It was one of the few practices for the frogs of my fifth grade class play Once Upon a Lily Pad. I started to cry while the lead frog was singing her solo. I told my teacher I was crying because it was a really emotional song.
I was really crying because I wanted to be the frog with the solo.
I would go on to revel in other middle school triumphs, like being Prime Minister in our mock parliament session and overhearing a guy in my class rank me as third most attractive. But I will always remember not being “that frog.”
The “Fear of Not Being Amazing” goes something like this: you “would rather not try something than try and be seen as not amazing at it” (see Renegotiating Faith report). It’s a fear of rejection. You might not measure up to someone else’s or even your own standard, so you shouldn’t try. You can’t fail if you don’t try!
I feel this fear when I am making a new friend. Everything I said or did is on repeat in my brain for days: was I likeable enough?
I feel it when I keep putting off that application for a program I really want to do: what if I don’t get accepted?
I feel it when I wish I could play guitar, but every time I practise, my fingers hurt and I get discouraged: will I ever be a rock star?
The problem is, we need to make friends, go to school, and try new things. So then, how do I find freedom from needing to be amazing?
How does Jesus meet me in these moments of fearing rejection?
Jesus is God––and God is amazing! There is no one like God. This is just a sampling:
- He spoke and everything came into being.
- He does everything he wants to.
- God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
- He is the only one worthy of worship.
- God is perfect love: “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).
When I remember who God is, I am meant to be blown away in awe and wonder. The ongoing work of remembering and recognizing God as God and me as human, is to live in humility.
Hannah Anderson summarizes the idea of humility by saying,
What humility really is, for us as human beings, is recognizing that we’re not God. It is giving honor and attributing glory to God that He deserves, and recognizing that we, while we’re made to reflect His nature, we are limited human beings…A humble person knows, understands and lives in this truth, “You’re not God.” That truth is also freeing; it frees us to rest in God Himself, rather than our incompetencies.
When I try to build up a little kingdom, with accomplishments and reasons why people should love me, in the end it enslaves me. I’ll always need to achieve, always long for better.
We were actually made to long for perfection; we were made to worship God. When I put God in his right place, it frees me from fearing rejection. People need God’s kingdom, not mine.
I can never be “that god” myself.
Because I now am in Christ, I am a new creation. As a new creation I am becoming more like this amazing God as I behold his glory.
I don’t have to fear being not amazing because I am already like Jesus––in the eyes of God. Jesus trades his perfect record for my own and nails my imperfect record to the cross, cancelling my guilt and shame.
I am free to try because I can’t ultimately fail. My eternity is secure in the person of Jesus and his accomplished work on the cross. So, as my favourite teacher would say, I can “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.”
To be clear though, the process will probably be just that: messy. It takes courage to be human and to be honest with ourselves and others who we really are.
Becoming like Jesus is a slow, often painful work. We make mistakes and repent. We learn and we grow. It often doesn’t feel amazing to uproot idols, let go of sin, tear down our little kingdoms, and give God lordship over each and every part of our lives.
The call to follow Jesus means that I let go of my own sense of what my life should be all about. I die to myself. I surrender my will, my expectations, and desires for my life to God’s will for my life.
If my life is not my own, then I must recognize that I’m called to a life of humble obedience to a master.
If that sounds unappealing, it’s only because I have forgotten that I am always a servant of something, always becoming like the idol to which I bow (Psalm 115).
A pastor at my church recently quoted David Foster Wallace:
There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship . . .
If you worship money and things . . . then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough . . .
Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly . . .
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid . . .
Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.
Worshipping God puts us in a place of submission, but that’s not a bad thing. The God who loves you is calling you in kindness to what he has uniquely crafted you for and what will best draw you to himself.
Hannah Anderson clarifies this difference between being “amazing” and being who God has made us uniquely to be:
He has sovereignly ordained that we would be certain shapes and sizes, and even if those shapes and sizes don’t match what culture is telling us we should be, humility draws us back to hear His voice and His voice alone. To know that in the embrace of Christ, there is love and power and care that has uniquely crafted us the way He intends for us to be, to fulfill His purposes, not to fulfill the purposes of society.
Following God may lead you to become a Broadway sensation or Prime Minister, but more likely, it will lead you into the everyday life of faithful surrender to himself. The world tells you you have to be amazing to have any legacy, but Jesus’ invitation is to come and die to yourself each day, looking ahead to the glory that awaits and how amazing all of eternity will be.
I can be sure that life will not be easy, so I will remember what’s true and face my fears.
In Jesus I don’t need to accomplish the most or be the best looking.
I don’t need to be “that frog.”
I am already loved.
Read more: Loved even when unlovable