My dear friend, Micaila-Ayorinde, is an artist, creative consultant, and motivational speaker. Each time I have the honor of teaching a course, I invite her to help students set their intention for the journey they’re about to embark on.
On this day, she posed a series of why questions to my new class of high school students — the type of why that’s like an earthquake shaking beneath your beliefs, loosening all that you thought was certain. When a bright-eyed, enthusiastic student responded that the reason she enrolled in the class was so that she would not go out and disappoint herself, Micaila erupted with a resounding, “Who are you to disappoint yourself when you are NOT the One who appointed yourself?”
The strength of her words swiftly plowed down the self-doubt that typically resides in the company of teens. Her words landed like a massive boulder in the middle of my classroom, and only conviction could stand under the weight of her tone. As if one body, the students and I all felt the heaviness of her inquiry putting our souls in check. The weight of her words knocked the wind out of us, and the only air in the room was from our collective exhale.
I mumbled, “Wow, that was deep!” Another student, a young man, concurred with my statement.
We sat quietly, attending to her words. She continued to uplift us with more wonderful words and light-filled exhortations that challenged and defeated dark spaces within. But those particular words she said at the beginning of class rattled me for the rest of the week.
For days, I reflected. How many times had I been stalled by my own weighty expectations of where I should be in life, how I should look, how I should perform as a daughter, wife, mom, or woman? I had been paralyzed by self-blame and doubt. I had chained shame around my own neck and secured it to an indestructible manacle. I had allowed old failures to run rampant as present fears. I had let down my parents, failed my husband, and caused my children to doubt me. I was guilty of disappointing myself.
But that question questioned the validity of my status and power. It challenged my perceived authority to disappoint myself. The super-nerd in me ran towards a word study. Appoint means to determine, designate, or assign by authority to a position. The prefix, dis, means a reversing force.
In my finite power and status as a mom, wife, daughter, woman, etc., I can do a lot of dis-ing:
I can be discouraged or even disgusted because something didn’t go my way.
I can tell lies and be dishonest.
I can cheat and be disqualified and feel disgraced.
I can discover and disclose secrets about myself that might cause me to be disliked and disrespected and thus, disassociated, dispelled, and disowned from the tribe.
But because I did not appoint myself to this position in life, it is impossible for me to dis-appoint myself. I simply don’t have the authority to do it.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
I can not reverse the force of the most gifted Creator. The One who is Love determined my true identity. The One who is infinitely wise designated and assigned me to this position in life. The One who appointed me is not sad or displeased with me. All of my shortcomings, every misstep, every mistake, all of the doubt and failures are not enough to unseat me from my position. Absolutely nothing can separate me from the love of the One who appointed me. Therefore, I can not dis-appoint myself.
As I’ve been meditating on my lack of authority and coming to grips with how it feels to be released from the burden of disappointing even myself, I feel both demoted and promoted, heavy and light, limited and liberated. I was wrong to perceive that I walk in the authority to count myself out. I have not been afforded appointing status and capabilities. Apparently such are above my pay grade. I am grateful to have been designated to a position in life without the responsibility of judging myself.
And, in embracing this reality, I am elevated to a new level of liberty. I feel more free to run the race set before me with less fear of misstepping. I will make mistakes, but apparently the position calls for imperfection. Liberated from the weight of disappointing myself, I am launched into possibilities that exceed my imagination.