If only I were the person the quotes on my office wall/Pinterest board/Instagram feed made me out to be… You know the ones:
“Do it Scared”
“Chin up princess, or the crown slips”
What if we actually saw ourselves that way and did the things those quotes are supposed to inspire us to do? What would happen and how would our lives (and the lives of those around us) look different if we did it scared, or dreamed big, or looked in the mirror every morning and saw ourselves as sons and daughters of the King?
I have several of these quotes around my house, on my camera roll, and all over social media. I love a good inspirational quote. I read it, it lights a little fire in my belly and suddenly I am unstoppable. For the next 30 seconds anyway. And then the next “thing” happens in my life and the quote is forgotten. So I think, ‘let’s put it up where I’ll see it every day. that’s a good idea.’ So I write it on my whiteboard, or maybe even buy a fancied up wood carving at Hobby Lobby. With this amazing quote prominently displayed, I’ll surely be inspired! I look at my fancy new quote every day. So pretty. That teal really matches my curtains well. Nice. Days, maybe even weeks go by. I look at my quote, and the little fire in my belly has slowly turned to indigestion. My fancy little quote has suddenly become a nagging parent. A heavy sigh; an eye roll…yes, I know I’m still not the person you want me to be. My dreams are still small and I am still scared and not doing it…whatever IT is anyway. All of the sudden I’m giving my little plaque the cold shoulder. I defiantly avert my eyes, and consider taking it down altogether. As I hang my head, I commit to trying again on Monday. Everything good starts on Monday, right? I’ll get it together and have another go on Monday. Alright, good. Temporary refuge from this shame that feels like a boulder in my stomach. Whew. Monday comes, and I’ve forgotten my sign completely. I’ve moved on to the next shiny quote. Or maybe I’ve given up on quotes for now. They just make me feel bad in the long run, anyway.
You know why this happens? There are lots of academic explanations regarding extrinsic and intrinsic motivation that I won’t go into here. But in my experience and observation, quite simply, we don’t believe in ourselves. We hear inspirational things that momentarily get us fired up, but then settle back in to our originally held beliefs about ourselves. I’m not good enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough. Thin enough. You fill in the blank with your own stinkin’ thinkin’. God knows I’ve got plenty of my own. But at the end of the day, I really believe it boils down to what we believe about ourselves. If I believe I can dream big, I will. If I believe that big dreams are for people who are smarter/prettier/have more money, then they will be.
Friend, you decide your worth. Not the internet, not fashion magazines, not your bank account. What if you changed the things you said to yourself? What if you looked at that quote every day and made your best effort to live up to it, giving yourself grace when you don’t? If you want to dream big, pull out a piece of paper and write down a big dream. Not big based on what you can make happen right now, but big based on what you would like to see in your future. Then think about one thing you can do today to get there. Need help? I’ll go first.
As I sat with the Lord this morning, my devotional challenged me to pray really specific prayers. As I sat with that and thought about it, I realized that my prayers had, indeed, gotten a little general of late. So I thought about what I wanted to pray, and I prayed some very specific prayers for some people I love, and some specific needs in my life. As I closed my prayer, I thought, I need to revamp my dream board in light of my decision to pursue writing. I want to be a best-selling author. There was a split-second flash of maniacal laughter from my inner critic, which, because of lots of practice, I was able to squash pretty quickly. So I wrote in my journal, “I am a best-selling author. I write words that challenge and change lives. I write words that will leave a legacy of faith. I write words that glorify God and draw others to him.” That’s a big hairy dream. A best selling author? I have one blog post and am basically unknown. But you know what? I know that there is NOTHING God can’t do, and if he’s called me to do it, he’ll fulfill my dreams. So I wrote it down, so when it happens I can tell a story about it. So I asked myself what the one thing is I can do today to move toward that goal. With the free time I have, I sat down and am writing this post. Words on a page. Words that hopefully inspire. And tomorrow, I’ll ask the same question, and find another answer, and do another thing, because that’s how dreams come to fruition: One day at a time (You see what I did there? ? One day at a time… the oldest quote in the book. I crack myself up.).
So, get out that paper. Write it down. Do it.
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