every question just leads to more questions. How can anyone love me for who I am when I have no idea who I am? If someone sees something in me that they feel is worth caring about…well, I’m not even sure how that’s possible. All I ever heard was what was wrong with me. How do I believe something that completely contradicts what was taught and reinforced over most of my life? And I end up at the same question every time – how do I challenge the old beliefs and voices to figure out what is true so I can let go of what is not.
Part of that answer goes back to questions. I need to ask questions to challenge what I’ve always believed. How can I really know what is true if I don’t ask? But I become paralyzed by fear. When a voice is triggered in my head, the logical side of my brain says that I can ask a question to find out if what happened is truly reinforcing what I’ve always believed or if what I’ve always believed is coloring how I interpret what happened. But the fear takes over, and I don’t want to know the answer because I’m so afraid that it will reinforce what I’ve always been told – I’m not good enough.
When I was in junior high, I got teased a lot. There was not a single person – parent, teacher, friend – who protected me. They each just reinforced that what was being said about me was true. When I went back to college to work on my teaching certificate, a teacher I had in junior high was a professor in the education department. My advisor had an office right next to hers, and every time I walked by, I would hear a voice saying, ‘Go in and talk to her.’ I wanted to ask her if she remembered me as the person I saw myself as or if she remembered someone different. Did she think that I was the horrible person that I was taught to believe I was? I never asked. I didn’t want to know if the answer reinforced what I believed about myself, and it was already so reinforced that it wasn’t worth taking that risk. In my mind, the chance of her saying anything other than what I already believed about myself was so small that I couldn’t walk through that door.
Though I still have trouble walking through that door, I do believe that there is a higher chance that someone would say something to discredit what I’ve always believed about myself. The problem is that it’s not a high enough chance yet for me to get past the fear. I still believe a lot of negative stuff about myself because that’s all I heard for so long. The scales haven’t quite balanced out yet, and though I know that I need to challenge what I believe about myself, I’m not sure I’m ready to walk through that door yet. I’m not sure I can get past the fear. I’m not sure I can ask the questions…