(Cover art courtesy of www.harpercollinschristian.com)
You Weren’t Made to Play Small
Taken from Growing Boldly by Emily Ley. Copyright © 2021 by Emily Ley. Used by permission of HarperCollins Christian Publishing Inc. www.harpercollinschristian.com.
Maybe it’s because I’m pushing forty. Or maybe it’s the buckets of experience I’ve had as a scrappy entrepreneur, but I’m done playing small, shrinking or dimming to make others comfortable. You too? This is fire, y’all, and I feel it so strongly. I’m ready to say hard things, to be proud of my achievements, and to press into the uncomfortable for the sake of hope and what could be.
You weren’t made to play small. You weren’t made with a light that requires dimming for the comfort of others. No way, no how. When you achieve a goal, celebrate. When you fail, apologize. And when you are afraid, lean into it, name it, hold it, and then set it aside. When you feel those slivers of confidence bubbling up, grab hold of them. The world needs who you are.
Confidence isn’t the aura of someone who has come out on top every single time. Confidence comes when we learn a truth about life, about the nature of people, about the character of God, and about strength we didn’t know we had.
If I sat in front of each of you and asked how you discovered whatever sliver or slice of confidence you have, when you really began to trust that God’s got this and trust your gut, you’d probably each tell me about a hard thing. A season of struggle. A time when you were torn down…to be built back up. Or maybe you’d tell me you don’t yet know. Confidence has escaped you and you’re searching desperately to know one thing with certainty.
I once heard writer and speaker Priscilla Shirer say, “We are all in one of three places. We’re either right smack in the middle of something, coming out of something, or on our way into something. But this is where we get to know the glory of God.” The hard times are when we have to lean on Him, trusting that He will build us back up, that He will resurrect us from the rubble, that He will breathe life back into us when all seems lost…this is where our confidence is unearthed. And you better believe I will wear my hard-won confidence proudly. Through difficult stuff and the challenging stuff, the triumphs and the tragedies, coming undone and being put back together, I have fought for and won my confidence. And so have you.
I have made costly business mistakes and faced the challenge of earning that money back so I could try again. (Hard-won confidence now reminds me: you can face hard things and come out the other side.) I have set goals and worked my tail off to achieve them, even if the journey took a really long time. (Hard-won confidence now reminds me: if you dare to do the work, the end result can be yours). I use this hard-won confidence to strengthen my resolve as I step into the next season of life. Won’t you come alongside me?
Oprah Winfrey was once asked by renowned film critic Gene Siskel to share what she knew for sure. She was caught off guard and fumbled for her words. Finally, she said, “I’m not sure. But I’m going to spend some time figuring that out.” Whether you’re in Oprah’s shoes or standing firm in your truths, here are a few things I know for sure that I’d like to share with you.
- You were not made to play small.
- Your life, no matter what it looks like, has profound significance.
- God won’t let you down. You can trust Him. You can also trust your gut. He’s in there too. I fully believe that when we are filling our hearts with truth, our gut feelings can often represent the urgings of the Holy Spirit.
Go be effortlessly you. Wear those big feather earrings. Go spend some alone time with your Legos. Get lost in those books you love. If you like that Pokémon hat sideways, girl you wear it proudly. Does it make you uncomfortable for someone to tell you that you can go and do the thing? That you can own the thing? That you can achieve all that stuff on your heart? Turn that noise down. Get comfortable with your confidence. In the coming chapters, we’re going to dig into the delicate balance between hustle and rest and what it means to work smart. First things first, you be you. The world needs you.
May we embrace all sides of ourselves—deep and surface, forward and behind us, within and around us. May we find beauty in our imperfections and grace in our shortcomings. May we confidently, boldly proclaim that we have what we need to take that next step forward. May we go bravely into tomorrow, assured that we can be effortlessly ourselves and be more than enough in the light of God.