Do you live in fear that other people will discover the real you?
If that happened—if other people found out—would you lose your job, your spouse,
friends, and, in the words of Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live, “die homeless,
penniless and twenty pounds overweight?”
For those who already feel below average and believe that their grades, jobs or
reputations prove it, there is no reason to feel like a fraud because the news is
already out. There is nothing to hide. But, for those who have received accolades
from others, the norm is that they feel hopelessly undeserving, like an incompetent
child. They hope that the charade of success will last, but suspect it won’t.
So you either feel like a failure and you think everyone knows you are, or you feel
like a failure and you wonder when everyone will know. There seem to be no other
You have to love this universal human experience. For all the silly bravado and
endless methods to enhance self-esteem, we all feel like failures at heart. So, we can
all take a deep breath and relax—we are not alone. And we can wonder: why is it
that we all feel this way?
We are small and insignificant
There are seven billion people on this planet. We are replaceable. No one is
indispensable. No matter how big a splash we make in our own local pond, the
ripples will only last a minute or two. We really are small and insignificant.
The first house my wife and I bought had a nice little white fence that ran along a
walkway. When we first saw it we both thought it was charming but almost beyond
salvaging. But salvage it we did. And we thought Better Homes and Gardens would
come knocking. The fence was lovely, and, along with it, we essentially re-did every
inch of that house.
Two years later, we sold the house and bought one across the street. We could
still see the fence, which, of course, was our unique and lasting contribution to
worldwide beauty. But within twenty-four hours of the sale, the fence was in the
A postscript. The old house went through a few owners. A couple years ago we
mentioned to the present owners that we once owned the place and they invited us
to look around. There was not one piece of evidence that we had existed. The house
is a perfect reminder that our labors are small and insignificant, though I probably
don’t need the extra reminder. And there is more.
We are failures
Yes, on top of being small and insignificant, we are failures. Take any standard:
Mom’s hopes and dreams for you, your boss’s expectations, world records, batting
averages, your income or God’s standards. We fail at them all. Some of us hold out
hopes that life is graded on a curve, but those who see themselves accurately know
that they will fail then too.
Our falling short of God’s standards is the most far-reaching and palpable failure
that human beings experience. It is also the one we sense the least. Hiding behind all
other failures, this is the granddaddy of them all. We are failures before God. We are
God’s offspring who were intended for greatness and we seem to ruin everything we
There are plenty of ways to go, but consider just resting here for a while. Enjoy it.
You are a failure, so am I, so is the person whose easy success you envy. Human
beings are small and insignificant; human beings are also failures. Go ahead. Admit it
and take a break from covering yourself with your fraudulent resume. This is called
weakness, and it is critical to the abundant life. You cannot really appreciate grace
Then be amazed…
What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? (Ps. 8:4)