I have minuscule sinuses. Like really tiny. In middle school I had surgery to blast them out, because I could never rid myself of an infection. It would retreat and convince me that it was gone, only to cycle back again stronger when my guards were down. That’s sort of what this post like… on a more or less gross level. It’s an idea that has been formulating for months and has made its way to the surface of conversations with all types of women… other young moms, non-moms, my grandmother, my mom. I actually wrote this a couple of weeks ago, but it was too raw, too unfiltered to share, and I planned to let it fade into simply a personal catharsis, but the number of women who have nodded excitedly and said, “YES! That!” during our conversations kept it top of mind, and when I shared it with David, he urged me to refine it and share it.
I don’t think this is a strictly female issue, of course, but I do believe it’s something from which women feel the chronic burden: the curse of competency.
We’re incredibly good at doing a lot of things… now, let’s shrink our heads just a bit… it doesn’t mean that we’re really good at a lot of separate things, but when we’re given a lot of things to do or handle at a single moment, we will Olivia Pope them even better than Kerry Washington. We’re efficient, self-motivated, and resilient. We’re saddled with the curse of competency. We create our own prison bars by achieving tasks.
The problem with building our identities on how much we can do, how much we can juggle, how much we can bear, is that we begin to simply avoid all the things that we can’t. We are so competent, that it becomes harder to recognize the times that we are, in fact, incompetent, and at least for me, all the things I’m carrying well begin to crowd out the reality that I cannot do it all and that I do need help. Lots of it. It begins to casually shift my mindset of my relationships from “essential” to “nice to have.” And that’s where things get ugly, distorted and dangerous.
Hyper-competency is sort of like building a PlayDough Fun Factory in your heart. You can churn out a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t mean they’re real things. Friendships? Yep, nice to have… how else would I know that blunt bangs are not a good look for me? Marriage? Love my husband; nice to have around, but when he’s not, I still get everything accomplished. Lord and Savior? Super nice to have, but look how well I’m managing on my own, God! I let the enemy trick me into thinking that I’m doing others a favor by not needing too much of their time, energy or attention.
By convincing ourselves that we don’t need anyone else, it’s as though we’ve kept ourselves fresh and crisp inside a tightly sealed Tupperware container, but eventually we yearn for someone. I desperately want someone to know when I’m falling apart. But I can’t open the Tupperware from the inside, and instead I let resentment build that none of my nice to haves feel the needs that I have. I haven’t allowed them to feel my needs from inside my airtight container and have alienated myself from knowing how to communicate clearly and directly. “Hi. I need you right now.”
If I don’t need friendships, then I have acquaintances. I don’t want acquaintances. I want deep friendships. If I don’t need a husband, then I have a male roommate. I don’t want simply companionship, I want us to continue to building on the rich intimacy we’re called to have and, blessedly, do have. If I don’t need to be saved, then I don’t have a Savior (Oof. That one hurts.). And I so desperately need a Savior. We cannot define anything by its intended purpose in life if we don’t allow it to act in that role.
The curse of competency isn’t a matter of competency at all. It’s pride that has become incompetent at embracing humility. When I pride myself on my diligence, rigor, hardiness, and regulation, I’m operating outside of the humanity the Creator so painstakingly breathed into me.
The Lord wants SO MUCH MORE for us than that. He knows that my needs are met through the relationships He has built for me to, well, need. My pride needs to be demolished because humility isn’t just nice to have, it’s vital for any profundity in community not just with people, but with my Creator.
God didn’t wrap up Creation and say to the world, “Look how many things I made well. Great job, me.” Instead He saw the aching need that His Creation had for His supernatural touch and a personal relationship with Him. By proudly sporting the scarlet letter badge of my own competency, I’m allowing the enemy to steal my heart on day 5 of creation and not experience the wonder that God meant for me. We need to embrace that our hearts are worth more than that.