As we sat there over the phone, silence on either end, I waited. It felt a little awkward; but I knew that she was on the edge of having her first breakthrough, and I didn’t want to miss it because I said too much or too little. After a few minutes, she squeaked out the hidden sadness that been holding her back. Her words held shame and freedom all the same breath, “my whole life I’ve felt like I have been waiting for something good to happen to me." There it was. I could tell that the words wore her down; and so we sat in a few more seconds of silence as she let that revelation wash over her. And, as she said the words, my own heart started to beat faster. I could relate all too easy to those words, those feelings. It wasn’t that long ago, that I too, was waiting, hoping, and praying that if I did something just right I might earn God’s divine approval, and my life would magically fall into place.
I’m not sure where I came up with this weird theology that I can actually earn God’s favour, but I spent years trying to accomplish it. To no avail I would lean into leadership, bend over backwards to help where I thought I would be noticed. All for the sake of trying to be the best. For me, it was my need to get noticed. By both God and those in leadership over me. Thinking about it now makes my stomach turn. Sadly, it never donned on me to ask God what He wanted me to do. There could have been multiple reasons for that, but I was mostly afraid of what He might say, and I would be left with broken dreams. My biggest fear of course being being that I would live this terribly unhappy and unfulfilled life. So I kept Him at arms length, and myself locked in the shame of my disappointment.
At this point, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with adopting a ‘YES I CAN’ mindset. Well, everything really. My journey has lead me to this place, but you may have found yourself on a different path. As a kid you may have heard the word ‘NO’ substantially more than you ever heard ‘YES’, so you developed a mindset that locked you into believing that you would never be able to access your dreams. It could have been that your parents battled with their own fears, and they handed them down to you. Unknowingly you took them on, and have walked the same path.
It could have been later in life that you were so eager to please that you walked front footed into the most amazing opportunity. But, there you were met with humiliation, forcing you to believe that you would never be enough. No matter what you tried, you would never gain access to the dreams that you held deep inside.
My story is not unlike yours, except that I faced humiliation at a young age. It was the first time my spirit was crushed, and it was during show and tell in my kindergarten class. My teacher, probably trying her best to instruct me, said words that shot to my bones. Over a period of several days I had been sharing the same news with my class that I would be moving to another province at the end of the school year. It was likely that my little mind needed to process the upcoming events, but my teacher told me that I was not allowed to share anymore, and that I had to come up with another show and tell. Now, I know this seems silly, but to a five year old who is wide eyed and excited, those words shut me down. It was then that I stopped sharing altogether.
When we stop believing that we are capable of doing what has been put in our hands to do, our dreams are quietly pulled from our grasp. We subtly make an agreement that we have to earn our way back. But, that just isn’t true. It may start with re-awakening to the possibilities around you, to lean into what is possible. But at the end of the day, as adults we have to severe the thoughts of the past - the humiliation, defeat and discouragement; so that we can start saying ‘yes’ to what we have been called to do.
Developing a ‘yes I can’ mindset doesn’t happen on it’s own. It’s cultivated and nurtured. But the good news is that it is possible, and that you are the only one who can make it happen.