The Lies We Don’t Know We’re Telling

Out on the lake is where we like to spend our days in the scorching summer months of the South. My In-laws have a pale yellow, vintage trihull that is just large enough for us, his parents, brother, the dog, our chairs, and the cooler. And it’s absolutely perfect. My place is up front, with the cold, but crystal clear spray hitting me in the face, and that’s exactly where I like to be. We usually find a small island, with easy access to the water, and tie the boat up there. It was on that small island with no name that I realized the first of many lies I had been told over the course of my life.


The family dog “Shelby” at Lake Jocassee in late May 2015

After we fished for a spell, and got our site setup for the day, my in-laws would normally don their life jackets and head out to the still water of the cove to water ski, solemn, or wake board. However, my parents didn’t own a boat growing up and we didn’t really spend any time at the lake, so I had never even attempted water sports before. I would watch from the island as the boat would pull them to their feet and then sling them around the lake in its’ wake. And even though they asked and encouraged me to learn, I always said no. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to though, oh no. A smile never left their face when they were maneuvering on top of the water, and they were always regaling tales of  their triumphs and wipe outs afterwards. Part of me was dying to experience that, but somehow I just knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it and I would end up even more defeated than I was by standing on the beach. I didn’t realize how ridiculous this mindset was until I heard myself make this statement after my husband asked me why I didn’t want to even put the skis on to try:

“I don’t want to try because I know I won’t be able to do it.”

I stated this as if it were the matter of fact truth. I could see so obviously that it would be impossible for me to even get up on the skis, much less stay up behind the turbulence of the boat, so why were they still asking me to try? But that was the moment I realized that I was not seeing myself in reality. The mirror I looked in everyday had been distorted with the image of what other people told me I was like.

I’m an only child, and I grew up with cows and rolling hills for neighbors, instead of other children. I learned to entertain myself with things that didn’t require teammates, so I became good friends with books, art, and music.  And I enjoyed spending my time doing those things. Subsequently, somewhere along the way, because I was interested in those things, I was told that I couldn’t also be interested in sports or athletics of any kind. Those who had implied or put those expectations on me weren’t in nature malicious or deceitful, they really just believed them to be true, and someone else had probably put similar limitations on them at some time in their life. At first it didn’t really bother me and I accepted it, everyone can’t be good at everything, right? And as the years went on, the majority who said I wouldn’t be good at those things turned out to be correct. I couldn’t really throw a softball with any aim or force, tried basketball for about a week before I realized I was lagging so far behind the others, and I usually tripped on just about anything other than a perfectly flat surface. So I joined the band, was in every school musical, and that’s just who I was.

So fast-forward some years, and I am that same artsy, clumsy girl standing on an island, in the middle of a lake. Except, I’m not. Because I have just realized that almost everything I have believed about myself to be true, has been a lie. Maybe I could never get the ball into the catcher’s mit, because I never actually believed that I could. Perhaps I couldn’t keep up in basketball tryouts because I didn’t expect to make the team, so I didn’t really try. I may not have turned out to be the MVP, or the one the colleges scouted out, but just maybe it hadn’t been impossible like I had thought it to be. So, hesitantly I walked waist deep into the water with the skis in hand. I struggled a little when I put them on, and tried to get in a crouched position just so, they way they had shown me. Holding onto the handle of the tow rope with every bit of grip I could muster, I nodded and the boat took off; and I ate water. And that was the usual pattern of our Saturdays at the lake this Summer, I would get in position, nod, and then the rope would jerk up out of my hands and I would be sent tumbling across the surface. Usually resulting in a lung full of lake water, once in a black eye, and a debatable concussion, but with every attempt I got a little further out of the water. And then, in an incredibly victorious moment, I was up on the skis gliding in the wake of the boat. In that instant, every deception of who I was thought to be, had completely been shattered, for it was not impossible anymore. It had all been a lie.

Although it may not appear so, this article isn’t really about water skiing at all, but about something so much larger. What have you been told is impossible for you? That you shouldn’t even try, because there isn’t a chance that you would be able to accomplish it? Maybe you believe you are “too old” to pursue a dream, or a different career, that you just “aren’t a people person” so you spend much of your time alone, that your not “smart enough” to achieve a goal, or “too young” to make a difference. I challenge you to rethink your normal and discern the truth from whatever it is that has been affirmed over and over to you about who you are. You have been fearfully and wonderfully made, if what you have been told contradicts that, then it cannot be true.


 I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me.

                                 Philippians 4:13  (NKJV)


My husband and I at Lake Jocassee in late May 2015

*To my father-in-law and husband, thank you so very much for your patience and encouragement. I cannot count how many times you circled the boat back around after I fell, but you never gave up on me. I love you both!



5 thoughts on “The Lies We Don’t Know We’re Telling

  1. Thanks for you comments. Your story reminds me of two stories from two points of view. Forgive me if I indulge.
    First one…neither of my parents were particularly athletic. And for years I believed I wasn’t either…until I found a sport (volleyball in my case) that I loved and turned out to be really good at. The barrier broken, I went on to have loads of fun in all sorts of athletics. I won’t be MVP but I have fun and stay active.

    Story two: When I was a graduate student teaching Geology 101 (affectionately known as “rocks for jocks”) I had one particular student who was by far the best in the class. She got everything right and was willing to work on extra stuff. When I asked her to try a more advanced course, that she had the potential to be a great scientist, she said, “Oh no. I’m no good at science.” Somewhere, someone had told her that and she took it to heart. And I couldn’t change her mind even with her accomplishments in front of her. She was a big reason I went into teaching.

    My roundabout moral: Sometimes we need to close off the voices in our head. They aren’t always ours.
    I love your story because you found an artificial barrier and decided to cross. And now you are doing so much more.
    Best regards and I look forward to more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved your comment and the story behind it! It is amazing how we limit ourselves! Sometimes we just need a little encouragement to realize our full potential, just like you did for your former student. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!


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