Before my first cup of coffee, I am one of three things; grumpy, useless, or non-existent.
That’s what I tell people anyway. It’s funny, the offhand things that you say about someone, even yourself, tend to stick. My brother once pointed out my self-effacing nature, and that he didn’t much like that side of personality. Don’t get me wrong, it’s like I always say, you can’t take yourself too seriously to make fun of yourself. However just like Victor Hugo wrote in Les Misérables “Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.”
The Bible puts that in different words, simply stating that the power of life and death is in the tongue. Is it just the tongue? The Bible is full of people with issues—David had some adultery problems, Paul persecuted the Christians before becoming one himself, and who doesn’t love Peter-Maker-of-a-thousand-mistakes?—and there’s been some serious Biblical negative self-talk. Moses and Gideon come to mind instantly.
But it didn’t stop there did it?
Moses, for example, just didn’t expect that anyone, even God, could make something out of him. My favorite of his excuses was “I am slow at speech,” meaning he probably had a slight speaking problem. Or Gideon, who told God (as if God didn’t know) “I’m the least of my Tribe and my Tribe is the least of my people.”
It seems very much to me that what we say, has a lot to do with what we actually believe.
As a writer, I’m all for good humor—why not? Life is too short to not laugh, even a bit at yourself. There are some occasions when you can sit back and realize that you’re human, fallible and can make mistakes, and they say laughter is the best medicine. And let’s face facts here, we can’t be like Superman.
Disappointing, I know.
And life is hilarious. 5 O’clock traffic is reminiscent of 5th Grade dodge ball, trying to get your kids to bed is much like trying to herd cats, and for students, there’s always that one class that’s the equivalent of being pecked to death by a chicken. What’s not to laugh at?
I don’t know about you, but I can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, and contrary to the belief of the children who live in my neighborhood, I’m not a Jedi either. Thus, like so many others, I started to believe the grand lie that I was average, just like anyone else. Nothing special or new to see here.
God didn’t much like that line of thinking, though, and you know how pushy He can be. In a way, God made us all super. Granted, He hasn’t given me the superpowers I keep praying for, such as flight, or telepathy, but He gave each of us quite unique skills and talents, and more, a potential.
Ah, yes, that word—the mystical P word.
Sure, we’ve all heard the Jeremiah 29: 11 speech, right? Yes, yes, we know, we know. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a good future. It’s on T-Shirts. It’s on stickers. Bumper stickers. Pins. Notebooks. Posters. It seems that theme is on everything, everywhere except where it needs to be; on your heart.
The fact of the matter is, what we say about ourselves matters, and more, what we expect from ourselves influences us in more ways than we can ever imagine. I often say that when we expect nothing from ourselves, nothing will come, neither disappointment or fulfillment. But when we expect greatness and push for that greatness, incredible possibilities open up.
For Christians, there is certainly much more to it. Take Joshua, the successor of Moses. God said Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. And Joshua, like Abraham and Moses before him, set on a journey, forward. Like Lot, they did not look back. I often wondered why, but I suppose it makes sense—it takes both strength and courage to keep one’s eyes looking forward. There’s just always going to be things you have to leave behind you.
So in that light, it seems the correct line of thinking is clear; imagine greater, expect more. The haves and the have nots, the advantages and the disadvantages, they do no separate the successful from not unsuccessful—rather the dreamers and the excusers, the imaginative and the average-minded, those are the real lines in the sand. In a way, it’s all in your head, but I think more, it’s all in your heart. What you say reflects what you believe. Believe more.
Raise your expectations.