“Get your own life.” I recently heard this and was puzzled. It was that still small voice speaking to me again. Don’t I have my own life? Have I ever had my own life? I pondered this for a couple of days, thinking back over my life.
As a young mother, I did not think much about having my own life. Who has time to even think when you have several toddlers to care for, a household to maintain, and perhaps even a job to hold down? You do what you have to do, and then you do it again.
Then, if you are affected by the impostor phenomenon (see definition below) as I was, you mistakenly believe that you should be able to do all of that and more without much trouble. You have what’s called the “superwoman complex.” Perfectionism drives you to set goals that are humanly unattainable as a young mother, and when you fail to meet them, you feel like a failure. The so-called impostor says: I don’t see my worth in the world. I was unwanted. I am unloved/unlovable. I am lacking. Life should be easy. I can’t. I shouldn’t. Everyone is better than me. It’s too late. It’s too hard. I’m a failure. I must be perfect to be accepted.
As an adult, I automatically valued everyone else’s opinions, plans, ideas, time-tables, and preferences to mine—waiting, always waiting to see what someone else wanted to do, when they wanted to eat, where they wanted to go . . . you name it.
And, if you are a Christian, the list of shoulds mounts up, increasing the expectations that others seem to automatically attach to your new life: I should be stronger; I should be able to move on; I should trust the Lord enough that this should not knock me over; I should be able to sleep, to exercise, to write; I should be able to keep working even though I don’t feel like it. And the list goes on. It’s maddening, and yet, it is the truth.
I know what the Bible says: Deny yourself (Luke 9:23). But how do I reconcile it with the encouragement to “get your own life” that I heard so clearly in my spirit? I had to search for a list of “self” words I made a couple of years ago while sitting outside at Starbucks one spring morning:
Are these some of the aspects of “self” that we are to deny? My answer is yes.
Several days later, while I finished reading 2 Corinthians, I came to this: “Finally, believers, rejoice! Be made complete [be what you should be]” (13:11). Become who I created you to be . . . with your own open heaven, your own clear way through, with an empowering of the gifts of the Spirit to accomplish His purpose(s) (2 Cor. 1:21).
After all, He formed me in the womb and wrote my name in His book; all the days ordained for me were known by Him before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:15-16). He has ordered my steps (Proverbs 16:9). So I can begin to think right according to God and . . .
Get my own life.
Become who I was created to be.
So much to consider.
Note: The Impostor Phenomenon is defined as the inability of high-achieving people to internalize their success or to believe that they are capable or responsible for their own accomplishments. Impostors feel like frauds even though they are not.