For years, my parents have shared the story of the first Christmas pageant I participated in. According to them, the Wonderland Preschool Christmas Program should have been called The Amber Show. I sang all the solos, danced all the dances, and had all the speaking parts.
In kindergarten I was always in trouble for two things:
- Reading entire books to the class every time it was my turn during show and tell.
- Writing in cursive.
I was put into GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) early in elementary school.
Growing up, I got the lead in every school play I tried out for and every solo I auditioned for.
As a child I believed I could have anything I wanted, and that I could achieve anything I set my mind to.
But in high school, things started to unravel for me. Suddenly, there were things that didn’t come easily to me. There were moments when I wasn’t number one.
It was hard to come to grips with, and I’ve struggled with it ever since.
Recently I heard a message by one of the pastors at my church. In it he said, “You are not what you produce.”
It hit me hard.
I am not what I produce.
I am not my books. I am not my songs. I am not my voice. I am not my talent. I am not measured by my success.
In some ways this is so freeing. In other ways it’s incredibly difficult.
When my parents tell the story of my preschool pageant, I hear the pride in their voice. I know that my family has always been proud of the fact that I talked at an early age, read at an early age, tested at a higher grade level than I was in. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
What was wrong was my need to always be on top. My need to always please everyone. My need to be seen. To be heard. To be in the spotlight.
To be number one.
It’s set me on a path of constantly comparing myself to others, and constantly searching for approval.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that the last five years have been rough for me emotionally and physically. I won’t bore you with the details since I’ve blogged about it so much in the past. You probably already know that my mantra for the last several years has been, “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”
I began 2017 praying for breakthrough in the area of fear and anxiety. After several years of being sick, I had experienced major physical breakthrough in 2016, but I was still dealing with some of the after-effects emotionally.
God answered my prayers: In the past six months I’ve only had a few panic attacks. After having daily ones for years, this is huge. Fear doesn’t plague me the way it once had. I’m not a slave to it any longer. I know this for sure. That’s not to say that I don’t deal with it sometimes or that I’ll never deal with it again. But I’ve experienced major breakthrough, and it no longer has me bound.
So I’m starting 2018 asking for breakthrough in the area of identity. I want to truly believe that I am not what I produce. That I am not measured by my talent and success. That I don’t have to prove myself. That I don’t have to be the most talented or smartest or richest.
That I don’t have to be number one.
Of course I will keep working hard. I will keep reaching for the stars.
But above all I will seek God.
Years ago, God directed me to this verse: