Thursday, February 22, 2007


A few nights ago, I went to a Ruthie Foster concert, and since then the song “Phenomenal Woman” has been going through my mind. It’s based on a Maya Angelou poem. You can hear it here (click on “Phenomenal Woman” on the right) and you can read the poem here. To me, Ruthie Foster is the epitome of a phenomenal woman – beautiful, sexy, glowing, confident, funny, and with a rich voice that soars through the rafters.

I like it. I like thinking of ourselves as phenomenal. I think too many of us have been raised to believe that we shouldn’t “toot our own horns” or “strut our stuff”. Was it just me, or did you grow up thinking that it was sinful to believe in yourself or be too confident? After all, if we believed in ourselves, then we wouldn’t rely on God enough, right?

Instead, we’ve learned patterns of self-deprecation and low self-esteem. “Oh, I’m not good enough” or “I really don’t have any talents worth sharing” seem to be common phrases on the lips of too many people. (Perhaps it’s especially true for Christians?) I think that’s the OPPOSITE of what God wants to hear from us, because he/she can’t work through us if we doubt our own abilities. Confidence is not sinfulness, it’s trusting that our creator knew what he/she was doing when we were made.

Like Ruthie Foster, I think it’s time to embrace our “phenomenalness”. Oh, I’m not saying we should all start bragging about ourselves, or taking on overly-inflated opinions of ourselves, but what’s wrong with believing that God made us beautiful and talented and phenomenal? Sure we’re all flawed – that’s a given – but we all have within us the seeds of great potential. Believing otherwise is doubting God’s design and ability to work through us.

So today, I am going to believe that I am PHENOMENAL! Truth is, this month it’s not hard to believe. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve been more open to new possibilities, or if my two weeks in Ethiopia inspired me, but all kinds of opportunities and inspired ideas seem to be “dropping in my lap”. (Or perhaps jumping out of a plane last fall did something to unleash the inner boldness in me.)

Usually February gives way to the doldrums, but this past month, I’ve had lots of chances to use the gifts that I most love to use. I’ve been hired for 2 freelance jobs, both of which entail facilitating workshops on things I love to talk about – like leadership and creative thinking. I also facilitated an all day staff retreat (not my own staff), and got my first chance to fly by the seat of my pants and prove that I could do it (I saw the agenda 15 minutes before launching into the day’s discussion). I had a chance to speak in church a few weeks ago – another thing I quite enjoy. I’ve also had a few writing opportunities, and will see some of it appear in print soon.

And then this week, I stumbled onto one of the most inspired ideas I’ve had in a long time. Part of my day-job involves leading the fundraising team. I don’t have much of a fundraising brain, so it’s good that my staff do most of that kind of work. But I’ve just managed to come up with a new campaign that might revolutionize the way we raise money PLUS it involves encouraging people to do more (lifestyle changes, etc.) than just give money. (I can’t tell you too much about it because it’s still in the seedling phase.)

There must be something in the air, because I feel PHENOMENAL! (Sorry – am I bragging too much? I haven’t entirely let go of the idea that it’s NOT okay to talk about myself like this. In fact, I almost deleted this post.)

This is all really exciting stuff for me, because in a few years, I hope to leave a “nine-to-fiver” job behind and do freelance consulting, facilitation, and writing – just the kind of stuff I’ve gotten to do in the last month. Woohoo!

How about you? What makes you feel phenomenal?


Hope said...

I have Amy Sky's version of this song in my car. This is a song that makes me feel powerful, or rather makes me remember I am powerful.
Why am I phenomenal?
Because I exist.
Because I love
Because I am loved.
(Baby that's me)

Michele said...

well you're just saying what i've always known but been afraid to spell... i KNOW you're phenomenal.

Founder of the I Heart Heather Club said...

I feel phenomenal when my family is at peace. When I can stop and help a stranger. When my family is sitting around the dinner table eating a dinner I prepared for them. Telling someone about the mighty healing power of God and seeing the light go off in their eyes, their spirit.

I want to come to one of your workshops. I want to sit and listen to you speak/teach/think. Not many people do we meet in life that inspire me to be more. Not just more for myself, but for the world I live in. Your writing is a gift for me to read.

Thank you. Mushy ending now... =)

Accidental Poet said...

Well this post was certainly thought-provoking - I'm pretty sure I'll be posting what I think on my own blog once I get home and walk the dog and go to the nutritionist and then to a birthday party and then to cell group :)

love you, even if I've never much liked that poem :)

Linda said...

No, you're not bragging. Thanks for this post. It's interesting that I was just pondering this idea of not thinking enough of myself too.

Liz said...

I'm going to have to give this one some thought!

Great post.

Kristin said...

Woohooo!!! I feel the energy. You ARE phenomenal, and these are all such wonderful things to celebrate. Yay for this month, and for you!

ccap said...

I don't know if I completely agree with on this one, Heather. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think we should have a sense of confidence. But, I struggle with the "tooting one's own horn" concept. Especially having read this just now: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant."

Not trying to be holier-than-thou. I just wanted to throw that out there to present it as a bit of an argument.

Heather said...

Well, ccap, you haven't managed to change my mind. If I choose to believe I am "fearfully and wonderfully made", I don't think it's tooting my OWN horn so much as my Creator's. I think the psalmist would agree. And I don't think the verse you quote disputes what I say - you can have the heart of a servant and still be confident you're using the giftedness you've been entrusted with.

juniper68 said...

Hi Heather,
Love this post. I think it's such a good message as we head into Lent - I've been thinking today about humility and realizing how often the feeling I think is humility is actually a weird kind of hubris (what my AA pals call "the piece of shit at the center of the universe").
Anyway, thanks for the reminder that it is our birthright to claim our gifts!

Whippersnapper said...

I think you SHOULD toot your own damn horn, because it's a tough old world out there, and no-one else is gonna toot it for you. And you've got a lot to toot about. OK, that's way too many toots in one comment for ANYONE to feel good about..

Joyce said...

Heather- this struck a chord of something that's just sprouting inside of me, and I'm glad you decided not to delete it. when I read posts like yours and Michele's, I am always struck by the power and confidence and "smarts" that you women have. And I think to myself- "self, too many women spend their lives apologizing, or focusing on their thighs or belly, (ok, that might include me) and they miss out on the impact they may have had on the world. Self- what can you do to encourage women to be powerful and confident the way I'm sure God created us to be?"

We are powerful not because we convince ourselves that we are, but because God's power resides in us. He has plans for his creations to impact the world, and change it through love.

(verification word: haljuihv
That's shockingly close to halleluia!)

Vicki said...

I would imagine that Moses felt so inadiquate (spelling?) for the job he knew God had for him. However, I believe he had a "Heather" moment also. There was a time he grasped that even if he wasn't perfect it was his destany to lead the people out of Egypt. Same with David. David wasnt' perfect but he had a heart for God. He searched for God and loved Him and sang to Him. We all have Heather moments but we are not all so well put together to be able to express it in such words as you did today Heather.

Again I thank you.

As you can see my shorfall is spelling LOL God, please still use my words even if they are spelled wrong.

Gina said...

I am glad you didn't delete this post, Heather. I think we don't feel really good about ourselves nearly enough.

Right now, just because I am no longer sick, I am starting to feel phenomenal again!

Dale said...

"After all, if we believed in ourselves, then we wouldn’t rely on God enough, right?"

Maybe, Heather. But I think the Truth might be more like 'wouldn't rely on MEN enough.'

Yes. We're all phenomenal. Even women. Especially women!