At the end of 2016, I was invited to participate in Red Tent Living’s first-ever Brave On conference. What an honor! As I have looked toward Brave On, I have experienced a rising fear. I picture a gathering of breathtaking women—lively and engaging, creative and wise—and I suddenly feel afraid that I don’t belong. The enemy affirms this fear and whispers, “You have nothing to offer.” I’m tempted to agree with him and bow out. Then, in the grace of a quiet moment, God speaks loud and clear: “There’s room at the table for you.” He gives me the image of a banquet table lavishly spread, and on the place card in front of me it says, “Susan.”
This is a stark contrast to a recurring dream that I have. In the dream I am back in high school, and I’m scanning the crowded cafeteria for a place to sit. The tables are full, so I squeeze in at one already surrounded by girls. I am embarrassed, knowing that my presence is tolerated, but not welcomed. I feel anxious in the dream, and when I wake, the anxiety lingers. Though it’s just a dream, I recognize that it’s a feeling I’ve often experienced in real life, and it exposes two beliefs: “I’m too much” and “I’m not enough.”
“I’m too much” is accompanied by fear and shame, and it reveals itself like this:
“I should have stopped talking. Why didn’t I shut up? I never seem to know when I’ve said enough. Now I sounded stupid…”
“They don’t value what I offer. Maybe my ideas are bad/ridiculous/unwanted. Maybe I am just too outside-the box…”
“I’m so needy! Why do I need to be seen/reassured/praised? Other women don’t need this much care. It must just be me.”
“I’m not enough” travels with fear and anxiety, and it shows itself in my hiding and my self-doubt. It has its own soundtrack; the greatest hit is titled, “Nothing to offer.”
When these beliefs surface, I am learning to remind myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. This means that:
1.) I am not too much.
2.) I am definitely enough.
That felt so good, I want to say it again: I am not too much, and I am definitely enough. (Say it with me.)
As the redeemed daughter of the living God, my personality, passions, and talents are redeemed too. I don’t have to strive to earn my place, and I don’t have to reach for it. Instead, I simply need to show up—at home, in friendships, at church, at work, and in the world—and when I do, I can trust that I am not too much.
I am enough. Believing that takes faith; living it takes courage.
When I picture the table prepared for us at Brave On, I see a place for Karen, Leslie, and Teri. I see a place for Jinda, Beth, and Andrea. I see a place for me. The table stretches on, and there is room for all of us. I cannot read all of the names, but excitement stirs in me as I imagine all of us courageously gathering with confidence that there is room for each and every one of us.
Yes, I am welcome at the table, and so are you.
Susan Tucker spends her days mothering her two teenage sons, teaching middle school English, and savoring rare moments of quiet and solitude. She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, with her sons and her husband of 23 years. Susan finds life in a beautiful story, an authentic conversation, worship music, and ultimately, in Jesus, the giver of all good gifts.