"What in the world are you doing?" our elderly babysitter, Mrs. G asked, her eyes wide as I held a pair of scissors to the material I was about to cut.
"I'm going to make a cowgirl vest!" I responded. I was seven years old and sure I could do anything.
Mrs. G glared at me, then frowned, her eyes narrowing, as wrinkles deepened around her mouth and cheeks.
"You can't do that!" she retorted. "How can you make a vest out of that?" she said sarcastically.
If anything curtailed my exuberation, it was that remark, that look, that tone of voice. I looked down at the material on my lap and let the scissors fall from my fingers.
Mrs. G had frowned at me. Now I was frowning, too. She didn't think I could do it. Maybe she was right.
Without a word, I gathered up the fabric and scissors, and quietly padded down the hall to my room.
"Don't you run with those scissors!" she scolded.
I felt my lips pucker into an "O." I closed my door. I wasn't going to answer.
In my room, I laid the fabric down on the floor. I'd never made a cowgirl vest, but once saw my mother fold fabric on the ping-pong table before she cut out a dress pattern.
I folded the fabric, then held my breath as I put angled the scissors onto the material. I cut the holes for the arms, a curve for the neck, and cut a long curve on each side of the front.
I wanted a tie for the vest, so I cut two narrow strips of material, then poked a little hole in each front flap, and made a knot for each.
"There," I felt my lip curl into a smile. I did it! My cowgirl vest was done. It was pretty raw looking, but I managed to make it out of one piece of material. I hadn't yet learned to sew.
I put on the vest. It didn't fit like I thought it would, but I was proud of it. I sauntered down the hall back to the living room where Mrs. G sat knitting.
"Look what I did!" I gloated. "I made a cowgirl vest!"
Mrs. G looked surprised.
"Well," she said, shrugging her shoulders, "I guess you did." She didn't look very excited, but that was okay. I was excited.
At age seven, I learned to believe in myself, all because of someone saying, "You can't do that!"
Decades later, I have had to remind myself of that lesson. Just this week, I was frustrated every time I tried to rewrite a chapter for my book. It wasn't turning out the way I wanted it to, and I had rewritten it at least eight times.
The negative self-talk slipped out. "I can't do this!"I blurted.
I prayed about it all week, and this morning, out of the blue, the memory of Mrs. G and my cowgirl vest came to mind. I definitely needed some "I Can" encouragement.
I returned to the computer. And guess what? I did it. I rewrote the story. I spend all day on it, but I did it.
Sometimes I forget the things I need to remember, like the story about Mrs. G and my cowgirl vest. There was a verse I forgot about, too. It was one I used to write on the inside of all my notebooks during nursing school. The verse was from Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I want to remember that one more often.
I like Henry Ford's quote, too. You may be familiar with it. "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right."
We all need to believe in ourselves. It's a matter of pushing the obstacles aside, and forging ahead.
I frequently feel like there are things I can't do, but I refuse to give up, even though there are plenty of times I feel like throwing in the towel.
Is there anything you feel you can't do, whether it pertains to writing, or some other task in your life? (Feel free to comment or share)
It is my hope that you will be encouraged in all you do. Have faith, for God has great faith in you!