Tuesday, October 9, 2012


2: to underestimate intentionally : play down, soft-pedal

My family was invited to a wedding that took place last weekend.  The invitation came in the throes of selling our house, packing up and moving.  In the midst of all of that, I lost the invitation.  When the bride checked in with me on our RSVP, I told her we wouldn't be able to make it.  I briefly explained that ballet five days/week and baseball three days/week are getting to us and filling our Saturdays.  While true, the more honest explanation was that I was afraid to go.

The bride was a teacher at my daughters' former school and I was afraid of answering questions from other guests about our decision to homeschool.  Not necessarily from the teachers who would have been there, but from other families who might be there.  As I made the decision for our family not to attend, I felt OK about it.  Things were busy.  I didn't want to risk being uncomfortable.  There would surely be tons of other students there.  We wouldn't be missed.

But as the wedding approached, I began to feel differently.  Sad that we were going to miss her special day.  Regretful that I let fear keep us home.  Frustrated with myself that I am so quick to minimize my own worth.  Because this was certainly a case of me underestimating myself intentionally.  I wondered why she would want us there.  "There's nothing special about our family," I thought to myself.  I played down the impact our absence would have.  I chose to not see that this bride had invited our family for a reason.  I chose to not remember this bride walking over to my van just a few weeks after my daughters started at her school and telling me how great my daughter B was doing in her class.

Last month I met with a few women to talk about the Enneagram.  As a part of our discussion, I mentioned how much the Enneagram has helped me see my sin more clearly.  Actions that would not look like sin to an outsider, I know to be sin because I know my own heart.  Only I know the promptings from the Holy Spirit that I hear and choose to listen to or ignore.  Only I know that I declined that invitation not because of a full schedule, but because of my fear.

I'm not exactly saying it was a sin to miss that wedding.  I will tell you my heart has both swelled and ached as I've seen pictures from the wedding posted online.  The aching tells me that I was wrong and weak to be so afraid of what others might say.  The aching tells me that I really wanted to be there and I once again did not choose to follow my own heart.  The ache reminds me that there is something inside me that wanted to be there to see and celebrate this union.  And I blew it.

I am pretty good at knowing what other people want from me - at discerning what they need and even how to provide it.  This can make me an easy friend to have - and it can be exhausting.  It also means that I am so busy listening to what other people need from me that I don't hear my own soul's cries for help.  I ignore a nudge to reach out to a friend.  I pretend to not see that chair I could sit in to read and rest for a few minutes.  I push down my urge to be and insist on doing.

A few weeks ago I read a series of devotions that recommended a simple, yet profound prayer: "Who are you, God?  Who am I?"  I think if I could pray this prayer consistently, it would change my life.  If I truly knew who God is and who I am, I would no longer minimize my value, my desires, my very self.  I would instead be compelled to shed my insecurities and hesitancies and be the radiant person God thinks I am.

This is big, hard work for me.  Shedding layers of who we think we are is not easy.  But it is necessary.  People do not only want to be around me because I listen well.  They sometimes actually want to hear what I have to say.  Some lessons I learn quickly, others more slowly.  Maybe you don't struggle with minimizing yourself.  Maybe you wrestle with allowing others to see the real you.  Or with admitting you are wrong and imperfect.  Whatever the case, I hope you'll find a path to let the real you shine through the layers of accumulated selfhood.  Because you are radiant underneath it all.

1 comment:

EJN said...

Ahhh! This post wanted to make me scream at myself,"That's so me!". Thanks, I needed it. Putting words to fear helps me, and you so often have been a blessing to me in your faith walk - I have been encouraged in mine.
Thank you.