To all who have set aside their dreams due to anxiety, who suffer from failure of confidence, who fall into self-doubt time and again…
I am right there with you.
Sometimes, we rationalize our way out of pursuing our callings. We prioritize the logistics of day-do-day living and let our dreams fall behind, reluctant to confront our fears.
If this sounds like a confession, it is. I’ve let the Holy Spirit’s call go to voicemail. Fear of failure has stymied my pursuit of peace. The paralysis of anxiety and analysis has confined me for so long that I hardly know how to begin again. It’s times like these when I urgently need to hear the same message that I most wish to convey to others:
You are infinitely, unconditionally loved. You are an essential part of this interconnected and interdependent world. And to paraphrase St. Catherine of Siena, when you live into the person Love means for you to be, you will set the world on fire.
If you, like me, have put a call from the Spirit on hold, I want to move forward with you in solidarity. I have not overcome my fears — they still haunt and taunt me. But the Spirit sings louder when I tune Her in. I know that if I can slosh my way through the swamp of anxiety, I will grow stronger as I move along.
I’m struggling to let Love resurrect me, drag me back into the world from my grave of insecurity. And right now, Love is calling me to reach out to all who have felt this same self-imposed burial.
My hope is that we can encourage — breathe life into — one another in order to follow the Spirit into our callings, into who we are meant to be.
Feeling Like the Prodigal: Silencing The Voice Of Self-Reproachement
Sometimes, when we tune out our calling, a cacophony of guilt keeps us from tuning back in.
We know the Spirit is pulling us in a particular direction. But instead of following, we pummel ourselves with self-criticisms which only make us feel even less worthy of following our call. We tell ourselves that we’re not brave or wise enough and wallow in the quicksand memories of past failures. We fog up the future with mirages of doom fueled by self-doubt instead of letting hope light our way forward.
When I hide too long from my calling, I feel like the prodigal son (or, rather, daughter). I feel worthless and ashamed, like I’ve squandered my future and forfeited my chance of being who I was meant to be.
But the truth is, it is never too late to answer the Spirit’s call. Whether it’s something small like reaching out to an estranged friend or something monumental like working for world peace, if the Spirit is calling, we have the capacity to answer.
And when we do, we will see that Love is already embracing us.
We don’t have to apologize to the Spirit for taking so long to answer. We don’t have to try to explain all the fears that held us back. We don’t have to grovel or beg or launch into a litany of our unworthiness. Love preempts our pleadings and excuses with the truth that we belong, that we are beloved, and that nothing can keep us from living into who we are meant to be.
We are children of Love. We are reflections of Love. As much as we stumble over ourselves, we are made by, for, and in Love. And it’s never too late to live into that truth.
What To Believe In When You Can’t Believe In Yourself
But how do we take that initial step when we’re still stuck in our insecurities?
Even as I type, my doubts continue to nag me. For anxious people like me, it can be easier to believe in anything other than myself. I know my failures and shadow side better than anyone… except God. And though God knows me better than I know myself, insecurity still clouds my vision.
How do we move forward when self-doubt obscures our sight?
In my case, even when my faith in myself falters, my hope for a better world persists.
As long as I can imagine the change I wish to see in the world, hope is alive. In my better moments, I recognize this hope as the work of Love. And I recognize my imaginings themselves as the very first step towards action, even before I muster the courage to speak and act.
I hope for a world of dialogue and reconciliation. I hope for understanding that leads to cooperation even when full agreement is beyond reach. Above all I hope for a world in which everyone honors the full, inherent dignity of all. A world in which we are free to strive to meet the material, spiritual, emotional needs of one another. I hope for a world in which our mutual vulnerability leads not to defensiveness but empathy, compassion, and friendship.
If I can hope for these things, I can believe in their possibility, even when I doubt my own capacity to manifest them. When I focus not on my shortcomings but on the vision the Spirit presses upon me, I can work toward it.
When we act on God’s faith in us, our faith in ourselves will come.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As I harken back to the Spirit’s call of faithful peacemaking, I’m guided by the vision of a world at peace, a world of cooperation and healing, the Beloved Community that leaves no one out. The Spirit calls me to pursue this vision, but not to pursue it alone. I must do my part to help the world become Beloved Community. For Beloved Community only manifests when we follow Love into who we are meant to be.
What vision lies on the horizon of your deepest hopes and desires? That’s the vision that Love is calling you to pursue in your own way. If you doubt yourself, remember that the longing in your heart is itself a sign of Love’s faith in you.
Let’s follow where the Spirit calls us, guided by hope even when our faith in ourselves falters. We are not alone in our doubts and anxieties, but together in empathy and solidarity with all who struggle but still find the strength to move forward. Each step is progress.
God is resurrecting our faith in ourselves. We will move forward as we relieve the pressure on ourselves, forgive our own failings, and love ourselves as God loves us. It is enough that we keep moving, knowing that we have a small but vital role to play in the vision Love sets before us. In the words of Mother Theresa, “Our business is fidelity. God’s business is success.”
Image: When the Call of the Spirit rings off the hook. Photo by Quino Al via Unsplash.