I Cannot Be Replaced Because

I have always worried, deep down inside, that I’m not enough.

Perfection was my idol, a lying, thieving bitch (pardon my language, but there it is). She beckoned me as a child, lived with me as a teenager, settled in me as a young adult, warping my ambition and convincing me that hiding the truth of my imperfection was an absolute necessity.

I aimed for perfection and fell short. No surprise there. So I believed I had to lie, to myself and others, and I got pretty good at it. All along, it seemed that I was protecting myself; my salvation came through denial. In reality, I was wrapping myself in a shroud of non-reflective, suffocating insulation; choking on self-protective gear that did nothing more than make me more susceptible to the inevitable slings and arrows of life. My wounds – things that normal people experience and simply grow through – became disasters that warped my understanding of myself, devastated relationships, and left me wrecked.


And what was I lying about?

I was desperately frightened of the relentless, rhythmic voltage inside of me that whispered, lest someone else might hear, You should be perfect, you were born to be perfect, but you’re not you’re not you’re not you’re not good enough because you. are. not. perfect. You are not enough.

I believed it. In spite of being raised “right”, growing up “in church”, achieving good grades and scholarships and honors and accolades; deep down, that voice never stopped.

I’m so much better than I used to be. In fact, I’d like to think that I’m past all that now. I have experienced a deep level of authenticity in places where it matters most, where healing begins. A deep, honest friendship rimmed by a lifelong commitment. Spiritual leaders who have revealed their own imperfections, and allowed me to love them (helping release the logic that if I love them in their imperfection, maybe it’s okay if they love me in my own…) A community of faith that is built upon – rather than avoids – an awareness of brokenness – for there begins our need for grace.

But I remember. It’s like the faint image of a bruise that’s still a little sore from a lifetime of banging the same anvil across the same delicate tissue.

I remember, and I recognize the sound and the sight as I see others struggle, hear it in their voice, understand the warped logic of the lie of perfectionism. I hear Brene Brown speak and it’s not just me it’s not just me it’s not just me overtakes the voice inside my head; there is strength in numbers, and I’m not alone, and that knowledge makes me stronger.

We help one another when we’re honest – about one another, and about ourselves. It has helped me to become healthy.

And so: It is National Suicide Prevention Week, and although one might think it a big leap from a short blog post about perfectionism, it’s not, really.

It’s not.

And I know many of you who read these words, and I know that you struggle with your own shame, your own weakness, the places where you believe you fall short. I know that there is A Thing that whispers it’s lies to you, too.

And I think it’s time we take a step forward, in the middle of so many good, healing things around us, and I think we reach out and do something that will help us help one another, because when we share our stories, we shout that we are not alone, none of us. And sometimes, that’s the one thing, at the one moment, that somebody needs to hear.

So let us do this one thing, men and women and teenagers and young adults and my children – all of us. Simply finish this sentence.

I cannot be replaced because
That voice that’s saying, “Forget this – how self-absorbed and narcissistic do you think you are? That’s stupid. That’s selfish. Say something like that and people are going to think you think you’re all that. You have no right….you ought to be ashamed…” Yeah, that’s the same crap she tries to tell me. As my mom would say, STOMP HER and make her shut up, and then answer the question, here in the comments or on my Facebook page or on your own.
Own your value. Accept your worth. And if you have trouble, if your broken places have clouded your vision so that you have no answer to that question, know this: it’s just cloudy. That’s all. You have an answer. If you cannot find it, ask someone you trust. We will gently push away the clouds and help you see.
When we understand our own value, we make room in our hearts to understand someone else’s. 
And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
I cannot be replaced because
  • I am their mother.
  • My voice is unique.
  • He only has one sister.
  • I make the best chicken and rice.
  • I am his portion.
It’s your turn. One thing or ten. Why is it that you cannot be replaced? 

7 thoughts on “I Cannot Be Replaced Because

  1. This makes me cry, and I believe so much in this, as you know: the honesty, the authenticity, the community. But–although I tend to err on the side of grace for myself–I don't have a tip-of-my-tongue answer to your question, and I shall work (through my sadness) toward it. I love you so much.


  2. Paul Harvey gave a wonderful reading one time about how it's the imperfections about a home that makes it dear to us: the ding on the coffee table, the place that always squeaks, all of those things. I think that the same is true of people: the quirks we have, the way we respond to things, the characteristic smirk, the way our eyes tear up when we hear a touching story (and the kids roll their eyes at how EMBARASSING their parents are–so weepy and old acting). It seems that when people and in particular, our kids, see that we love them desperately in spite of our faults, the weirdness and imperfections become endearing.
    Thanks for a wonderful, transparent and precious post!


  3. I cannot be replaced because I belong to the Father, I am his child and he created me to be who and what I am. Complete with a load of imperfections. Yet he loves me, and so hard as it is, I learn to love myself in the way that he does. Without apology for who and what I am. That's on one level.
    On the next I can totally relate to your post. And our own nearsightedness about ourselves. I was never sure what perfection was, I only knew I wasn't “it”. Leaving me to look for some elusive ideal outside myself.
    I cannot be replaced because I have things left in my life that only I can do.
    I have the ocean and turtle babies to birth
    And I am not finished.

    As a post script to your note, and this month. Three weeks ago today my best of friends here brother took his own life. At age 41. He left behind a wife and two young children. We are all still reeling from the shock. There were no signs. And no, he can nor will ever be replaced.

    I have to think about this some more… thank you for posting something so thought provoking.


  4. Wow Beth. So beautifully written and such a great description of how many of us feel, or have felt, in our lives. It took me 40 years to jump this hurdle, and yet, that bitch is still occasionally around the corner goading me too. I love you and your raw honesty my friend.


  5. Wow…thanks for the transparency. I struggle with this too. In high school I felt I wasn't thin enough, pretty enough, talented enough. During college years, I felt I wasn't smart enough. After divorce, I again struggled with feelings of not being enough. I mean, if your best friend and partner leaves…something's wrong with you, right? Thankfully, a strong support group (both friends and actual support group), a late in life diagnosis of ADD (explained alot of struggles), a growing faithwalk, and God's neverending grace and mercy, I realize that I am NOT perfect, never will be, but I am His. And I can't be replaced, and what's more, He doesn't want to. He loves me for me.

    Thanks for this post Beth.


  6. Beth, this was very thought provoking. I think the oldest child almost always suffers from this thinking because every parent wants to be the perfect parent and they expect a lot from their first child. That child then expects a lot from themselves. When we reach age 40 or there abouts, we “get” the fact that our expectations were way too high and we settle in to the fact that we are who we are and that's ok. We realize that God didn't have that expectation for us and sent His Son instead, to achieve perfection.

    We just lost a son a few months ago and have this tremendous sense of loss. No one can ever fill the gap that he left. No one I know will ever take his place, that fact has made me understand a bit of my own value as God's ambassador in this world. What my son did better than anyone I know, is relate to people with Christ's love. That is why his presence is missed by so many people. My goal is not to be perfect but to do relationships well. It is why we are here, to reach others and let Christ love them through us. Nothing else really matters.


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