I was 23 years old when I was asked to pray to open a meeting. The room was full of older men, people of perceived importance to my young brain, and we sat at one of those oversized tables that are found in fancy board rooms. Not the cheap manufactured wood kind. This was the real deal, like Paul Bunyan had chopped and then molded it himself. This was like one of those rooms where you’d expect to see men sitting around in armchairs, wearing $3,000 suits, smoking cigars, and drinking scotch.
I felt like I didn’t belong. I was young and had zero confidence. Truth be told, I’m middle aged, and some times I still have zero confidence. But that’s beside the point.
Back to the story. So when the gentleman, and he was a gentle man, asked me to open the proceedings in a word of prayer, all I could feel was their eyes on me. There was no Holy Spirit moving through my words. I wasn’t concerned with honoring God. Just concerned with what they thought of me.
The prayer went about how you’d imagine, and I was profoundly embarrassed. It was so bad that there was a pause after I mumbled “amen.” Silence. Like the guys were asking themselves, “just what kind of idiot is this kid?” And that’s all I could think about for the rest of the meeting. And the rest of the night. And for the rest of …. Well, a while.
I cared what they thought.
You see, as I was reminded during a Bible study this week, the Devil can’t rob your soul, he can’t steal that because – 1. It doesn’t belong to him, and – 2. It doesn’t belong to you either. I like to think of our souls as just being on loan from God. Kinda like the house you say you own, but the bank is really the one with the paperwork.
My soul is on loan, and just like the house, I could always default and let it get taken away. But the Devil can’t steal it. But what he can do is steal your confidence and your joy. Make you second guess yourself. Make you think you don’t belong in the room. Make you think you aren’t good enough. Make you question your intelligence, ability to do the job, or overall worth.
That’s what happened to me back when I was a 23-year-old, insecure, little pup in a room filled with what I considered to be the Masters of the Universe. Imposter syndrome.
A lot of times I’ve let the Devil steal my confidence, my joy. It still happens from time to time. And I bet it will continue to happen until the day God calls my soul home, reclaiming the lease He saw fit to give me for a short while. It’s imposter syndrome and, if you’ve ever had it, you know just how tough it can be.
I think we’re all that way because the older I get and the more people I meet, the more alike I see we all are.
The Devil will try to steal your joy and your confidence all the time in ways you could never imagine. It’s just a matter of whether we let him succeed.
As for me, I do t have a prime. Praying in from of others anymore because I’ve installed a Home Security system round my heart, round my mind, round my soul. It doesn’t always hold, but it’s the number 1 selling system in soul protection for a reason. The Holy Spirit was my salesman and Jesus Christ was my installer. Best thing is it didn’t cost me a cent.
The price had already been paid.
Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognized five times for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association.