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.
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:
[ photo : denver post ]
What did he have to say after the win?
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]
Go forth, and be ye
(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!)