You Are Okay
This past month at the Exponential East conference in Orlando, Florida, Bloom officially released its fifth book, Named + Known: Uncovering the Identities of Women who Plant Churches. This book is a collection of stories by fourteen women who are on the ground in church planting and is based around the topic of identity.
I have coordinated this book project over the last nine months–it has been a joy to read each woman’s chapter and work with our editing team to make each story the best it can be. As first drafts kept coming in last year, I began to have the same conversation over and over again with some of the authors. Here’s a brief snippet of how it went:
Writer: Here’s my draft. Is this okay? I don’t know if it’s good or if I wrote anything worthwhile or if it’s even what you’re looking for.
Me (after reading the draft): This chapter is amazing. This writer has an amazing story and I’m incredibly glad she told it. She has something to say.
Here’s the thing that I must admit: I said the same things that the writers said in the other side of this conversation as I was submitting my own drafts to my editing team! Several times I caught myself second guessing myself and the chapters that I was tasked to write.
Why do we do this (myself included!)? We fight this internal dialogue as we navigate our lives and ministries. Maybe you have asked yourself one or more of the following questions:
- Am I okay?
- Can God really use me?
- Do I have anything worthwhile to say?
Deep down, I know the answer to these questions is yes (for all of us!) but I’m not sure I always live like I believe it. In Named + Known, I shared about another season when I really was doubting my own identity:
When we first decided to plant a church in 2012, blogging was still incredibly popular, Facebook was in its prime, Pinterest was a new medium that everyone was talking about (especially women), and Instagram was rapidly becoming a place for people to creatively and beautifully document their lives. Unfortunately, I had unknowingly set myself up for failure because I was trying to make my life look just like the perfect images and stories I was hooked to online.
I was trying to make my home look flawless like a Pottery Barn catalog (on a Target budget), just like my favorite Instagram account.
I was trying to have a trim zero budget, pinching every penny, just like my favorite coupon clipper online.
I was trying to make all of my baby’s food at home with the least amount of ingredients, just like all the mom chefs on Pinterest.
I was trying to keep my kid on a strict (but not too strict, because I’m a cool mom!) schedule, just like the other mommy-bloggers were doing. And whenever I googled anything about raising kids, I’d read how horrible of a mom I was—and how my kid would be scarred for life—for even thinking about putting my kid on a schedule.
I saw people on Facebook posting daily about how they were crushing P90X, and I could barely climb my stairs without getting winded.
I saw church planters who were less than one year old and crushing it with dozens of baptisms, crisp marketing, and full auditoriums.
I was completely overwhelmed with information and standards and pressure. So much pressure. One afternoon my husband Josh came home to eat lunch, and I began to give him all of my words before he even made himself a sandwich. Words turned to tears, and the tears turned to sobs.
Marriage tip: we have learned that sometimes I just have to get my words out. Sometimes this practice alone doesn’t require anything from Josh; he can listen without solving, and it’s a win for both of us. It’s especially helpful for him to hear from the start that I don’t need a solution. That frees him up to listen. This time was different: I needed help. And Josh knew it. In love, he gently told me, “You can’t be all of those women all at once.” That was exactly what I was trying to do.
This is why relationships are so important—whether it’s a spouse, a close friend, or a mentor, we must have other voices in our lives who can help see our blind spots. Part of being secure in our identity is knowing that there are some things we cannot see on our own and being open to trusted voices in our lives.
The section above continues on in Named + Known and introduces three additional stories about secure identity; stories about how women have found victory and freedom in their lives.
Whether you’re struggling with negative self talk, questioning yourself, or feeling like you can never measure up, I encourage you to put words on these insecurities and fight them with truth: truth found in Scripture and in relationships with trusted friends and cheerleaders. We will never be able to fully live into our own God-given identities unless we genuinely believe what God says about us.
You are okay.
God can use you.
And you do have something to say.
Heidy helps empower women to thrive in all areas of church planting. Prior to church planting and her role in Bloom, Heidy worked for 10 years in Leadership Development and Higher Education. She and her husband Josh planted Movement Church in Newport, KY in March, 2014 and have two amazing kiddos, Isaac and Clara Jo. Heidy is also passionate about storytelling and making any event or activity just a little more fun.Heidy Tandy