It was just another morning. Just another meeting. A gathering of professionals, conference room brimming with degrees and smarts. The best of the best. I settled into my seat and looked around.
“Well, shoot,” I thought. “I FOR REAL don’t belong here.”
And from there, it spiraled. Fast.
“What if someone sees me? Sees me for who I really am? Sees that I clearly don’t belong within their ranks? What if I’m found out?“
I wanted to jet. Stat. I wanted to peace out before the secret was out. Before anyone else had the chance to point out the imposter in the room.
Shortly thereafter, it happened again. I had posted something online. A Facebook status, maybe. An innocuous quip that prompted someone to throw out the “w” word.
“Wise.” She called me wise. The hairs on the back of my neck bristled. “Delete!” I thought.
I wanted to pull the plug on putting my words out there. Because if I quit writing, people wouldn’t mistake me for something I wasn’t. I didn’t want to be found out.
Or I could tell you about the church meeting I sat in. With a whole slew of Jesus-loving, Bible-knowing people. People I love and respect. Church leader sorta people. And, yet, all I could think was, “Out. I gotta get outta here. Don’t they know that I haven’t been to seminary? That I’m not nearly as articulate as they are? I’m a nurse and a mom… a far cry from a fancy ‘Professional Christian.’ I. Do. Not. Belong.”
Same song, different verse. All with a common trailing thread and same toxic theme:
Hear me when I say- this is not about humblebrags. This is not a veiled plea for a pat on the back and a hearty “No, no, Catherine. You belong! You’re great!” No, this is a confession of how my heart can turn in on itself. It’s an acknowledgement of sin. It’s my head nodding “me too” to any of you who may live in the fear of being seen.
I know enough about myself to know this full-well: when I’d rather quit while I’m ahead than finish the work God has set before me… when I allow myself to become preoccupied with the feeling of not belonging… when I’d rather peace out that be found out… my eyes are focused squarely on me. I’m hinging everything on my feelings, while tossing truth to the side.
Feelings lie. But the truth?
Well, I’ll let King David do the job for me. Hang on, friends. This is good.
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,’
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.”
In short? You’re already found out, my friend. So am I. We can flee and we can cover up and we can believe lies about ourselves all the livelong day, but we’re not about to escape the reach of our omnipresent and omniscient God.
So, dear mama who is knee deep in child-raising… The mom who cringes when she hears, “You’re doing a great job, mama! Keep it up!” Because SHE knows the truth. She’s well-acquainted with her messy house and often-messier attitude. “Little do they know,” she thinks.
Dear businesswoman who’s kicking tail and putting in the hours at her job… Who’s climbing the ranks and earning the accolades but has a nagging sense of dread. Dread that someone, someday, will view her for who she truly is. An imposter. A wanna-be.
Dear ministry leader who is running hard after good things… You who tirelessly train, lead, teach, and disciple. You who, in the quiet of the night and in the still of the day, still find yourself questioning, “Do I have what it takes? Are my Bible smarts up to par? Is my prayer life robust enough? Am I ‘good enough’ to be leading these people? What if someone sees me for who I really am?”
Dear anyone anywhere who has ever feared being found out, I have a few questions for you. A few points that have been helpful in my own journey and with my own VERY REAL ISSUES.
1. Am I placing more value on who God says I am or who others perceive me to be?
2. Am I placing more emphasis on who God says I am or who God says HE IS?
3. Am I more interested in presenting a perfected version of myself to the world or an already-perfect picture of my Savior?
4. Is my quest for belonging and identity misplaced? Am I looking for my identity in an earthly job, role, or organization?
5. Do I spend more time lamenting my own weaknesses or praising God for the strengths and abilities of others?
6. If my fears come true, and I am seen for who I really am- if I am found out– what then?
Listen. If your biggest fear is being found out, then let me just fill you in on a little secret.
It’s already come to fruition.
You don’t need to fear being found out; you’re already perfectly known by the One whose opinion holds all worth. He looks at you with eyes of love and with a spirit of mercy, grace, and kindness. He sees you and says, “You’re right, my daughter. You don’t measure up. Not in the least. You’re not enough. But in me and with me and through me and because of me, you are whole. You’re not enough, but I totally am.”
And that, my friends, is where freedom is found. Rather than wringing our angsty little hands and crying, “Heaven forbid I’m found out,” we can pray, “God of of the Heavens, find me, see me, search me, and know me.”
And he will. And he does. And, still, he loves.
So, if my life is laid bare for all the world to see, I pray that people would look long and hard. But I pray that they would gaze right past me. That they would see Christ and his strength in my weaknesses. I pray that any strength or gifting I may have would herald the Giver of everything good. And that they would see his grace and mercy completely overtaking any and every sin in my life.
Maybe I have nothing to fear after all. Maybe this whole “being found out” thing- maybe it’s a gift after all.