Monday, July 25, 2011

MONDAY Update: Courage

I'm not really sure if my main problem is that I'm too smart, or if I'm not smart enough.  Most of the time, I'm going to lean towards the latter.  I mean, I'm no idiot, but I lack a lot of common sense that could really come in handy from time to time.  I often figure I should at least be smart enough to know when to shut up, to know when and how to use tact, to know how to look like I'm interested, when I, in fact, am not. 

The thing I really can't figure out is why a lot of people have said that I'm hard to get to know.  I guess it could be that I'm shy around strangers, but the thing with me is, what you see is usually what you get.  I've learned how to employ small bits of professionalism--even some tact here and there, but I really just don't know how to be fake.  I've tried it a few times, because fake people usually do better in this world for whatever reason, but I can't do it.  And you know, I really think it would be a tragedy if I were able to accomplish fakeness.  I don't like fakeness.  I don't know why anyone does.

But then there are times when it would be nice if I could pretend to be something I'm not.  It would be nice to appear confident when I'm really not that confident at all.  It would be nice to appear to have it all together, when the truth is, I almost never do.  It would be nice if I could fool myself into believing that other people's opinions don't matter to me.  But I'm not smart enough to be able to get past what other people think.

And I had a moment the other day when I really let something that someone said get to me.  I got discouraged.  And it made me start thinking about courage.  Maybe it's this way for most people, or maybe I'm more prone to it since I am emotionally transparent, but it really doesn't take much at all for me to get discouraged.  One perceived discouraging comment can send me into the depths of despair.  On the other hand, one encouraging comment can send me soaring.  Maybe it's because I'm a writer (we're weird like that), but that's just how I am. 

But thinking along those lines only made me more discouraged.  I like root words.  At the root of "discourage" and "encourage" is "courage."  To discourage is to take courage away.  To encourage is to give courage to.  And I couldn't help but feel really unstable if my courage could be given and taken away so easily.

I flip flop back and forth so often in my emotions.  One day I feel strong.  The next day I feel weak.  Some days I feel ready to take on the publishing world, and other days I just want to give up and stop trying.  Lately I've just felt so defeated.  I read all the verses in Scripture about being strong and courageous--and I just wonder what's wrong with me that I can't muster up strength and courage.

So I wrestled with that a little over the weekend.  Finally, I just took my concerns straight to God.  "I'm not able.  I'm not courageous.  I'm not strong.  I'm weak."

I'm not sure how Kosher it would be to state the overall impression I got from the Holy Spirit's response, but my closest interpretation of His response to the confession of my weakness was:


Those times when I feel strong--they're illusions.  I'm not strong.  I am weak.  All the time.  Even when I feel my strongest and most confident, I'm still completely reliant on God.  Apart from Him, I can do nothing.  The flip side to that, however, is that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  I just get it backwards and think I have to be strong before I can actually be strong.  That's just not true.  Never was.  I just like the idea of having control, when the basic reality is, I don't have any.

So my trouble is not that I'm too weak or too cowardly.

My trouble is, I'm too smart.

I really like the movie "Rudy" and I like the character of Rudy.  If you don't know about Rudy because you have lived under a rock your whole life, Rudy was a boy who wanted nothing more than to play football for Notre Dame.  But his grades and athletic skill were sub par.  Still, he persevered and was able to be on the team and play in one game.

I admired Rudy's tenacity and perseverance.  But what I really appreciated about Rudy is that he was simply too dumb to know that he couldn't possibly succeed in attaining his dreams.  He was too dumb to know any better, so he tried anyway.  He tried hard, knocking himself out and facing all sorts of persecution, not even realizing that it was impossible for him to succeed.  And you know what?  He actually succeeded.

The odds against anyone finding a literary agent and becoming a published author are ridiculously slim.  I think that's why a lot of people are turning to self-publishing--not that there's anything wrong with it.  For some people, it's a great option.  But I've had a dream of being a traditionally published author.  I've had it for years.  Self-publishing, to me, seems like a short cut--an easy way into a business that simply shouldn't be easy to get into.  And I'm smart enough to realize that getting traditionally published is a hard thing to accomplish.  Maybe it's even impossible. 

So I keep talking myself out of trying.  If I weren't too smart, maybe I would try because I didn't know any better...but, I am too smart.

And, on the other hand, I'm also too dumb. 

If I don't have control, and since I know I don't have control, it would make logical sense to turn to one who does have control.  God has proven Himself to be faithful.  God has proven Himself to be loving.  God has proven Himself to be good.  God has proven Himself to be able.  God has proven Himself to be strong.  I don't, at least on the surface, doubt these things.  So if I believe all these things about God are true, it should be easy--ridiculously easy--to trust Him.

Trusting Him should give me all the courage I need to try just about anything.  Whether I succeed or fail, I still have what is most important in Him.  And that should give me more courage to keep trying, because ultimately I have nothing to lose.

But I am not smart enough to trust Him.  At least not completely.  I fear the opinions of others.  I fear failure.  I fear so much because I'm not smart enough to trust.

So I guess I'm back to where I started.  I'm not sure if I'm too smart or too dumb.  I figure I'll still be working this one out for a while.

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