Note to Self, You’re Not Too Much.

December 19, 2019

Dear self, You’ve been told for as long as you can remember (literally) that you’re too much. You’re not even sure what that means but you know it’s not kind. You know it means that in your fullest iteration, you are not accepted. A diluted, sanitized, smaller, quieter version of you is more desirable, even more Christ-like. Maybe.

Is it even possible that the way you are is exactly the way you were made to be? That you bring pleasure to your Father, that your whimsy reflects any semblance of divine creativity, that imagination is your super power?

The very notion of too-muchness decides that this couldn’t possibly be what God had in mind when He knit you together—that you were the one that got out of hand, and He shrugged it off—He shrugged you off?

Did you ever imagine these would be the questions you would be left with when you ever so carefully tried to tell yourself, seemingly gently, that you’re just a little much?

Because I know you didn’t mean for that to happen. You didn’t mean to cause yourself to doubt your very nature. You just wonder if there’s a more refined version of yourself that could show up so that others could feel more comfortable. You just wonder if all of “this” is necessary. And you wonder why God would knit all of this into one frame and then ask you to contend with yourself and those who don’t prefer you for the duration of your days.

Would they believe you if you told them you do think before you speak? That all you do is think and what others get is the much processed, overthought effort to not offend them? Yet here we are. You are bursting with all of the things, all of the time and need to know where it’s safe to put them. So when you choose someone, you also choose to trust them. Often against your better judgment. Because you don’t trust anyone.

So I want you to trust God with you, instead.

I want you to trust that He knows you and sees you and made you and that you bring him delight, even in your muchness.

That, when He knit you together, He didn’t get his needles crossed, but rather used a different colour strand for you than others. You don’t need others to like the colour, you just need them to let you have it. It was never going to be beige for you—He knew you couldn’t handle beige (others handle it really well). Is it possible that Andrew Lloyd Weber was onto something when he named Joseph’s coat a technicolour dream? Imagine living inside a technicolour dream all the time. That’s where you live.

I want you to trust that you are obedient to God, even when it looks like a circus sideshow.

I want you to trust that you are so tenaciously obedient that you just didn’t think to stop and ask permission or check with others. And, while God gave us others for confirmation and direction and community, you forget sometimes. You forget the contribution you were made to make and get so excited about what He’s shown you that you just want everyone else to see it too. And they might. But they likely won’t—not the way you do. Because technicolour. Because all the colours. Because others see, hear and experience His generosity, kindness and goodness differently than you do and that is a very good thing.

I want you to trust that God gives us different pieces of the puzzle for a reason.

And while you often see windows where others may see walls, it doesn’t mean that we don’t need both. Or that your windows need curtains or their walls need to be torn down. We need each other. Even when you’re too much.

The problem with being “too much” is that you wouldn’t know what to subtract.

You spend much of your time imagining what others need less of, and so you self-edit accordingly. Only to be accused of being disingenuous. Or you try to bite your tongue and then the pain of it shows up on your face and they know you’re not okay. And you never want them to even think you’re not okay. You’re okay. You’ll be okay. Really.

They think you can’t possibly be self-aware because would you really be like this if you were? The truth is, you’re incredibly aware of what happens when you enter a room, open your mouth, look in someone’s direction. You know your impact. You know your size. You know stuff.

You also know your worth. And what others think of it is not only none of your business, it is not impacted by their opinion. But all of this generates great fear. And I no longer choose to be afraid. Not of them. Not of my too muchness. Not of God’s potential disappointment in all of it.

Don’t get it wrong: you want people to like you, you just don’t need them to. You genuinely spend your days measuring yourself against whether or not a confetti cannon might have gone off in Heaven or if the Father is weeping because of, or with, you (there’s likely also something in between). You so desperately want to bring pleasure to your Creator every day. There is little else that motivates you, but that—THAT—lights you on fire from the inside out. Because what if there are confetti cannons in Heaven?

You will offend others, so you can say sorry now. But they will offend you too, and may not know that it’s in your quiet nod, pursed lips or raised eyebrow. It will be in the thing they don’t say or don’t do, or in their intimidation that they retreat, and you will be sad and feel lonely without them.

You will ask hard questions and likely be inappropriate. You’ll say the hard thing that others are thinking but saying when they leave the room.

You will stay up until they forgive you and you will forgive them before they even ask.

You will love them hard and celebrate them even when they’re not sure why.

You will hold their arms up in worship when they’ve lost they’re way or grown weary.

You will run hard and point them to Jesus, reminding them that He’s out in front, calling their name.

You will pray hard and expect God to show up. And He will. Because He’s God and He shows up.

I want you to trust that this muchness will point back to God’s glory and a deep-rooted belief that He is with you, in you, and leading you.

He will not forsake you or leave you. He will cheer you on when others can’t, and His plan is for you. So as you Phoebe-run after the Gospel with all the tinsel, glitter and donuts, everyone is invited, whether they can handle it or not. That isn’t a caveat for participation; just fair warning.

Because “too much” is a big rock. And it just needs to move out of the way now. It just needs to go and you need to be done with it. Because Jesus has told you over and over: It is better to tie a big rock around your neck and toss yourself into the depths of the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. And you know what? Even you’re tripping on it at this point, never mind the little ones who are trusting that they are fabulous in their muchness because you told them God made them so.

So I’ve had enough. You are not too much. You are exactly enough, daughter of the Most High Priest.

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  1. Karen Penner says:

    Your “ muchness” in so many ways challenged your mother. When she thought your dramatically loud voice would offend others, she prayed, “Please God use this voice for your glory.” I pictured my little girl as a singer, a dramatist, a strong leader, but never did it occur to me that you would preach. You always rejected my suggestion that you become a teacher. And yet here you are.
    God knew exactly the journey you would take in order for your creator to use your much talent and voice. Your writing has never failed you and you’ve written from the bottom of your dedicated heart.
    I picture you at eleven sitting in big people church and taking notes or sitting with adults in a breakout session at a conference.
    You were knit well and you took the path you needed to. Press on Dear One to the calling of Christ.