Claiming Our Gifts

Recently I preached at a little church celebrating their “Homecoming Sunday.”   At the meal after the service, I chatted with the children.  I had brought some “bubble pens” and other colored pens to offer as little gifts to them.  When a young teen accepted one of the pens, she commented that she had lots already and proceeded to open a bag she had filled with dozens of sketching and coloring markers.  “How in the world did you come to have all these?” I asked. “I’m an artist!”  she answered.  And then she opened up a notebook full of her drawings, stunning in their detail, beauty and artistry.  She is, indeed, an artist….and even better yet, she claims that gift.

              At her age (about 15) I wonder how I might have owned any particular ability.  I knew better what my disabilities were.  I wasn’t an athlete.  I wasn’t a musician.  I was shy and didn’t consider anything I did noteworthy.  But I did well in English and I enjoyed dabbling in writing.  But I would have never declared “I am a writer!”

               Some years back I took a continuing education class in writing.  The teacher said even if you simply wrote a column for the church newsletter, you should take some token payment you could choose to return as a donation.  She strongly recommended that we get business cards made that identified ourselves as writers.  In some recent conversation, I heard myself say “I’m a writer.”  I was startled.  I normally say “I like to write” or “I was editor on my high school paper and always worked on school newspapers in college.” 

              For years I would not identify myself as a minister.  If I was to preach a sermon at church, I would only say I would be in the pulpit that Sunday, a somewhat quirky distinction.  This week in a unanimous vote, I was elected settled pastor at a church in Montana.  In the time I spent in that little town, I introduced myself as the new pastor.  I marvel every time I say that. 

              I once read where many models do not see themselves as beautiful.  There are certainly successful people who admit to feeling like “frauds,” viewed as competent by others but internally wracked with insecurity.  I admitted to a therapist friend once that I had always felt my abilities inferior to hers.  She declared “Oh, no!  You were always my role model.  I hoped I would be as good a therapist as you.”

            Imposter Syndrome is a term used to describe an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. While this definition is usually narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context.

         To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a phony—you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud. The term that was first used by psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s.1 When the concept of IS was introduced, it was originally thought to apply mostly to high-achieving women. Since then, it has been recognized as more widely experienced. (from the article “What Is Imposter Syndrome” by Arlin Cuncic).

         May we challenge any such thoughts that undermine our acknowledging and claiming our gifts.

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus: “Never again will someone be made like you. Do not deny the world your gifts by doubting them.” ~The Daily Love