New content from Anne Watson for God Dots about connecting God to Your Everyday Life. Topics include loving , feeling unholy sometimes, and being badass for Jesus. 

The Curse of the Capable

I am the oldest of two kids in my family. While growing up, it was hard not to notice that my mom seemed to spend all of her time helping my younger brother. To be fair, he needed more help than I did but it was sometimes hurtful that I didn’t get the same level of attention. It kind of forced me to become independent. When I was an adult, married with kids, I asked my mom why there was such a disparity in my youth and her response was, “You didn’t need any help. You were perfectly capable.” 

Now I call it the curse of the capable. Because you don’t need help, you won’t get any. 

I’ve seen this curse play out a dozen different ways since then. For example, my husband and I are both independent people, and while we love to be together, we don’t always need each other. That can be good sometimes because I don’t have to wait until the weekend change a smoke detector battery or kill a spider. It can be a bad thing, however, because it’s easy for independent people to grow apart. We have to be careful about noticing when we’ve drifted and come back together. 

I have also seen the curse among women. I am a natural born encourager. I use phrases like, ‘to die for,’ or ‘phenomenal’ when I’m cheering for you. I’m the friend that will literally jump up and down screaming when you share good news. I like to think I’m the ‘there for you’ friend in good times and bad. The problem I have seen is that as a natural encourager, it’s often hard to find encouragement for myself. 

On the outside, it can appear as if I am confident and capable, therefore I don’t need anyone to build me up. Inside though, I am still the little girl thirsting for comfort in an arid desert. I have come a long way in this area. I found Jesus later in life and knowing I have his never waning encouragement is the most phenomenal comfort of all. But I have to admit that I still think it’s nice to get some affirmation from friends, family, and community. 

If you are independent or competent, you may be under the curse of the capable. Maybe you are an encourager that needs to be affirmed or a mom who could use a reminder that she’s a good one. Perhaps you are a leader who would love some help but feels bad asking for it because you ‘should’ have it under control. Take heart, friend. As someone under the curse myself, I see you. I think you are doing a great job! 

I want to invite you today to take a minute and think about someone in your life that could use a little boost. Even if that person seems like they have it all together, a quick note or message from you may be what she needs most. When we take the time to pour into others, the curse breaks and being capable becomes a blessing.

How To Stop Being So Sensitive

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I’ll never forget what my mom once said to me as a kid after another epic fight with my brother. “I don’t know who I am madder at…him for what he did or you for your reaction!” 

For the record, my brother didn’t get in trouble for whatever it was he did, but I walked away with two distinct pieces of information.

1) There was no justice and, 2) my emotions get me in trouble.

Throughout my life I would absorb messages like:

  • You’re too sensitive.
  • You’re too dramatic.
  • No one likes unhappy people.
  • Why can’t you just get over it?
  • Because you are emotional, I don’t want you.
  • Because you are emotional, I can and will pick on you.
  • You are easy to ignore.
  • You are hard to love.

As if my feelings rooting around inside me weren’t uncomfortable enough, my external world told me my feelings made others uncomfortable, too. Maybe people thought telling me would make me respond something like, “Oh my gosh! I am so sorry I made you experience emotion, too. These darn feelings of mine keep getting out but don’t worry. I’ll stuff them way down inside, so you can start liking me.”

I never said those things out loud, but I repeated them in my head. I’ve spent the better part of my life treating myself like there is something profoundly wrong with me. We live in a world that rewards toughness, so I tried to be tough and I would succeed just enough to make me feel like my striving was working. I would think that if I could only strive more, work harder, stuff deeper, then I would finally experience love and friendship. You know what happened next, right? Epic failure. 

I don’t understand why or how sensitive, tender, emotional people became the villains of so many stories. Somehow, these qualities became synonymous with weakness, but the more I think about it, the more I think we’re just perceptive and passionate.

It’s the feelers of feelings that are the most in tune when something is wrong and are then in the best position to warn others. It’s the emotional of us whose hearts break for what breaks God’s heart and offer help when needed. We both sound the alarms and ring the bells of hope. 

