Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"I Have This Thing In My Gut"

By Suanne Camfield

I have this thing in my gut.

And, call me crazy, but for a long time, I swear it was taunting me.

Now, as the youngest of four, I readily acknowledge that I carry some baggage—baggage filled with twisted perceptions and unsolicited insecurities—when it comes to voices that taunt. As a child it came in many different forms, all of which left me feeling an inch too short, a step too slow, a few undeveloped brain cells behind. I was the pest who tried to keep up, the small frenetic footsteps that raced to be in the room only to be met by the slam of the door and the click of the lock.

Go ahead—roll your eyes, for this is the rite of passage which bonds “youngests” throughout time. I know, I really do, but knowing hasn’t left me unscarred. No matter how many birthdays I celebrate, no matter how many of life’s milestones I slip under my belt, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m the tagalong, the annoying little kid who’s not to be seen or heard.

And now I’m a writer and a speaker. Baggage compounded with irony.

So, it makes sense then, that this thing in my gut—this churning, burning, indescribable thing that compels me to use my gifts—would echo the voices I’ve believed most of my life. Only there’s no Thanksgiving dinner filled with convivial banter and back-slapping memories to reassure me that I am, in fact, loved. There’s just a dark, pernicious voice whose growing ego finds satisfaction in exploiting the chinks in my armor.

You’re not smart enough.
You’re not good enough.
You are not wanted here.
Go somewhere else.
And for crying out loud, shut up.
Slam. Click. Lock.

One sleepless night, I was wrestling with the voice. It was loud and belligerent and all I could think of was how it felt like the giant Philistine was yelling in my ear. And then I remembered. I remembered the story of another youngest. A runt of a boy who had seven brothers. A boy whose age and inexperience rendered him useless. A boy who was told to mind his own business. A boy who was almost forgotten. A boy who was used to having doors slammed in his face. A boy the voice mocked.

Yet he was the one.

And then it hit me with one abrupt slap. I couldn’t believe I had fallen for it. You see, I had forgotten the end of the story. I forgot that the boy doesn’t heed the voice. I forgot that the giant’s head gets served up on a platter. I forgot that the boy wins. The voice had it all wrong. And so did I. I had mistakenly thought that the thing in my gut and the voice that taunted were one in the same, when in reality, the voice hates the thing.

I’d guess that some of you have a thing in your gut too. An untamable force that compels you to be who God created you to be and to do that which he has gifted you to do. An indescribable passion to mark the eternity of the lives you brush. A thing that is, at its core, the power of God living in each one of us. Okay, more than that. It’s God himself. he is the thing in your gut.

And the voice? I’m pretty sure you’ve figured that out by now.

Look, I don’t know what baggage you carry. I don’t know what voice makes you toss and turn in the middle of the night. I don’t know what lies the ugly Philistine is whispering in your ear, but when you can’t get it out of your head, try taking a line from David’s script: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty…This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head” (1 Samuel 17:45-46).

Slam. Click. Lock.

Then declare victory in the Name of the Lord God Almighty.

Suanne Camfield is a freelance writer, retreat speaker, and well-received teacher who lives in the Chicago area with her family.

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