There’s a particular word which seems to show up all too often in my life these days.
It’s one I’ve tried to shake off. And times, I can silence it to mere echoes.
Well, for a little while anyway.
The problem? It keeps coming back. Like a headache you think you conquered, only to have it return at the most inopportune moments. Sometimes as a nagging ache. Other times as a bold and painful hindrance to the life you want to live. This word continues to rear its ugly, little twelve-letter head. Whether implied in a message I hear, or spoken plain and clear, it’s there.
I’ve heard it in my own mind; in my own words. It’s been expressed in the words of a trusted friend in her own struggles; and from a dear colleague. It has reverberated off the walls of my life and the lives of those I love over and over again for some time now.
For me, it started as a small whisper. In fact, the word was relatively inaudible. But then, the more I stepped out into the ‘great unknown’ of what I would face as I follow the breadcrumbs to my calling, the louder, clearer and more obnoxious it became.
If I had one of those big red stamps, the kind they use to reject an application, I’d use it right here. Because the emotional equivalent to that big red stamp is exactly how this word makes me feel.
Now, I can rationalize for days why this word would continue to creep into my consciousness. Especially in this season of life, where stepping out (and sometimes stepping in it) are big parts of this calling I’m trying to answer.
After all, putting yourself out there is a special kind of terrifying. And if you’re anything like me, when you begin to speak out, the heap of sin and shame you’ve accumulated throughout your life all comes flooding back like a rock-slide on a muddy hill, threatening to take you out as you attempt to stand defiantly in its path.
All your attempts to be known and encourage others to be known are threatened by the voice that says ‘your portfolio of sin disqualifies you’; ‘what’s happened to you disqualifies you’.
And for a little while you believe it.
After all, the truth you may find shocking (or not) is that I don’t think there’s a ‘sin’ I haven’t committed. Twice. Maybe more.
I’ve probably hurt others at least as many times as I’ve been hurt myself. Which is no surprise. Wounded people wound people.
Oh, but healing people? They help heal people.
I really hope that’s what I’ve been doing for the better part of the last couple decades. That has certainly been the goal.
But this particular season of life is different. The way in which I hope to help is a bit more ‘public’ these days. And apparently, if I’m to do it well, to be authentic, there’s no camouflage provided.
Still, ‘disqualified’ makes me think about all the ways in which I might experience rejection. Which is possible. Probable, even.
It’s like the rejection and wounding I may face will confirm the rejection and wounding that lead me to feel disqualified in the first place. (Round and round we go.)
Does this sound familiar at all? Is it just me?
It’s as if the present rejection has too many similarities to the wounding we experienced earlier in life. If we’re not careful, every rejection will confirm that we’re disqualified. It will deepen the negativity of the story we tell ourselves. We will see ourselves the way our rejection tells us to.
We become convinced others see us this way.
Convinced we have nothing to offer. That we're not enough.
Eventually, we convince ourselves God sees us this way too.
But it’s all a lie.
It’s a smoke and mirrors trick from the enemy of our souls because he knows the very things he attempts to use to make us believe we’re disqualified are the very things that make us qualified for the exact space we’re occupying at this very moment. For the exact thing we feel drawn to. Called to. Made for.
He knows the very thing that fuels our feelings of pain and rejection is the very thing we will use to help others find freedom and hope.
He knows how powerful our wounds are in the hands of The Healer. And he knows they have the power to help others find healing and freedom.
He knows that healing will lead to more healing. And the ripple effect will push back the darkness.
Make no mistake, he will use any means necessary to keep us from realizing what he already knows.
Our voices have power.
So, I guess in the end, we have two choices.
We can listen to the taunts of the enemy. We can allow ourselves to be silenced; decide the risk isn’t worth the reward. We can choose to keep our stories, experiences and hope to ourselves; only sharing in circles where we’re safe from rejection or condemnation. Where 'camo' is provided. We can play the hand we’ve been dealt in a game we didn’t ask to play, close to the chest. We can allow voices from the cheap seats to hold us in bondage and ultimately agree with the notion that we are, in fact-- disqualified.
We can say “Hell, No. Fear, you don’t own me. Rejection, you might leave a mark or win a brief battle but you will not win the war. I choose to use my story, my experience, my talents and my voice to reach out to the hurting. To be a healing person who helps people heal. I will lay all my cards on the table. Because this isn’t a game. It’s life. I will speak.
I will stand. And I will fight.”
There’s something else that’s been rolling around in my mind for the last couple of days. Actually, ever since I started writing this post. It's this:
Sometimes, the line between ‘safe’ and ‘regret’ is just as thin as the one between ‘reckless’ and ‘regret’.
I’ve spent a lot of this life recognizing the regret that recklessness has caused me. I don’t want to waste any more time on regrets because I chose to stay too safe.
The choice is there for each of us. I have decided. How about you?