On Sunday morning, I had the pleasure of reading the transcript from an interview with Jasmine Star. I wish I could recall the link because it was truly inspiring. Jasmine Star is an incredible business woman. She dropped out of law school to become a wedding photographer and is now one of the most highly sought, exclusive wedding photographers in the world. One particular phase from the interview really struck me. “Impostor Complex”.
I’ve never heard that phrase before. From the context of the interview, I understood what was implied, but when I was done reading, I looked up “Impostor Complex” on Google. The results were actually “Impostor Syndrome” or “Impostor Phenomenon”. Since it isn’t technically a clinical diagnosis, I have yet to find a clear definition of what it is exactly. I can tell you this though, the hypochondriac in me knows I have it.
Well here it is now Monday evening… so late that it is nearly Tuesday morning, and I can’t forget that phrase. What’s even more bizarre is that a “trending now” video posted today on YouTube is “The Impostor Syndrome”. (Not linking because of the cussing/vulgarity in the video… you can search for it if you so desire). What I labeled in myself as self-doubt/anxiety certainly falls into this category and I felt a huge sense of relief discovering that thousands of other people feel the same way.
“What if I get caught not being good enough?!”
It is a paralyzing thought.
What if I fail? What if I don’t meet my bosses expectations? What if my spouse finds out how much I spend? What if someone in my class asks a question that I don’t know the answer?
They will find out that I have been lying all along… and they’ll reject me.
There it is… the bottom line… a fear of rejection.
It appears as though this is a rather hot topic lately. There are several blog posts about overcoming this feeling that you couldn’t possibly be as good as you actually are. While I honestly feel like I am the least qualified person on this planet to present a different view of the impostor complex, I am going to make a meager attempt to do so. (Please don’t say hurtful things in the comments or I will become a hermit never to be seen or heard from again because I seriously do fear rejection… more on that later).
We all have a worldview. It is the lens through which we define everything… how we judge the things going on around us. Never is this more apparent than during an election year on social media. My particular worldview is based primarily on my minuscule knowledge of the Word of God. I just wanted to acknowledge that first and foremost. I realize that we all don’t share the same worldview.
Why do we have an ingrained fear of rejection? It’s been said that it is human nature to feel this way. But why? I feel that it is the Lord’s way of drawing us to Him. That ache we feel in the pit of our heart is nothing more than the desire to be accepted by our Creator God. Our Father. I’ve often pondered “why did God create us?” He knew what a mess we would make and made us anyway. God in His magnificent love created us to reciprocate His love. I was reminded of this simple fact today with a verse a child can memorize and remember for the rest of their life: “We love because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19. Listen to this… I hope it makes your spirit soar like it does mine… “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will,…” Ephesians 1:3-5
He created us just to adopt us into His family. Isn’t that awesome?! But then we go back and read the words “to be holy and blameless in His presence”… the weight of that unreachable standard hits you like a ton of bricks. The Bible reiterates that again and again. A popular verse to drive home that point is Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” We fall short. No matter how hard we try, of our own accord we will never be good enough to be in the presence of God.
So where does that leave us? Read Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death,”…. Did you catch that? That is the ultimate of ultimate rejections… “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ding ding ding!!! Where do I sign up?! FREE GIFT! Free. Let that stew in your brain for a minute… took me longer than a minute. Took me years. Free. You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. It’s given to you. Means you can’t get rid of it either.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
God’s plan to solve our lack of being good enough was to send His perfect Son, born of a virgin and free of any sin, as a blood atonement for our sins so that we might also come into the presence of our Almighty God as His child.
So then why do we still struggle with impostor complex as born-again believers? It’s still a sin issue (not that a popular video on YouTube is going to tell you that though). It’s pride. It’s basically making a god of the people we seek to impress. The Impostor Syndrome is fear and the Bible tells us in 1 John 4:18 that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” Therefore, the remedy to overcome impostor phenomena is to boldly and honestly proclaim the mercy and grace that has been lavished on us… perfect love. The more that we deflect ANY glory coming our way toward God… the One who deserves all praise… the more we won’t feel like frauds any longer.
Personal story: Not quite 5 years ago, I tried to commit suicide. I had allowed myself to wallow in certain sins that did nothing more than create a festering cesspool of “stinking thinking”. I spent time in jail and time in a mental hospital. I learned a lot about myself. I came to terms with my past… finally. After my prodigal ways, the place I felt most awkward going to was church… until I began to humble myself to allow God to use my experience to reach someone else going through a hard time. I’m no longer bitter about my past because God is so much bigger than any of it. Chronic illness. Divorce. Depression/Anxiety. Abuse of any kind. Church became my refuge… my place for healing… after I let my guard down but more importantly after other church members let their guard down. We need to understand that churches are full of hurting people.
Do I still feel inadequate? You bet! Do I know without a doubt that God is more than adequate to make up the difference? Absolutely… or I wouldn’t have hit the publish button on this post and you wouldn’t be reading this right now. Does rejection still sting? Of course! But even more so, imagine the pain of rejection our Creator feels when we take the glory for something He has done. I am breathing right now because God is my healer. The food on my table is because God provides. My children are here only because God has entrusted me with the task to guide and disciple them in Christ.
So next time you feel “I don’t deserve this.” when God blesses you, praise Him for it. Next time you feel “I can’t do this. I’m an impostor.” Admit to God your need for Him and rely on Him for strength to move forward and give Him all the glory when you have accomplished what He set before you. Just be honest with people and the next time you are rejected, please remember God choose you. Claim your inheritance as a child of the King. He loves you. Seek the approval of God… not others… all the time.
Still learning this one myself.