“You’re so good at what you do!”
“You look beautiful!”
” I wish I could be like you!”
Maybe it’s just a girl thing. Have you ever been complimented but didn’t really believe what the person was saying? It’s not like you think they’re intentionally lying or trying to be condescending, nor would we call them a liar to their face, (even though that’s how our refusal to accept what they’re saying is essentially saying). How often do we actually respond with a simple and honest, “Thank you” rather than responding with excuses, doubts, mumblings of insecurity, or contradictions?
Maybe you don’t know what I’m talking about, so I’ll tell you what’s been happening to me. People have told me how good I am at ASL (American Sign Language) interpreting since I started learning in college. And I didn’t really believe any of them, save for a few of my Deaf friends or mentors, for several reasons: they don’t know sign language, I felt like they were just being nice, maybe they were trying to adhere to socially acceptable conversational constructs, I felt like I had done really bad and they were just trying to cheer me up… The list goes on.
What is it going to take for me to believe that I am actually good at something?
This past week has been full of people commending my interpreting skills. Strangers commending my work. Eventually, it started to actually sink in. “Maybe I am actually pretty good at this…” I know this is one of the things God has called and gifted me to do in this life; I’ve had to work through my self-doubt to accept that. But why is it that I find myself more willing to believe a stranger than someone I know and love and trust?
But it’s not just about interpreting. When someone tells me that I look nice, that my hair is pretty, that they appreciate the advice or encouragement I gave them, even when they say, “I miss you,” my over-analysis personality convinces me that the person is just saying such things to be nice or socially appropriate, that they don’t really mean what they say.
Maybe it’s our feel-good culture feeding into my disbelief of people’s insincerity. Maybe it’s too many hurt feelings from past friendships where people let me down. Maybe it’s the enemy whispering in my ear that I’m not worth such praise.
I’m blessed to have had friends in college who recognized my insecurity for what it was, and they would stubbornly tell me positive things and not allow any response other than a sincere, “Thank you” of acceptance. But like many lessons in this life, it’s not a one-and-done lesson learned, apparently. Here I am, doubting not my calling, but doubting that I’m actually good at something God has gifted me to do.
I know only my situation. I know what happened to cause me to begin doubting my skills as an ASL interpreter, or even as a hearing person using ASL at all. Someone else came along who made me feel inadequate, and it allowed the enemy to plant that seed of doubt in my heart. When I didn’t fight back, that seed has sprouted and spread like a vine, choking out my confidence in what I know God has called and gifted me to do.
I don’t want to encourage you to be arrogant about your skills. Please note: what I can do is only because God made it so. It is He who gives and takes away. But whatever it is that God has designed you for (designed: not an accident, not luck, not chance. He had intentions and purposes when He created you), then you must not doubt it nor let anyone else cause you to wonder if it’s true.
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.”
Psalm 139:13-14 (but seriously, read this whole psalm)
“The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?”
“When doubts filled my mind,
Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”