Ellen was having one of her usual conversations with herself. Sometimes they are about how to complete her to-do list. Sometimes they are about how to schedule a vacation. Sometimes they are about following God with renewed fervor. This time it was about failure.
This conversation often involves phrases like, “I’m an idiot” and “I can’t do anything right.”
Ellen knows the statements aren’t true. But that doesn’t stop them.
Until today. Something clicked as she was driving. It could have been because she had just been having a conversation about the ways that different people have different gifts. It could have been because she hit a bump and the needle on the record in her brain skipped.
“It’s not that I can’t do anything,” she said. “It’s that I can’t do this thing as well as people want.”
She grinned. It was an incredibly freeing thought. Or set of thoughts. She started to unpack the implications.
“First, there are things that I am capable of doing well,” Ellen thought. “I need to acknowledge and affirm those. They reflect skills and gifts that God built into me.”
The car in front of her slowed down. She held up two fingers to remember where she was in the list.
“Second, there is something that I’m not doing well,” she thought. “Which is fine. No one can do everything. But how do I know I’m not doing it well?”
She thought through her insight. “Ah. Other people’s expectations aren’t matching my performance. So it could be that I’ve had a blind spot. Or it could be that the expectations have a blind spot. Or it could be that we need to have a conversation to see if there are more things going on.”
Ellen sighed. One of her favorite self-defeating conversations was gone.
But she wouldn’t miss it. She had good work to do.