Think about it. Every single hero in every movie you love is motivated to help others from a place of caring! They are the brave, fearless, and totally hot! When they get knocked down, they get back up. When they get discouraged, they motivate each other. And when they are facing certain doom, they hold tightly to their faith that in the end, everything will be okay. 

I am sensitive, emotional, and proud to be a passionate about all the feelings! 

I have to believe that every human created by God has an emotional side, but some are better at hiding it. Maybe they are worried that if sensitive people become heroes, no one will need them. I’m not sure. I should probably say I am all about grace for them because I, too, was misunderstood, but that might be disingenuous. There’s a tiny part of me that would like to watch them eat a big bucket of crow for dinner. (I am confident you would never do this because you are a kind soul.) They can have grace for dessert. 

I’ve come to discover that sensitive people, especially women, are some of the strongest people I know. There is nothing weak about us. I think we’re kind of cool. (High fives all around.) 

The only thing I needed to stop being sensitive about what how sensitive I am.

I am learning to love and respect my feelings, even when they go all Tasmanian devil on me. I’m a work in progress because there is a lot of toxic thinking to undo, but I have never felt freer. 

How about you?

I Just Want Someone to be Proud of Me

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We All Need Encouragement Every Now and Then

I love to tell people how proud I am of them. Even if I don’t know them particularly well, I can see when they are working hard toward a goal, and I want them to know someone noticed and had warm feelings about their effort. I think I do it because more than anything, I want someone to be proud of me, too.

I grew up in the time of disco music, and I was obsessed with the group Abba. I would play those vinyl records over and over until I had memorized every line. Often, I would get on the brick hearth in front of our fireplace and pretend it was a stage while I belted out, “Take A Chance on Me” like I was a Super Trouper. I was probably six or seven years old at the time and I remember my dad watching me with a look on his face that I knew meant he was proud of me. 

When someone is proud of you, it’s like getting a heaping dose of strength and fearlessness. You feel as if you can do anything and never fail. I’m pretty sure the next time my parents had a dinner party, I slipped in, turned on Abba and hit the stage like a winner. 

Lately, I’ve been thinking that being proud of someone has become a lost art. When was the last time someone expressed genuine joy toward you after you accomplished something? How did you feel? When was the last time you told someone you love how proud you are of them? NOTE: Kids don’t count. They’re a gimmie.

Sometimes I feel like I’m looking for crack or something and that it’s some shady deal in a back alley to get a little affirmation. I don’t want to sound like a whiner, but positive messages seem scarce to me.  Maybe it’s because we feel like we are competing against one another and when someone else does well, there’s less success available to us. As if having joy in someone else’s achievement costs us something. Maybe it’s just that our lives are busy, and we are distracted. 

My guess is that if you think about it for a while, you’ll come up with some people in your life that would rather put you down than build you up. The rungs of the ladder they are climbing are made of you and me. They’ll step on us to get to the top because they’ve told themselves it’s the only way to feel like they matter. I hate to admit that I know this because I’ve done this.

The thing is, when I put people down, I feel gross. But when I build them up, I get the same feeling of strength and fearlessness that I did when I knew my dad was proud of me. Building someone up is as good for my soul as getting words of affirmation. 

When encouragement is lacking toward me, I fill up by encouraging the people around me. 

My goal is not to let a day go by that I don’t gush to someone about how great I think they are doing. I will squeal with delight (literally) at your good news because I am genuinely excited for you. Your hard work is paying off! I don’t worry anymore that your success somehow threatens mine. 

And on the days when I need some of that for myself and it’s hard to come by, I tell myself kindly and gently (the only way anyone should talk to themselves) that even if no one else sees, my ever-patient savior is watching and he’s feeling all the feelings for me. I imagine a voice coming down from heaven: “You are my [daughter], whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)

God is well pleased with you, too, friend. Doesn’t that make you feel like you can fly?