Reverse the Question

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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“Hi, love, how’d you sleep?”

My 15-year-old daughter wandered into the kitchen and sat down.

“Mom, I dreamed again last night about starting high school. I was standing in the halls of the high school crying. I couldn’t find my locker and didn’t know what room to go to, and everybody was looking at me like I’m stupid.”

My daughter is taller than I am. Her feet outsize mine. She is a straight-A student whose solos before 300 people look as traumatic as brushing teeth, and she engages adults like a future politician. She’s bright and funny. But when it comes to change, transitions, risks, the unknown … her confidence flies out the window. I wanted to reassure her, to say she’d do fine, that she is a normal 15-year-old—except smarter—when she stopped me cold.

“Mom, what’s wrong with me? Why is it a big deal to me and not to any of my friends?”

Absolutely nothing is wrong with you—except that you have a mom who’s said the same words, been slave to the same fears. Every time something didn’t go well or I faced my own fear, my psyche defaulted to self-condemnation: What’s wrong with me . . . I need to get with it . . . I can do this. Doubt shadowed me like Pigpen’s dirt cloud.

I hugged her, remembering that I wrote four books before I had the confidence to call myself a writer. As parents often do, I heard myself utter words I wasn’t sure were mine.

“When you wake up from a bad dream, or feel scared and unsure, do you think God would ask, ‘So! What’s wrong with you?’ No, God would say, ‘What’s right with you?’”

She pulled away and looked at me . . . what do you mean?

“What if, instead of, ‘What’s wrong with me,’ you started asking, ‘What’s right with me?’ God made you; we love you; people like you. Turn it around. Ask yourself the other side of the question.”

A cloud lifted. She left the kitchen and I said to myself:

God made me. I am loved. What’s right with me?