Recently, I’ve had a number of people tell me how strong they think I am. Mostly it’s from people who have been reading this blog and other places where I’ve been writing.
This is one of those, “If they only knew me,” moments. You know the ones. The ones where you feel like an imposter and that the good things people believe about you would be negated, even reversed, if they knew the “bad” things about you.
In my case, I don’t feel strong, at all. I’m sad and angry a lot of the time. I also feel a lot of self-doubt and self-judgment for not getting off of my butt and doing more with myself and with my life…especially lately, as I’ve been learning the stories of women younger than me, dealing with so much more difficult and painful things in their lives.
The thing is, I can’t compare myself to them, or anyone else. The life I’ve experienced has impacted me and changed me the way it has and theirs has done to them what it’s done to them. We all started out with different strengths, weaknesses, dispositions, circumstances, and personalities. We learned and acquired different beliefs and developed different coping mechanisms. Some of the things we’ve been through have meant we’ve had to fight harder to get through them or overcome them.
Here’s where I have to separate myself from this need to compare myself to anyone else. Here’s where I have to choose to believe that I’m not an imposter. I have come through the things I’ve come through and I still have things to get through. Things that are challenging and painful for me. Things which knock the breath out of me and drain me of whatever energy and strength I carry in my being, my spirit, and my mind. Things which make me feel trapped and shackled to all the yuck and the muck.
For me, I have realized that, if it wasn’t for God’s faithfulness to me and my faith in God, there’s no way I would have made it through to the point that I am. God doesn’t do the things which I can do for myself and isn’t in the business of erasing the consequences of the past. It’s more like God is the father of this injured Olympic runner, 25 years ago:
I’ve been running this race and I keep getting injured. However, every time I decide to get up and keep going to finish it, no matter how painful it is or how hard it is to keep hobbling, God comes alongside me and gives me the support and strength I need to take that next step.
A lot of the time, I get too focused on all the things: the lack of finances, the physical health issues, the mental health issues, the parenting issues, and so on. These are the chains I carry that weigh me down and, sometimes, keep me from wanting to get back up when I’ve fallen.