22.7.09

Oh I Could Never Do That.

Have you ever heard this phrase? Have you ever said it?

This interview at Conversion Diary got me thinking about this again. In the interview it's mentioned that one of the common responses they get from people who learn they are adopting two children that are HIV positive is, "I could never do that."

Granted it would seem like a huge and intimidating undertaking for many people, not impossible, but daunting. But I've heard that phrase in response to so many things.

"Oh I could never home school my kids. I don't have enough patience."

"Oh, I could never have that many children."

"Oh, I could never learn to cook."

"I could never give birth without an epidural."

"Oh, I could never sew my own clothes."

"Oh I could never live on such a small budget."

Oh I could never...

To borrow a phrase from a book a guy I know wrote, "Your vision of your life is too small."

Why do we say that?

How do we know we could never do that? Have we ever tried?

I think that the common use of this phrase is damaging to people, for two main reasons.

First, it slams the door shut on a possibility before it has been fully examined. By saying that we draw borders around our lives, and the possibilities they contain, and we draw them far too narrowly. Suppose your 4 year old child stares longingly at a concert pianist and then turns away with a sigh concluding, "I could never do that." Would you let that stand? Probably not. How do they know what they can or can't do yet? Neither do we know what our lives could or couldn't be if we place our own arbitrary limits on it.

Second, we say it out of fear and so allow fear to control us. How often have you said, "Oh I could never..." simply because the thought of trying such a thing has you scared, but you won't admit it. Perhaps you aren't supposed to. But choosing to believe that you can't, simply because the idea of stretching that far is frightening, not only limits you, but it makes you a slave to fear and doubt, rather than a person who knows they are free to make choices. Let's be honest here. Instead of saying, "I could never..." try "I don't want to...", or "I'm too lazy to..." It's at least more true, and then you are free to examine why that is if you need to.

The older I get the more I realize that extraordinary things are not accomplished by extraordinary people. They are accomplished by every day normal people whose vision of their life is large enough to make room for them to accomplish it. They are faithful, they work very hard, and they believe it is possible. I want to be like that.

So dear friends, today I exhort you to reexamine the story you tell yourself about your life. Where are you limiting yourself? What kinds of things do you routinely tell yourself you just can't do?

Let's encourage each other to stretch a bit.

5 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more!

    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it's time to clean my closet of "I could never..." lies.

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a list of things I thought I could never do:

    * I could never write an original novel.
    * I could never draw.
    * I could never build anything out of wood.
    * I could never fix anything mechanical.
    * I could never learn a tonal language.
    * I could never be a missionary.

    NOTE: I do all those things now.

    Instead of saying "I could never..." I've learned to say, "I could do that, but I don't want to put in the time it would take to do it" ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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