halfway flashback : january

I wrote this post in January and I think it might be one of my favorites from my whole time as a blogger so far. The phrase has stuck with me, too. It’s still written on one of my living room chalkboards!

(Someone call Hallmark. That title sounds like it was born to be a Made For TV movie. That should stop me from continuing this post…but it won’t. Here we go!)

For the life of me, I can’t remember where I found/heard this quote, and every search I’ve tried in an effort to find it again has come up empty. But recently, in an article or interview or something related to having good posture, the interviewee said this,

“You should try to walk like an exclamation point, not a question mark.”

She was referring to not hunching over, as per the curved top of a question mark, but what she said is bound to stick with me for a long time. For me, she was speaking to an issue much deeper than standing up straight. She drove an arrow straight through my Achilles heel.

I do walk like a question mark. Because I think like a question mark.

Sometimes it’s inconsequential. As in,

“Did I just trip? Over air? Again?”

Yes. Yes you did.

But most of the time they’re more pointed questions. As in,

“Am I doing this right?”

“Do they like me?”

“Are my dreams unrealistic?”

“Am I good enough?”

Confidence is definitely not my strong point. There is nothing I’m more confident about than my lack of confidence. I don’t just question certain aspects of my existence, I generally feel as though I am altogether questionable. As a person of steadfast faith in God, with a laundry-list of scriptures that refute having a questionable worth, and a pile of tangible evidence to the contrary…one would assume this should be a non-issue.

And yet (and it’s a big AND YET…) it is. I’ve been plagued by crippling self-doubt for as long as I can remember. I’d give you examples ranging from elementary school to the present day but they all end in me being…wait for it…crippled by self-doubt, so they’re fairly anticlimactic. Suffice it to say: I’ve gone more than a few rounds with insecurity.

And I’ve prayed, OH LORD, I’ve prayed, that it would just be taken away and given a makeover. That in a half-hour TLC special my lack of confidence would be shampooed, blown dry, and transformed into radiant self esteem. But it doesn’t seem to work that way. At the the of the day I’m still completely unsure of myself, no matter how much I try to will or wish it away.

This year, instead of pleading to win the battle, I’ve just given God the daily wars. I’ve started praying that somehow, God would use all of these unfounded doubts for his glory. I still hope that at the end of the journey I’ll emerge with a Christ-centered confidence that cannot be shaken. In the meantime, I’ll be happy to simply be faithful in this era of life. The one in which I trip over my words and flat surfaces on a daily basis.

But I’m also going to make a concerted effort to be an exclamation point, not a question mark. Not just to stand a little taller (which is a bonus regardless for someone who hovers just over 5 feet), but to really LIVE like an exclamation point (!). To turn, “Will this work?” into, “This will work!” To stop thinking, “Can I do this?” and start thinking, “I can do this!”

(Please note that this line of thinking also lends itself to other endeavors. To wit: “Should I have that brownie?” becomes, “I should have that brownie!” I’m already loving this new psyche.)

But seriously, I’m really going to focus on changing my punctuation. Because even if it’s hard to wholeheartedly believe it at first, I’d rather live with enthusiasm than with doubt. Doubt only sees the fear of what might be impossible. Enthusiasm sees the joy of what can be possible. Isn’t that the preferable option?

I don’t think there is a better current example of this theory than Tim Tebow. By the media’s standards, he has no reason to be confident. Even by football standards, his confidence had to waver a bit after homeboy put up a completion percentage and total QBR in the twenties during the Broncos regular season finale. He had to have had some doubts about his abilities.

Didn’t he?

No one gave him even the slightest chance against the Steelers in last night’s wildcard game. It wouldn’t just have been easy, it would have been normal for him to think, “We backed into the playoffs. We’re playing the defending AFC Champions. We’ve been clobbered by three weeks of crucial injuries and crushing defeats. Maybe I can’t do this. What if it’s really impossible?”

He definitely could have gone that route. Been the question mark. And no one would have blamed him for it. But did he?

Well, HECK no! If this isn’t the personification of an exclamation point, then I’m not sure what is:

title

[ photo : denver post ]

What did he have to say after the win?

We just kept believing.

Apparently so. And look at what has happened so far as a result! And who’s to say how much further they can go!

And how different would everything be if there was even the smallest margin left for question marks instead of exclamation points?

We’ve each been given a unique purpose. World famous professional athlete or unknown local blogger  – the status makes no difference. Our job isn’t to doubt or question our purpose, but to get excited about it! I feel like I’ve been given something visual and something verbal. But I’ll never make a difference with those abilities if I continue to ask, “God, can you really use me?” instead of proclaiming, boldly, “God, you can really use me!”

If I ever decide to tattoo a verse to my forehead (and it’d be great if you all wouldn’t let me do that), this would be a good candidate:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

[II Timothy 1:7]

Amen.

