Oh ye of little – I mean no – faith

Oh ye of little – I mean no – faith

“I yam what I yam an’ tha’s all I yam.”

Such were the words of the quintessential philosopher, Popeye. I have been thinking a great deal about how profound those words were by the bulging biceped sailor man with the rail thin girlfriend. There is a great deal of meaning to be found in that phrase.

Those words struck me recently as I was watching the series “The Right Stuff” on Disney+. The series chronicles the lives of the original Gemini astronauts. It gave you a glimpse at them as people and their families — although I am sure some creative liberties were taken to make it “better” viewing. 

I found myself drawn to John Glenn. Glenn wanted to do something great — something for which people would forever remember him. That line of thinking resonated with me. And I saw some similarities in our personalities. But there was one big — dare I say, huge — difference between us, and that is Col. Glenn was an extremely talented man with a tremendous amount of self-confidence.

As I have been doing some serious self-evaluation, I have found that I really have no self-confidence. I have no real faith in myself and I don’t believe I have any real talent. Sure, there are some things I I am “good” at, but there is not that one thing that when I am gone people will remember me for as they do John Glenn.

I’m not sure when I lost confidence in myself — or if I ever really had any. If I did at one time have faith in myself, I am not sure what happened to it. I could blame two former supervisors I had that were — well there’s no easy way to say this — real jackasses. Nothing I did was ever good enough for these two. Despite others saying I was doing good work, these two were never satisfied. All I knew to do was to work longer and harder, and even that was never enough.

Truth is I don’t believe I even had any self-confidence prior to these two tearing down any self-esteem I might have had. I can look back and see several instances of me not believing in myself. I can look to my college days and recall not pursuing a career in medicine. I have always tried to play it off as having issues with this and that, but the truth is I never believed that I would be good enough to be the doctor I longed to be.

I can reflect back to tossing away the biggest dream I ever had — playing professional golf. I loved the game when I was young and thought I was pretty good. Then one day, I’m not sure when, it dawned on me that no matter how hard I worked I wasn’t going to be good enough. I have no idea if this was true because I simply quit due to a lack of confidence in myself.

Maybe my belief that I have no talent stems from the fact that I am surrounded by so many truly talented people. My father was (and still is) a damn good, dedicated doctor. My mother is an amazingly gifted woman in so many ways. My grandfather was a wonderful woodworker. My grandmother was a superb seamstress. My other grandmother was a beautiful pianist/organist. My grandfather was a wonderful orator and pastor.

And it doesn’t stop there. My brother is a computer genius and has so many other amazing talents. And topping the list is my amazing wife who’s talent never ceases to amaze me. From being an amazing teacher and counselor to an unbelievable mother, she floors me with her talent each and every day. And I won’t even begin to discuss the uber-talented journalists I work with and have worked with.

All this talent surrounds me and I wake up in the morning, look at myself in the mirror and say, “I can’t even grow a beard.” I certainly can’t sit here and blame anyone for how I see myself. Yes, some people have been less than loving and uplifting with their critiques of me, but at the end of the day, how I see myself is all about me and not about them.

Now, I know what is going to happen as some of you read this — you are going to quickly tell me that I’m wrong. I know the words will be meant to uplift and encourage, but never tell a person who has taken the time to take a long, hard look at themselves that they are wrong. For you see, how a person sees him or herself is a truly personal thing. And it will only further exasperate a person if you tell them their opinion is wrong. Sure you can offer love, encouragement and support, but do so in a loving manner and not a condescending one.

Another thing that some of you may ponder is — why share this? What good does it do to be critical of yourself and make it public? For me the answer is two-fold – first, I am sure I am not the only one who will read these words who thinks he isn’t talented or who lacks self-confidence. I’m not the only who has been told he has missed his calling and thought, “I don’t even know what my calling is.” So, my hope would be that if that is you that you can see you are not alone. There are plenty of us who think we have little to offer and who long to find a way to make an impact on the world around them. 

Second, these feelings have been boiling up inside me for years and they needed to come out. They were poison in my soul and the damage they have done has been severe. The negative light I see myself in is not healthy and I had to give voice to it. For you see, in order to improve you first have to admit you have a problem. If I am going to find some hidden talent I didn’t know I had or if I am going to find self-confidence, I need to admit it’s an area I need to address. So you are witness to me now — I am a person who needs to change to make the best use of the years I have left.

At the end of the day, we all have those things in life that we don’t like about ourselves that we want to conquer. Those things can be overwhelming, depressing and even toxic. But I’m here to tell you that nothing will ever change if you don’t take the time to seriously examine your life and make a decision to change. If I am going to be the person God intends me to be, I need to deal with this part of my life.

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading. I appreciate you taking the time to hear me out. And for those of you who are struggling with similar issues, I am here for you. Together we can change. Together we can offer each other the confidence we might not be able to find in ourselves. And maybe together we can find a powerful way to leave a lasting mark on the world.

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