What Are You Listening To?

The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves.
~ Richard Bach

My father-in-law requested I speak at his funeral. I had never done that before and it terrified me. I pictured myself in a sharp dark suit with all eyes on me, and I got nothing. How do you sum up a 95-year old World War II veteran’s life in a few minutes? Should I be funny? What if I screw up and say something stupid? So, before I wrote a single word, I asked my friend Don for advice. He thought for a moment, and then he said something I won’t forget. “Remember that funerals are for the living,” he began. “I think what people want to hear more than anything is that they were enough.”

We have trouble with this.

We never feel like enough, and we’re quick to believe the stories we invent in our weird little brains. These stories are often untrue but they date back to childhood. They are told in a familiar voice. We like familiar.

I can’t.
People won’t like me.
What if I fail?
Who cares what I have to say?
There are ten million people better than me.

Imagine the creativity these voices kill – The writer who doesn’t believe she can write, the speaker afraid to speak, the singer that remains silent. A world, starving for good, goes without because of what Max Lucado calls, “the devil’s hell-hatched hoax.”

I’ve got an important question for you. Would you hang out with a person who talks to you the way you talk about yourself? Do you ever call people who criticize, disparage, and beat you down? Never. You give them very little or no space in your life. I suggest you do the same with these voices.

On a beautiful sunny afternoon in a packed little white church in northern Michigan, I delivered a eulogy I think Dad would have liked. There was laughter and tears and afterwards, a complete stranger walked up and asked if I’d deliver hers too.

I was enough. And so are you.

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