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Can't



"And now let the weak say, I am strong. Let the poor say, I am rich - Because of what the Lord has done for us!" - Henry Smith, 1978


I can't.


Those words are too real for me right now. I promised myself a few years ago that I would be truthful, no matter the cost. I didn't want my public life to be different from my private life. It cost me my marriage, it costs me family, friends, business. Truth isn't something you can live without it affecting your life. Here's the "but" ugly truth - I haven't been as truthful as I thought. Because I was being truthful for the sake of approval when I made msitakes, and trying to live a life acceptable to the eyes of others.


I burnt out this past year. I burnt out because I always brought my best for others. Tell me who worked harder than me, because they're rare and usually burn out too. Its not the result I want from my work. Remember all those gram posts when I went through divorce? I was working out twice a day, then I was working sunup to dark, running 6miles, working out, sleeping 1am-6am. That's just a two year snippet. I thought it looked good with smiles and inspirational quotes. And it honestly kept me alive, for a time.


The root of all this: I am an imposter. Subtly, but vivaciously, I am solely known as the man I am not. So much that I don't know who I am. I have learned to survive through becoming what others needed, wanted, me to be. I can see the thread through my entire life. Unfortunately, when I brought my "best" one hundred percent of the time, I eventually failed. I don't always meet the expectations others hold for me. When I didn't meet those expectations, I would shame myself. Shame would drive me down a rabbit hole, unless, unless I used it to excel. Excelling doesn't necessarily mean I'm thriving.


Excelling looks like thriving to the outside world, it fulfills my need to be seen and known for something, but doesn't mean I'm living from my core person. Deeper than your values and principles, your identity dwells. It will be the interpreter and instigator of everything you see and do. If that core person is hidden beneath a fear of rejection, you can excel beneath anyone's expectation. The false you, built for others, will thrive until your core breaks. Then you have to rebuild or make an exit strategy. I know, because I have those trigger thoughts too. You're not the only one with a gun to your head.


When physically and emotionally unable to work, the imposter finds himself sitting in shame. I never thought I'd tell anyone its necessary to sit with your shame. But, it is absolutely necessary. Sit down to ask her why she's in your mind. If you can find out why you feel shame, you will find the imposter. Shame is only present where failing expectation dwells. The imposter is rooted in wanting to be accepted. In a society where performance is the capital worth of capitalism, the imposter can thrive until you know you belong.


The past four-and-a-half months have resulted in just the beginning of pulling back that imposter face. I didn't realize I was being one until I was unable to perform and meet expectations. Telling people, "I'm not working, I'm barely able to get out of bed, I do think about killing myself." reveals how much shame you have for not performing. It makes you want to break things, cry, die, etc. You feel vulnerable when you can't do.


After going blind, being inspired by scripture his pastor encouraged him with, Henry Smith wrote in 1978, "And now let the weak say, I am strong. Let the poor say, I am rich - Because of what the Lord has done for us!" I don't know how he wrote that. Smith somehow saw more clearly than my pharisaical identity. He saw that when I can't, God can finally do. Scripture tells us what being weak and saying we are strong looks like. To become who I want to be individually takes walking in relationship. Relationship is hard, it requires weakness and vulnerability to receive strength from someone else.


Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


Maybe, Jesus is pulling a one ox cart. When you link up you don't feel the burden, because he is doing all the work. I've run around mountains to avoid being this close to the body of Christ, with more valid reasons to do so than most people. When we link up to Jesus, the living Gospel himself, and his bride, we are weak. It takes a willingness to say, "I can't." I actually can't be that expectation. I actually can't be the fit, business owning, church going, emotionally perfect, flawlessly successful person. And, and, I can't even become the person I want to be for myself without help. Otherwise, the imposter invades the space where Jesus the healer needs to sit.


The imposter comes to kill, steal, and destroy. The imposter disconnects us from who we are by presenting himself as our protector from failure. My imposter says, "run faster, push harder, edit your actions better!" I can't any more. I am criticized for every step outside of others expectations. Judged for who I hang out with, what I eat or drink, I am forgotten by everyone - including myself! But, not in Christ. In Christ, I belong. My specific core identity was created with intentionality. How messy it looks getting to full bloom, that's called belonging unconditionally to my loving father. The journey to being my fullness will take a lot of , "I can't, therefore I can." because when I am weak, then he is my strength - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


- Zephaniah



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