Recently, I've had this feeling of suspension--like, I'm one big lie that's going to come out one day. It's the feeling of walking around in clothes much too big. The dread of my guise dropping off and someone seeing me for who I truly am has haunted me, constantly.
I've heard that some people call it Imposter Syndrome. I've always just recognized it as my life-long battle with inferiority. For as far back as I can remember, there has always been a yawning gap between myself and others. The others seemed to come into life so well-equipped and so well-prepared to face whatever came next. What felt to me like mount Everest, to them, didn't even register as a molehill. And as I grew older, the feeling grew deeper and the realization that I was different from everyone else grew starker. People used words for me: "unique" or "special", but all I heard was "Less than desirable". Strangely enough, those feelings maturing into facts in my mind did not engineer a go-getting, pioneer attitude. The constant knowledge of my inferiority didn't metamorphosis me into an over-achiever. Maybe praise lost its luster, or maybe I saw it as far too unattainable, either way, I seemed to accept my inferiority as an unchangeable aspect of myself.
In my mind, I allowed myself to become less than human. I let people walk all over me. Sorry became my favorite word. I tried to stay absent from people, hoping not to disrupt their lives in any way, and when I had to participate with the other humans--those who were inbred with skills I didn't possess--I minimized myself and sold myself as cheaply as I could. I was written off. I was the butt of the joke.
It was easier to be those things than to stop and explore the depth of just how "unique" I was.
And with God, I guess, I took the same approach. I told Him I was His, if He wanted me. I showed Him all the broken parts, explaining that I was just too lazy or too juvenile to care about fixing myself and being as "good" as everyone else already was. And, I thought for the longest time, that that was the godly thing to do.
I've spent years, months, days--countless and irreplaceable seconds--of my life belittling myself on account of my failures and belittling my failures themselves in a never-ending loop. To be humble, I thought I had to be in constant memory of my downfalls...which wasn't hard since they were constantly playing in the back of my mind.
Overwhelmed with the throws of that imposter-feeling, I was drowning in the fear that I was not cut-out for life, and that my missing pieces would cause me to fail irredeemably someday. More than just that, I had become intimately acquainted with the idea that I was substandard due to my missing parts. I was dismally comfortable with the prospect that I would never measure up--never be respected or admired or loved.
I walked around with this parasite, like a blister consuming my whole person. It was tender to the touch of any word or glance or side-thought. Like a ticking in the back of my brain, it made me paranoid that everyone else knew something I didn't, and my oblivion would be revealed as my true stupidity. Stupid--what I really was under all those ill-fitting guises.
But then, Jesus stepped in--like He always does. And, taking my hand in His, He turned my belief about myself on its head. He has a way of prying cold-hard-fact out of my sore fingers, and showing me the old world in a new way through the lens of His essence.
When I was just a thought, conceived in the very mind of God, He inspected me from every angle. He took immense pleasure in me, and He planned out every aspect of my perfect creation. There are cracks in my stain-glass, yes, but Jesus knew there would be when He designed me. Like the masterful craftsman a god must be, He formed and folded and forged each pane of glass to incorporate and--celebrate, even--the cracks.
Jesus said: "Stop consuming the shame and letting it consume you. I didn't give you that. Where you see only pain and self-loathing, I see redemption at its best. Please, stop selling what I died to buy. Yes, you are small. Yes, you are different. Yes, you have been unseen and misunderstood, but not by Me. There is not a single thing that this life will require of you that I will not supply. What I left you lacking, I am prepared to give you now. As Creator, you came from Me, but as Provider, you must come back to Me. I'm right here, admiring your beauty. Daughter, I am the gift of grace through faith. You may lose faith in Me and in yourself, but know that my Grace is ever-constant. Infinity, in its entirety, cannot lessen the power of my Grace in your life."
It seems backward, and it seems wrong, but it means everything to me. Those words of freedom from shame mean that I can wake up ever morning in gratitude, not for what I have or who I am, but for what I am not. I accept the neglect that I suffered. I accept the depression I went through. I accept the harsh words and the side-eyes and the paranoia. In Christ's complete safety, I accept that I have only ever really made sense to Him.
God is complex, and I am made in His image. I cannot explain why I fail, and I cannot always stop it. I cannot always stop the emotional exhaustion, dehydration, or hunger. But, I can glory in the knowledge that every pain brings me closer to my Sustainer. The God-Man, who felt every throb and ache of my human heart and understands every longing I can only feel, is with me every hour with a new grace for every second of my mortal-existence.
The greatest adventure of my life will be running the length of God's grace and finding that it has no ending, only an infinite horizon.
Am I still comfortably inferior? No. Both Beauty and Brokenness are in the eye of the beholder. Who am I to compare the works of God from such a limited perspective? Who am I to pull down poorly-fitted trench coats and prod the parasitic scars of others? I would rather glory in the fractures God has gifted me, and try to glorify and love others--not in spite of their flaws--but in acceptance of them.
My life is only restrained by the boundless wells of my God's grace.
Am I inferior? No.
Am I broken? Graciously, so.