Once in a while someone will compliment me about something I write. Sure, it feels good when it happens. Sometimes following the kind words, however, they make a statement that implies that I am doing something they cannot. They aren’t writers, they tell me, which obviously means that somehow I am. I hear this from people about math as well. “I’m just not good with numbers.” And it doesn’t stop there, “I can’t give a good speech,” or “I’m just naturally shy, there’s nothing I can do about it.” This list of inadequacies most of us feel is seemingly endless.

To me, probably the best tip on writing I can give (and this applies to other activities as well) is be honest and be brave. Don’t let the critics drag you down, especially the one in your own head. Beyond this, recently I have found a helpful method which is to read back out loud to myself what I have written. I’m trying to make this a personal habit. Nothing gets published I haven’t sat and read out loud to myself over and over until I think it sounds like me. It’s an extra step, it takes more time and it’s worth it. (Obviously this out-loud-reading part is best accomplished in a quiet room by yourself).

To the bigger point about not being good at things. Be careful not to make agreements with negative messages in your mind. In other words, if we believe we are limited and worthless, we can be sure these messages are not coming from God. Our problem is that we are susceptible to what others tell us – or have told us in the past. Whenever we make agreements internally with these messages, they become personal core beliefs. And when I say core, I mean that these are heartfelt. They affect both our thoughts and our emotions. They stimulate us to action or deflate us to despairing zombies. Before we ever see physical doors of opportunity open and close in front of us, we can be sure these core beliefs have been opening and closing doors within us. They empower us to try or discourage us so we won’t.

If you are convinced you are not good at something and wish you were, my advice is to talk to somebody who you know cares about you and has your best interest at heart. Listen to their words of encouragement. Take their advice. In the mean time permit me to speak this truth into you. You are worth it. You have amazing gifts you don’t yet even know about. Be honest and brave and ask God and others for help. Don’t hide and wallow. Step out into this bright new day knowing you’re not alone. There is a cloud of witnesses you do not yet see.