Recently I recalled a memory from a few years ago, one where I sat in a booth with five girlfriends at the Cheesecake Factory. As I chatted with my people, I scanned the menu up and down, asking myself what I should order. My rumbly stomach answered that basically, every offering sounded fantastic. When it came time to place my order, I still hesitated with indecision. Looking up at the waiter, I apologized for taking so long. And then once I did spell out my order for Chinese chicken salad, I quickly changed my mind and said, “Oh wait! I’m so sorry, but I’ll have the fish tacos after all!” I proceeded to apologized again for being so difficult.
The waiter tapped his pencil on his pad, eyed my group of friends collectively and said, “Does she always apologize this much?”
As if they had rehearsed it, my friends responded in a uniform chorus, “Yeeees.”
Guess what I did next? Ya, I apologized again for apologizing.
Gah, sometimes I get on my own nerves somethin’ fierce.
I have a few theories that explain this part of my personality, but they all seem to fall under one lie that in my mind has twirled into truth: In one way or another, I don’t have a right to exist in this world.
Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about having thoughts of ending my life or anything along those lines. I’ve never believed I shouldn’t be alive. Rather, I’ve believed I’m somehow mistaken when I come across too big in my alive-ness. I’m wrong to take up space and in doing so, I’m in the way of all the other people taking up space next to me. So if I do something that puts me out there in a bigger, more present level–like taking extra time to make a decision or changing my mind about that decision–I apologize for it.
This manifests itself in other ways too, like apologizing to the friend I call or text to ask a question–or God forbid–for real deal help. I apologize for taking too long to pay for groceries at the commissary. All in all, I apologize for being someone who walks and moves and thinks and holds opinions and needs help.
Crazy, I know.
“God gave you a name and a place in this world and he is calling you back to his love each and every day. He is inviting us to unlearn the muted versions of ourselves that we put out into the world and to return to his fully saturated love, our fully saturated selves.” Leeana Tankersley, Brazen
It seems all my apologizing is my attempt to show a more muted version of myself, and it’s going to take some major unlearning to stop begging forgiveness for simply taking up space.
I wonder if you have struggled with the same thing? If like me, one way you attempt to mute your existence is by over-apologizing? Listen friend, you and I need to understand and remember that I’m sorry should be saved for situations that warrant repentance. It should be used in circumstances where we’ve hurt someone and need forgiveness. It should not be used because we believe we’re intrinsically sorry or no good.
We are not dingbats or dead weight here on this planet.
Still, I know myself well enough to know I won’t be able to quit apologizing cold turkey. But I think a good place to start is to intentionally listen to God’s affirmation in the moment rather than the enemy’s accusations.
God made me and you not to be hidden, put away, or to feel like our existence constantly puts others out. You are here on purpose and for a purpose. Just as his hot pink sunsets show up each and every day, he wants you to brazenly show up in your circles, your community and in your life. You are allowed to do your thing the way he’s created you to for as long as he asks and you need. I am too. So:
- I get to change my mind about an order.
- I am no less okay because I ask questions when I need help.
- I have the right to take a little extra time at the check out line because of my coupons.
We get to be here big, bold, and brazen. Not in an obnoxious way, but in a living-how-God-created-us way.
And may we never apologize for that.
For quite some time I’ve been thinking about this whole notion of over-apologizing, and Brazen: The Courage to Find the You That’s Been Hiding is the first book that has ever spoke so directly to my heart on the topic. In a variety of ways, I connected with this book by Leeana Tankersley as I’ve connected with few others. No matter how itchy or not-enough you feel in your own skin, Leeana is the friend who will make you comfortable with coming out of hiding. I loved this book so much that I endorsed it, and I highly recommend it to you. Find Brazen wherever books are sold.
Michelle Vasquez says
I got uncomfortable just reading some of your post! Just the thought of not hiding, makes me want to go hide! LOL! This one is going on my wish list for sure! Thank you!
Oh my Michelle, it makes me squirm too.
Cheryl Clanahan says
Love you! Also, this past year I have really focused on not asking my daughter to “take it down a notch” when she’s animated and boisterous (sometimes I’m either not in the mood for her volume, or it’s in a place that may be crowded). I realized that she was completely comfortable in her own skin, using everything God had purposely given her, and I was the one finding fault in it. I was picking apart God’s creation and trying to mold her into something that would most likely make her feel uncomfortable trying to achieve. Most days now, I choose to love her for exactly the young woman she is, and it’s become more freeing for both of us.
LOVE this, Cheryl. Your girl is a wonder and really, that’s no wonder given her mama. I adore you. xoxo
Beth Williams says
My husband apologizes a lot of the time. I tell him, hey just apologize when you’ve blown it. No need to constantly apologize. I love you for you!
I don’t care if you take extra time making up your mind or even change your mind. Just don’t apologize for being who God created you to be! He loves you just as you are!
Yep, I just received an email back this morning from someone telling me it wasn’t necessary to apologize. What I said didn’t warrant one. I always feel like I am bothering people. And the idea of questioning my existence and presenting a muted self, wow.
Mathew Nesbitt says
Nope. I’m not going to apologize for my existence in the world. Happy to be here…
Chris Graham says
Oh my goodness your words clearly spoke to my heart. I am on a journey to truly discovering who I am in Christ. But it has been an unraveling of lies I accepted as truth. It is both challenging and rewarding as I walk hand in hand with God by my side. Thank you so much for the post on Instagram today that linked me to your beautiful blog. The book Brazen is now on my wish list!!!
Wow this is me to a T! I’ve been working on it but it is a very difficult habit to break. The books sounds great- I’ll have to check it out. Thank you for this blog post!
Julie Joiner says
Wow! Do we have the same DNA? I have to say I have struggled with this my whole life. I am getting better, but there are times when my husband will say to me, “Stop being small.” I am not sure why I do it, but I certainly don’t like it. It would be awesome to have a little support group where we could check in, admitting we apologize for our existence, and then hold each other accountable for saving “sorry” for it’s purpose. Thanks for sharing.