I did it! Or, more accurately, God did it. Because the things I had to do, the battles I had to fight in order to gain that confidence, are not pursuits I would have embarked upon without Him nudging me along.
But embark I did. Sometimes you just know that the direction you're headed in is exactly where you need to be going-- even if you don't know the route-- so you keep lacing up your boots and walking it out.
I signed up for some pretty big challenges this year. I faced long-held fears in spades. I found my voice. I spoke truth to power. I showed up (even when I didn't want to). I drove the bus. I stood with others. I stood alone.
I braved the wilderness (as Brene Brown puts it in her latest book).
And I'm not gonna lie: it was pretty epic. And also really hard. (It was pretty much like giving birth.)
But as I survey the landscape of 2018 before me, I realize something both true and sobering: no amount of singing the Exodus song at the top of my lungs, declaring my freedom, and straining toward what is ahead will catapult me into the Promised Land.
The reality is: the land that we are promised is not a mere stone's throw away from the land of our enslavement. They are separated by wilderness, and the wilderness is not a warp tunnel. The wilderness is vast.
You don't travail the expanse of the wilderness in one victorious year. You don't clinch your freedom with one melodious song. The road between slavery and total freedom is the span of, well, Earth. The wilderness journey requires you to suit up and show up day after day, year after year, victory after victory, loss after loss.
Braving the wilderness takes a lifetime.
It also takes a village.
Last year, I said I wanted to not only gain confidence for myself, but to bring others along with me. I believe that no progress we make or ground we gain is ever for us alone. We are made to be free and to help others be free.
We fight for freedom together.
This year, I fought the battles I was called to fight with all the valor and integrity I knew I had in me. And I got to do so alongside some pretty incredible people.
And you know what? I discovered something life-changing: I like me. Strong and weak, good & bad, right & wrong, I am a person of worth. I'm worth getting to know. I'm worth spending time with. I'm worth listening to. I'm worth fighting for. I'm worth a seat at the table.
My all-time favorite quote on confidence says this:
Show up in every single moment like you're meant to be there. -Marie ForleoThis statement perfectly bridges my goal for last year with my focus for this new year. You can stand with confidence when you believe you belong.
For 2018, I will be exploring issues related to belonging. Not "how to" belong. Rather, how I already belong-- even in my non-conformity-- and how I can extend a sense of belonging to others, especially those who are not like me.
At a time in history when polarization and exclusion are at an all-time high, I want to be a person who not only accepts her own unique place at the table with confidence and humility, but who pulls out a chair for others, regardless of where they stand.
We all belong to one great, big, human family. Created for community. Designed for destiny.
At God's great banqueting table, there's a place-setting for each of us: complete with a glass, our name etched along the side, filled to the brim with the water of Life, since before the world began.
Will you join me in raising your glass?
Here's to confidence. Here's to belonging. Here's to 2018.