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Monday, June 20

How Encouragement Overcomes Insecurity

"I believe in you."

Those words have power. 

Why? Because if we were all honest, we'd admit that we feel insecure about ourselves sometimes. We wish our hair was straighter or curlier, that our nose was smaller, or our bosoms bigger. We wish we were more extroverted, or that we stopped to think before speaking. We wish that we had more drive, or we wish we could slow down and relax once in awhile. We wish we were more talented, or that we just had someone else's talents.

But knowing someone believes we are enough just as we are, or that we can accomplish our goal, is profoundly reassuring.

i believe in you  .explore
Photo by SarahWynne on Flikr


Recently, I was trying to remember why I'm not pursuing a degree in teaching. English and art were my twin passions, so in high school I planned to pass on my joy of writing and creating to others. Then I got scared, and I decided that I couldn't speak in front of people and I wouldn't be able to handle class discipline. So, I decided I'd major in journalism and minor in art. That way, I could still write, and art would be a side thing. But I didn't major in journalism. I didn't think I had the go-getter-type-A personality a journalist needed. A teacher encouraged me to re-consider teaching. So I did, thinking maybe I could handle a private school, where I was more likely to be able to teach both English and art. So I entered college with a major in ... English literature. I couldn't commit. I was afraid. 

After two years, I'm majoring in technical communication now. It's basically writing and design for businesses, magazines, web, advertising, legal stuff, editing and publishing jobs, manuals, etc. I like this major because there are a lot of options. I dislike this major because...well, there are a lot of options! I just finished my junior year of college; it's time to think about internships and resumes and finding jobs, and I still don't know what I want to do. I'm afraid to commit to what I want to do, because I'm afraid I don't have what it takes

I'm insecure. And its frustrating, because I wonder what might have been. If I got an English teaching degree, could I have taught English summer classes in China, or had English conversation lessons with the immigrants here in Arizona? If I had pursued journalism, could I have captured the plight of Haitians in the wreckage of the earthquake, or brought attention to the fate of trafficked women and children? Sometimes, I feel like a failure for being afraid of failure. 

In the midst of my self-deprecating pondering, I've been getting emails from Brian while he's at work. He forwarded an article about blogging to me, along with a note: "You should post some of your old poems and stuff on your blog. You may need to see about copyright stuff though 'cause I think a lot of your stuff could be published if the right person reads it." He's brought up a lot of things I haven't thought about much, like buying an URL, branding, and getting published. 

Then Monday after he got home from work, he brought one of his Inc. magazines over to my desk where I was working on schoolwork. 

"Look at the name of the editor of this magazine, and tell me whether it's a guy or a girl."

I was a little confused, thinking it was a trick question. "Jane Berenston...I'm going to go with the obvious answer here, and say woman." 

"Yep. You know, Inc. is a very popular business magazine. Tons of people read it." He took magazine back and stood, just looking down at me.

"Ok," I said, confused. "So...what's your point?"

"Never sell yourself short."

Just the knowledge that Brian believes in me, even when I don't, is enough to make me want to be the best writer or blogger or entrepreneur or magazine editor ever. It's powerful. I'll never forget it.

It's not just Brian. It's my English teachers who took the time to give me good feedback on my work, it's the music teacher who told me, "Emily, for you, the sky's the limit!" It's the art teacher who encouraged me to bring projects I made at home to school to show her, even if it was a book of pictures made out of paper towels! It's my in-laws, who encouraged me to make my own wedding invitations and programs, and put up with my meltdowns and hours of troubleshooting the printer. It's an email or facebook message from my dad. It's the thrill of raising awareness for Haiti by designing posters and handouts for a fundraiser. 

It's the still, small voice that says, "I made you, just the way you are. And I delight in you."

Psalm 149:4 "For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation."
Psalm 147:11 "the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." 
Just stop and think about that for a minute. Is your fear or insecurity holding you back? 

I don't know yet what I will do after college. I do know that God has given me skills and passions, and I'm not going to let fear hold me back from discovering His plan for me.

Who do you know believes in you? What impact does that have on you? Pass it on today and let someone else know that you believe in them.

P.S. This month we are sharing our stories about the way encouragement has made a difference in our lives. Would you share your story with us?

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