by Marcia Lee Laycock @MarciaLaycock
Dealing with the Impostor Syndrome
Neil Gaiman once attended a gathering of some very important people. “I felt that at any moment they would realize that I didn’t qualify to be there,” he said. Later he chatted with another Neil who felt the same. “They’ve made amazing things,” he said. “I just went where I was sent. Mr. Gaiman replied, “Yes, but you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”
Many writers, and I include myself in that number, feel this way at some point – inadequate, even hypocritical. We know the struggle we’ve had to get to the place where we can call ourselves writers. We know there are many who have accomplished more, writers we would consider far beyond our level, and we sometimes feel that even our best work just isn’t good enough. I think this is the same ‘syndrome’ that hits people who are applauded for doing some kind of heroic act. Often their first thought, their first words, are, “I’m no hero.”
This can be a serious barrier to creativity. It is the same barrier that blocks many believers in Christ. We are taught that we are dust, that we are sinful, that we just don’t measure up to the holiness of Christ. All true, but we are also called children of God (John 1:12), a holy people (Colossians 1:12) and priests of the kingdom (1 Peter 2:9). The dichotomy is sometimes hard to sort out.
My husband once addressed this in one of his sermons dealing with positional sanctification and experiential sanctification – we live in the world and therefore live with our failings and our sin, but in the moment we accept Christ as our Saviour we receive the Spirit of God and are made holy and yes, perfect in Him. “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). Experientially, we don’t live in perfection. But positionally we are “perfect … as (our) heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
It is important as believers and as writers of faith that we understand the difference and live our lives in that balance, with humility and grace. Someone once said that humility is confidence properly placed. Confidence comes from knowing who we truly are as sons and daughters of our Father. It is properly placed when we recognize who He truly is.
Believing we and the work we do has value because of our connection to Christ releases us from all the uncertainties and false humility that keep us from doing the work we are called to do. In Christ, we are released to do God’s work for God’s kingdom.
Satan’s scheme is to keep whispering that we aren’t good enough. When we hear that sibilant voice, we would do well to swat it away and remember the truth: God values us and what we do. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.
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