I’m a coward.

My worn, white high-top vans cushioned my stance as I’d neglected the chair in the heat of the moment in the cool of Ugly Mugs café.

You know what, Deb? I’m starting to believe that maybe you are.

These words of hers actually were deeply kind and hit me with the best sort of pain. You see, less than seven months earlier, I’d moved into an empty room in her house and our conversations had moved through the house into me. There were the early days – when I said “mom’s mom” instead of grandma and she had an indicator of some distance and distrust, when we would discuss our ability to share so much without venturing into vulnerability.

Our deep-striking banter crystalized through the enneagram. I have a love hate relationship with personality tests, mainly that I love to hate how much I think they can become a crutch in our lives keeping us from conforming to Christ instead of a tool to help us do just that. But as an eight, she’d challenged me to dive deeper. At first, we thought I was an eight. A flame that burns too intensely. A force with trust troubles and angered strength. But the truth began: my not only fleeing but denial of pain, my constant hunger for new, my love of the laugh. I am a seven, painting hope over piercing pain because I’m afraid. Deeply, deeply afraid.

I’d recognized the tendencies.

Oh, I’m not going to tell him that. Even though I’m also the co-founder of this magazine, he’s older, more experienced. What do I have to offer? I’m sure he sees things more clearly. Yes, I have this idea for this digital marketing campaign, but I’m so new. What do I have to suggest to my college that they haven’t already thought about? Yeah, I’m the vice president of student government, but he knows better. I just probably am wrong. I don’t know what I don’t know, so how can I know that I actually have anything to give?

Insecurity masked as respectful deference.
Fear covered in a silent excuse that I’ll say more when I know more, have done more, have earned more years.

I’m afraid.

I’m afraid if I stand up, I’ll be told that I’m so wrong so shut up.
I’m afraid if I step up, all I’ll be is standing alone, having tried to contribute and failed.


If I, then I. When I, then I. Till I, then I.


You see, I think it goes back farther than I’d even care to admit. I used to not have a filter. I used to have a much shorter circuit between what’s in my mind and heart to my mouth. I was fire. I’d ride home from the soccer games, words faster than my sprint after the soaring sphere. I’d watch what was happening at youth group, spewing opinion opinion opinion afterwards.

Then, I started going. Going to a new school as a fourth grader. Looking out at all the people and just wanting to have a place to fit. To understand why their parents drove Lexuses and they could buy their lunch in the hot lunch line instead of carrying a brown bag with the sandwiches like I did. To know why they could spend their time thinking about the next movie they were going to see on their cruise vacation while I was thinking about how that movie didn’t make me think about my Christ I told the wide-eyed, worn souled kids about on Wednesday nights.

When I tried to share my words, I saw. People didn’t think like I talked. So, I learned to talk like they think.

Say words that will make them like you.
Learn to understand their world that seems so different than yours.
Figure out this game of how to live their way.
Because their way is right, and you’re wrong.

I didn’t realize that when I learned to figure it all out, I was learning to keep others out.
I didn’t realize that when I learned to hide myself, I was learning how to carry the burdens of my unpursued dreams.
I didn’t realize that what started as a girl’s desire to securely know she was valuable and loved and could trust people enough to share her soul would turn into a woman’s exhausted habit of living with her head and not her heart.

Doubt would become the rule of my days. I’d trade rest for resentment. I would hide, masking her insecurity as a shield of logic.

For being known and rejected might be one of the biggest fears of all.

I am a coward.

I’m afraid that people won’t like me.
I’m afraid that maybe I’m actually not likeable in the first place.

And I’m so afraid of preserving whatever semblance of happy stability and competence I can give myself that I don’t emerge with my whole heart into the word, trapped by my self-deception that it’s better safer happier right inside me. That people aren’t worthy of trust. That people aren’t ready to hear truth because they might not like the truth giver. That no one understands and never will.

But truth.

“Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourself. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

Listen to my own circular thoughts. Deceive myself into believing that the world is a big scary place that is waiting to slaughter me and my dreams. Do nothing.

Maybe it’s as simple as one step after another.
One small courage in the face of fear.
One conversation more ruled by what I think not just how I think they talk.
One day of putting the needs of others in front of the insecurity I hold as my own.
One deep breath and realizing that the world just might need the uninhibited contribution of yes, even me.
One word closer to being from my heart and not just my head.

I am a coward.
And maybe it’s one day at a time of realizing that it’s not about me.

And I cannot even take a step.
I need transformation.
But I know the one who saves.

Courage, dear heart (c.s. lewis).


I definitely don't want this to be a monologue. What are your thoughts? Questions? Ideas?