Go forth, and be ye excited? excited!

(Update: being an exclamation point pays off. Thanks to the wonderful people at Tebow’s Eye Black, an insightful blog about all things Tim Tebow, you can now read this post on their blog as well. Thanks, Tebow’s Eye Black!)

beka stays real : march chalkboards

Untitled

[ bedroom : RELENTLESS : belief in God (1), gratitude in each moment (2), pursuit of dreams (3). (be transformed by the renewing of your mind – Romans 12:2) ]

Untitled

[ living room 1 : “People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now.” – Matthew 6 ]
Untitled

[ living room 2 : be an exclamation point, not a question mark. ]

and here’s the march magazine line too:

beka stays faithful : the aftermath of exclamations

There are quite a few sentiments I could start with today after being fortunate enough to be featured on Tebow’s Eye Black yesterday. Among them:

1. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It kind of takes the whole being the exclamation point thing to a literal level.

2. Posting what I write is harder than posting what I photograph.

This whole exercise was not unlike walking through a haunted house: half terrifying, half exhilarating. I mean, I had no trouble posting what I wrote to the blog because I know everyone who reads the blog and their numbers are not vast. But sending the post out as a submission, then posting it to Twitter and Facebook? Nauseating. The funny thing is that I regularly post to the blog/Facebook/Twitter when I take new pictures, and without a second thought. But I’ve never done it with just a written post before. I found that it’s kind of like standing alone on a big stage with just a microphone as opposed to standing alone on a big stage covered in huge colorful pictures. (I really didn’t have to go too far to muster up that analogy, but there you go.) It’s easier to stand there behind a slew of distractions than it is to stand there and talk about what makes you tick.

3. Posting what I write is infinitely more gratifying than posting what I photograph.

Well…shoot. If I were to confront this fact in earnest we might end up with War and Peace on our hands due to the depth and length of angst it’s bound to cause. Suffice it to say that this was an eye-opening experience and we’ll talk about it more later over lots and lots (and lots) of coffee.

So instead, let’s backtrack a little. Because yesterday I got to cross off one of my Big Projects for 2012 (which I didn’t post in detail, but it was #5: contribute to another blog/website/magazine!) and I’m still a little amazed. So how did this happen?

Here’s what I think may have helped:

1. I started having conversations with God again.

This is not to be confused with, “I started praying again.” God and I were not on the outs prior to yesterday’s post. It’s all good in the hood. But recently I noticed that my prayer life had lost a little of it’s luster, mostly because I was straight up boring. Seriously. I was going through the same old, same old with no emotion or intention. After being convicted about the actual power in the power of prayer, I changed my tune. I’ve recommitted to speaking in earnest – not just having one-sided petition lists that read more like grocery lists – whenever I pray. I’m being bold, praying in faith over specific areas of my life. And shockingly but not shockingly…I’m already starting to see things change. One of the things I’ve been praying is that God would create opportunities, help me to see them, and give me the courage to follow through. He definitely delivered on that one yesterday.

2. I stopped trying to fix the problem.

As I mentioned in the post, I’ve tried to pray away my lack of confidence for the better part of 25 years. But this year I decided that instead of praying it away, I’m going to ask God to use my insecurity for his glory. Without realizing it, I was having a II Corinthians 12 moment:

At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

Hello, Paul. Mind if I grab an oar? Because we’re definitely in the same boat.

3. I leapt.

I had the idea for yesterday’s post on Sunday night. I was about to go to bed. But then I decided to stay up a little longer to hash out some of the ideas running through my head. On Monday morning at 7am I reopened the post, thinking I’d wrap it up nicely in 5 minutes or less since I had planned to do about 18 other things before my closing shift at the juice bar later that day. None of those things consisted of me sitting on the couch still in pajamas at 1pm frantically writing and rewriting and publishing and submitting a crazy post about punctuation…but that’s what happened.

Clearly, I support careful planning and preparation…as per the barrage of 2012 posts last week. I believe that dedicated hard work lays the foundation for future success. But I also believe that most of the big opportunities that come along can not be written into a planner, nor do they present themselves during brainstorming sessions. It’s probably how God keeps us humble. More often than not it seems like opportunity arrives in the midst of slogging through daily disciplines and invites us to take a leap of faith into something unexpected. Most of the time I keep my feet firmly planted in familiar territory. But yesterday, I leapt! Being open to following God’s lead – a lead that left me with plans unhinged and workout undone and teeth unbrushed in exchange for something better – was a game-changer. I’m hoping it’s a lesson I won’t soon forget.

So, as my mom would say, that’s that. I think yesterday was an exclamation point kind of day. Here’s to making today one too!

beka stays faithful : being an exclamation point

(Someone call Hallmark. That title sounds like it was born to be a Made For TV movie. That should stop me from continuing this post…but it won’t. Here we go!)

