Who Are You Listening To?

My mother begged me, “Why won’t you let me teach you?” I had heard this a million times, yet I was never able to form a decent answer.

I could only respond with the tears in my eyes, feeling the full wait of my shame for being afraid to fail at something I hadn’t even tried yet.

I’ve always wanted to know the subject before taking the class. I want to know how to put the table together before reading the instruction manual; the perfect body before hitting the gym type deal. If I don’t know something before I even learn it, I feel like a failure.

It is a paradoxical loop of avoiding the inevitable stumbles and mistakes that are included in learning.

First, it was math. I cried every day until my mother gave up.

Then, it was piano. I desperately wanted to play but couldn’t stand to hear myself play the wrong note or feel the unfamiliar stretch of keys underneath my fingertips.

Next time mom asks, “Have you been practicing like I asked you to?”

I turn away to avoid the weight of disappointment I see in her eyes; this is my answer to her.

How can I explain? I never practiced because I couldn’t stand to watch myself not be good at something. I couldn’t stand to see the seasons which must pass between the unsown soil and the perfectly cultivated garden.

The internal dialogue of my life has overruled my desire to learn since I was a child.

My childhood self was riddled with anxiety and isolation; I never knew it is not normal for everyone to have what I found out is my inner critic.

I call it the monger.

It would whisper in my ear, “You don’t know how to do this. Everyone will watch you fail.” I listened, and shied away from any task which required risk. You see, the monger is a hypocrite; after I listened to it’s lies, it shamed me again, “You didn’t do it, now you’ve let everyone down.”

My 8-year-old self would say, “I know. I’m sorry I am not better.”

Every lie whispered into my mind went straight to my heart and broke whatever self-worth I had worked to build up since the last time it was torn down. I could not see past the fear of my failure to the truths of God’s grace which were so beautifully laid out before me.

The lesson I have learned in my journey of becoming the girl I am now: Everything takes cultivation. When we skip the excruciating pain of practice, there is no success. Growing pains are the only way to get taller.

This brings me to acknowledge that there is something lacking in the societal idea that we can achieve greatness in the span of earthly time it takes to snap our fingers together. Nothing is so simple as this, and why would it be, when God so diligently sewed our world together with intricate threads spun by the Heavens. Our Creator’s detail lends itself to the nature of process. I must always come back to the thought. If the God above all took 7 days of Heavenly time to bring us into being, shouldn’t our process take much more, as we are undeniably incapable of meeting His level of perfection?

I remind myself every day to believe in the process of cultivation in my life. I cannot wish for beautiful roses to appear in my garden if I do not first tend to the dirt, sow the seeds, and water them daily. I cannot become the leader I aspire to be without first experiencing trial and error. By letting others down, I learned to pick up the pieces and build something better.

Every day, we are becoming. Never to be fully grown until we are raised to life outside of our grounded bodies. In life there is no reaching perfection, only constant cultivation, but the process, regardless of how much we may fear it or loathe it or hide from it, is wholly worth our effort.

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