Have you ever felt like you’re ‘too much?’ I’ve spent my life being told I was too loud, too talkative, too this, and too that. I’ve never been accused of being real quiet. So there came a time when I took my big ole’ personality and lobbed off the parts that seemed to make me stand out. Then I shimmied into a square coffin and pulled it snuggly shut. I closed inward and shut the world out. But it didn’t work. Because the sour stench of inadequacy still wafted through the peepholes. I still felt like I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough, or talented enough. How can you feel like you’re ‘too much’ and yet ‘not enough’ all at the same time? Funny thing is, most of these accusations weren’t from people around me, they originated in my own head. It’s the voice of resistance, the accuser, the intimidator, the inner critic. God put me here for a very specific purpose. He put you here for a different, but equally important purpose. Our enemy wants us to doubt our calling and purpose and he does this by delivering fast and precise blows to our identity. He wants us to forget who God says we are, by constantly bombarding us with who and what we aren’t. Sadly, we don’t often recognize it for what it is. So we make agreements, we turn lies into truth by bending a knee to deception.
In only just the last week or so I’ve recognized a phrase the enemy has been using for years to intimidate me. It has been successful in completely paralyzing all creative muscles. I was perched up at the table, ready for success, practicing some guitar scales and the voice said, “You’ll never be any good, what’s the use?” Discouragement began to sink it’s talons into my chest. Later in the morning while I was getting dressed, shimmying into a pair of jeans it continued, “You’ll never have nice legs, why waste your time exercising?” The talons sunk deeper. I trudged on, feeling like a wet blanket was being draped over my head. I began doing my daily vocal exercises when it chimed in again, “You’ll never able to reach that note, you might as well just flip on an episode of Law & Order on Hulu.” I stopped what I was doing and sat there for a moment. Then a light went on, an alarm went off, and my face lit up! A split second of victory! I got a piece of bright yellow card stock paper out and wrote,
“NO! YOU are wasting YOUR time on me! YOU’LL NEVER keep me down. I will take the next steps today. The illusion of an ever evading finish line will paralyze me no longer. When you tell me I can’t, I WILL ! You don’t intimidate me, I OWN YOU!”
I ripped off the labels of fear, insecurity, and inferiority that have defined me for far too long, tore them into tiny little pieces, and threw them into the face of my accuser like a new year’s eve blizzard of confetti. So often we wear our labels like badges of honor, when in all reality they are colossal bricks weighting our backs and breaking our hearts. I won this battle.
But something I’ve learned is that we kind of like our labels, life is much more comfortable if everything is neatly labeled. It sure saves a lot of embarrassment when the men’s and women’s restrooms are correctly labeled and is quite convenient when the expiration date of milk is printed with precision. But the thing about labels is that they’re not meant for people, they’re meant for jam, and jars of canned peaches being stored for winter, and tax files waiting to be sorted until the second week of April. Not for you and not for me. Even though we win a battle it doesn’t mean the fight is over, because the chatterbox is incessant and relentless. It doesn’t take smoke breaks and never uses its three weeks paid vacation. So it’s not good enough to just play defense, hit our knees, throw our hands in the air, and hope the chatter will go away and leave us alone. We’ve got to launch a counter attack. In order to do that you’ve got to know who you are, and who’s you are.
Recently I learned something really cool. I learned that ‘Nicole’ means “Victory of the People”, or “The People’s Victory.” I know without a doubt that God has placed me on this earth to live in victory, free from fear, and to help anyone he puts in my path to do the same. To dream eternity-sized dreams, and remind others that they can and should believe for the miraculous. So when I learned what my name meant, I was flying higher than a cotton-candy crazed kiddy at Disneyland, what a confirmation! I’ve heard it said that the greatest areas of discouragement in our lives are often flaming red arrows pointing directly in the face of our calling and purpose. I love music; how a melody can swoop you up and leave you drifting on a breeze, the way words can pierce like a dagger and soothe like a mothers touch. And I have never felt a more intense, repulsive resistance than when I purpose to sit down and work on a song. “You’ll never, you’ll NEVER, YOU’LL NEVER” screech through my brain and claw at my insides. I know I’m not alone in this, we all experience fear, but this is where the crossroads are born. You can let fear paralyze you, I’ve spent many years painfully and nauseatingly trekking down this well-worn, easy-to-find dead end path, or you can use it to propel you. The thing that makes deception so effective is that it is so hard to detect. The trick is recognizing who is doing the talking. I just finished up a fantastic book, Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick, in which he helps us to identify and distinguish between these voices in terms of accusation versus affirmation. He talks about how the enemy will use accusation and condemnation, “You’ll never be good enough, why bother,” while God will use affirmation and invitation, “Keep at it girl, you’re gonna get there. We’re in this together!”
The enemy would try to get me to wear the label, “Nicole: afraid of people, rejection, failure, success. She’s too much and not enough.”
But my creator who knitted my innermost parts and knows my darkest secrets would have me be, “Nicole: Victory of the people! A woman who rises above shame, intimidation, fear, and rejection and raises others up as she goes! That one, she’s a riser.”
So ask yourself, who does God say you are? If you’re not sure, ask him!
And remember, you weren’t born to “fit in”. You can choose to either live a life of ease, or a life of impact. The choice is yours, but you’ll never know what you’re made of until you finally break free from the mold, the false labels, and the fear.
Click the image below to hear my original tune "Break The Mold", inspired by this blog!