“…deriving one’s identity from another person is a short road to resentment.” — Rebekah Lyons
Yesterday, I read Rebekah Lyons’ book, Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning, from cover to cover. I read about half of it in the morning, before I even got out of bed. Then, I did my work for the day: I communicated with editors from The High Calling, worked on some stuff for #JTREAT 2015, answered email, made a quick run to the bank, cooked and ate dinner, and (sort of) cleaned the kitchen. After that, I settled myself into my favorite corner on the love seat in our tiny living room, and I finished that book.
From the back cover:
Rebekah found freedom when she faced her greatest fear, and she invites other women to do the same. For it is only when we freefall that we can truly fly.
There are a lot of things I admire about Rebekah Lyons; among them is just how comfortable she is in her own skin and how confident she is that all the rest of us have something special to offer the world. I sit with her and feel right at home.
For the most part, I feel comfortable in my own skin, too. But there are a couple of situations I can pretty much guarantee will send me into a bit of a panic. For most of my adult life, I’ve thought that was normal. I pretty much assumed I had these blind spots and that I’d simply have to accept them as part of who I am and as part of my circumstances, and soldier my way through them.
One of those blind spots for me has been money.
A couple of days ago, I was talking to my sister on the phone. She’s a life coach, and she’s really good at what she does. I needed some money advice, and I had already talked to H, but he was too close to situation, so we agreed I should call Karen. I gave her the rundown on my scenario, and she started asking me questions. She asks really good, and sometimes tough, questions. Eventually, I realized I was talking like a person who has what I’ve heard called a theology of scarcity. I can’t give you the details of this theology, but what I can tell you is that for a long time, I have operated on the assumption that I will never have enough. When I realized this in my conversation with my sister, she said, “Well, where do you think that comes from?”
Right away, I knew the answer. Years ago, when H and I were first married, we sought some much-needed advice from an accountant. This accountant came highly recommended and we went to him fully trusting he knew best. What he told us went something like this: “Oh my gosh! You two are in terrible shape and you will always be poor. You will never have enough, and I don’t even know how you’re going to make it, financially. You’re just not going to make it.” I’m not exaggerating. Those may not be the exact words, but the impression they made has never left me. I received those words like a curse. It’s amazing the power a few words can have on a person, isn’t it?
I said as much to my sister. I said something like, “It’s like he cursed me or something. But he doesn’t have power to curse me.” And my sister replied, “Well, apparently he does.” I’m not sure if she was wearing her sister hat or her coach hat in that moment. What I heard her telling me was that I had given that accountant the power.
Another blind spot for me correlates directly to our first few years here in Nebraska. It’s no secret that our transition to this church where H is the pastor was less than stellar. Every day there was a new crisis, a different family getting mad and leaving the church, a setback, an argument, a debacle. It was as if a dark cloud had descended and wrapped us up in a mantra of impossibility. It got to the point that every time H would come home or call me on the phone, he always had bad news to share. I began to dread his phone calls and the sound of his car pulling up in the driveway.
Over the years, God has been more than kind to us. The church has turned a corner, and our relationships there have begun to thrive. It’s a good place for us, and we are confident we are where God wants us. Life, indeed, is good. But, even in the midst of the good, I still find myself panicking whenever H calls me from church. And, when he comes home at the end of the day, I brace myself for bad news. Like Pavlov’s dog, something in me has been trained to anticipate disaster.
Reading Rebekah’s book yesterday caused these two blind spots to rise to the top of my mind. Earlier today, H sat in our overstuffed chair and I sat on that love seat and we talked about it. We talked about how I can’t seem to undo the way I’ve been “programmed.”
I don’t know why I’m sharing this with you. I guess it’s because I feel safe here. And because I might not be alone? And because Rebekah Lyons’ book made me brave enough to talk about this here with you, and I don’t think we’re supposed to settle for panic. And because maybe you have a story to share?