For the life of me, I can’t remember where I found/heard this quote, and every search I’ve tried in an effort to find it again has come up empty. But recently, in an article or interview or something related to having good posture, the interviewee said this,

“You should try to walk like an exclamation point, not a question mark.”

She was referring to not hunching over, as per the curved top of a question mark, but what she said is bound to stick with me for a long time. For me, she was speaking to an issue much deeper than standing up straight. She drove an arrow straight through my Achilles heel.

I do walk like a question mark. Because I think like a question mark.

Sometimes it’s inconsequential. As in,

“Did I just trip? Over air? Again?”

Yes. Yes you did.

But most of the time they’re more pointed questions. As in,

“Am I doing this right?”

“Do they like me?”

“Are my dreams unrealistic?”

“Am I good enough?”

Confidence is definitely not my strong point. There is nothing I’m more confident about than my lack of confidence. I don’t just question certain aspects of my existence, I generally feel as though I am altogether questionable. As a person of steadfast faith in God, with a laundry-list of scriptures that refute having a questionable worth, and a pile of tangible evidence to the contrary…one would assume this should be a non-issue.

And yet (and it’s a big AND YET…) it is. I’ve been plagued by crippling self-doubt for as long as I can remember. I’d give you examples ranging from elementary school to the present day but they all end in me being…wait for it…crippled by self-doubt, so they’re fairly anticlimactic. Suffice it to say: I’ve gone more than a few rounds with insecurity.

And I’ve prayed, OH LORD, I’ve prayed, that it would just be taken away and given a makeover. That in a half-hour TLC special my lack of confidence would be shampooed, blown dry, and transformed into radiant self esteem. But it doesn’t seem to work that way. At the the of the day I’m still completely unsure of myself, no matter how much I try to will or wish it away.

This year, instead of pleading to win the battle, I’ve just given God the daily wars. I’ve started praying that somehow, God would use all of these unfounded doubts for his glory. I still hope that at the end of the journey I’ll emerge with a Christ-centered confidence that cannot be shaken. In the meantime, I’ll be happy to simply be faithful in this era of life. The one in which I trip over my words and flat surfaces on a daily basis.

But I’m also going to make a concerted effort to be an exclamation point, not a question mark. Not just to stand a little taller (which is a bonus regardless for someone who hovers just over 5 feet), but to really LIVE like an exclamation point (!). To turn, “Will this work?” into, “This will work!” To stop thinking, “Can I do this?” and start thinking, “I can do this!”

(Please note that this line of thinking also lends itself to other endeavors. To wit: “Should I have that brownie?” becomes, “I should have that brownie!” I’m already loving this new psyche.)

But seriously, I’m really going to focus on changing my punctuation. Because even if it’s hard to wholeheartedly believe it at first, I’d rather live with enthusiasm than with doubt. Doubt only sees the fear of what might be impossible. Enthusiasm sees the joy of what can be possible. Isn’t that the preferable option?

I don’t think there is a better current example of this theory than Tim Tebow. By the media’s standards, he has no reason to be confident. Even by football standards, his confidence had to waver a bit after homeboy put up a completion percentage and total QBR in the twenties during the Broncos regular season finale. He had to have had some doubts about his abilities.

Didn’t he?

No one gave him even the slightest chance against the Steelers in last night’s wildcard game. It wouldn’t just have been easy, it would have been normal for him to think, “We backed into the playoffs. We’re playing the defending AFC Champions. We’ve been clobbered by three weeks of crucial injuries and crushing defeats. Maybe I can’t do this. What if it’s really impossible?”

He definitely could have gone that route. Been the question mark. And no one would have blamed him for it. But did he?

Well, HECK no! If this isn’t the personification of an exclamation point, then I’m not sure what is:

title

[ photo : denver post ]

What did he have to say after the win?

We just kept believing.

Apparently so. And look at what has happened so far as a result! And who’s to say how much further they can go!

And how different would everything be if there was even the smallest margin left for question marks instead of exclamation points?

We’ve each been given a unique purpose. World famous professional athlete or unknown local blogger  – the status makes no difference. Our job isn’t to doubt or question our purpose, but to get excited about it! I feel like I’ve been given something visual and something verbal. But I’ll never make a difference with those abilities if I continue to ask, “God, can you really use me?” instead of proclaiming, boldly, “God, you can really use me!”

If I ever decide to tattoo a verse to my forehead (and it’d be great if you all wouldn’t let me do that), this would be a good candidate:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

[II Timothy 1:7]

Amen.

Go forth, and be ye excited? excited!

(Update: being an exclamation point pays off. Thanks to the wonderful people at Tebow’s Eye Black, an insightful blog about all things Tim Tebow, you can now read this post on their blog as well. Thanks, Tebow’s Eye Black!)