do you have an inner critic or scripts you say to yourself in your head? what does it say? and have you ever allowed it to sabotage yourself? are you in that respect at times your own worst enemy?
if so you have to get janet davis' book of that name - my own worst enemy which according to amazon is available in the uk from today. it is a book written for women really but i read it and hoped no one was looking over my shoulder! i met janet at a training session i was leading in austin earlier in the year and then at a party at friends bob and lisa's in the evening of the same day when she gave me the book.
each chapter in the book unpacks a story of a woman from the scriptures - hannah, naomi, the wise woman of abel (do you know her story?!), tamar, martha, the woman bleeding for 12 years… and interweaves that with a story of a woman - sometimes janet or sometimes someone whose story has been shared with her. and then janet has an incredible ability to name patterns and draw out insights and wisdom woven into the flow of the stories. each chapter ends with a series of very poignant questions. i was very moved by the book. i read it on the plane on the way back to england and couldn't put it down. i shed tears. (not only was i reading a book for girls i couldn't stop crying!) i cried because i have seen this self sabotage ebb and flow in many wonderful, gifted women i know and seen the destructive power of their inner critics. and i have often felt confused by it or powerless to know how to help people believe in their own sense of self, to feel worthy, to 'shine' as janet would say, to find kindness towards themselves.
culturally (and forgive the generalisations - very dangerous territory i know) there is an environment, unintended no doubt but real, where women struggle with this in particular ways that janet is naming powerfully. janet is interviewed on the sophia network here where she says more about it. i really hope she comes over to the uk at some point to share her wisdom. i feel slightly nervous as a man even straying into this conversation - it's hard to know how to talk about it. and of course it's not a universal thing (is anything?!) and hopefully there are lots of women who do not have this same struggle. but i suspect many women will find this a real help and the kind of book that would be really good to read and talk about with a group. sadly all too often the church which should be a place of liberation for women can compound the problem in various ways with its patterns around gender roles and behaviours, theologies and expectations, language and power games, and simply invisibility.
of course this also made me think about men - many men feel unworthy or frauds no doubt undergirded by inner critical voices. and i'm sure a similar overlay on bible stories could be made. i suspect it gets played out differently - men not shining may look ugly in a different way, and have a different sadness about it. i need to think about this more and would welcome anyone else's insights on it.