Earlier this week I visited a friend who recently had a baby. I seem to be doing that a lot lately. As we sat at her kitchen table watching her four month old try to stick his toes into his mouth, she told me how she still can’t believe she’s a parent sometimes.
“When we got home from the hospital, we looked at each other and wondered what on earth we were supposed to do now,” she said. “We need a Real Adult to tell us how to do this.”
I had to laugh because my parents, who by most standards are Real Adults, tell the same story of bringing me home from the hospital. This must be a common experience among new parents, feeling like they are not at all qualified to keep this tiny human being alive and also make sure they turn out to be a halfway decent person. It’s only a matter of time before everyone else realizes they are not Real Adults.
The technical term for this feeling is Imposter Syndrome. My friend Alyssa
struggling with Imposter Syndrome after her ordination. “I keep thinking someone is going to hear me tell a bad joke or get Peter and Paul confused and revoke my ordination certificate,” she wrote. Despite her years of ministry experience, seminary degree, and clear calling, she still struggled to believe that she was the right person for the job.
Imposter Syndrome happens when no matter how qualified we are, we doubt our own abilities and fear being exposed as a fraud. It’s thinking that if you are even a little unprepared or not an expert on everything, you have no business being here.
That’s a lot of pressure.
This Sunday’s message comes from Isaiah 6, the story of God calling and commissioning Isaiah to be a prophet in Judah. Isaiah, like most prophets in the Old Testament, had a case of Imposter Syndrome. He makes it clear to God that God’s called the wrong person. On Sunday we’ll see how he ends up praying one of the most well-known prayers in the Bible. “Here I am, send me.”