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The Asterisks

Far too often, people have scoffed at me or called me arrogant for stating I am one of the best men alive. They interpret my self-praise as a moment of arrogance that needs to be humbled or humiliated rather than my true intention. Could my wording be better? Yes. I am excellence, not perfection. For the people who don’t seem to understand where I have been coming from, I’ll allow you some detail.

When I say that I am great, I am attesting to the literal masterpiece that my Heavenly Father claimed me to be through the words of Paul in Ephesians 2[1]. I declare my greatness because of the words of 1st John 4[2], where God used John to remind us that the Spirit within us is greater than the spirit in the world. If a masterpiece is a masterpiece, who is anyone not an expert in creating masterpieces able to claim otherwise? When was the last time you’ve seen a human create another human? At best, we can only give birth to humans. We cannot create eggs nor sperm, but God created everything.

My God created planets, stars, and atmospheres for me. My God created the wind, land, and sea for me. My God created families, nations, plants, and animals for me[3]. My God died on the cross for me[4]. Surely, He did not do all of this for people who are not worth it. Surely, He does not give what He gives and do what He does for people who are not worthy!

The Bible is full of the words God would have me speak before my own, both as a way to instruct and as a way to encourage. I carry the words of God, fully believing in them every step of the way. When I say I am blessed[5], strong[6], intelligent[7], talented[8], special[9], loved[10], beautiful[11], wise[12], and an overall great person[13], there is a scripture for each belief.

If I abide in Christ and Christ abides in me[14], then His perfection is expressed through me, making me great enough to do His works. I do not create the works nor the power to do them. God created those things. The only thing I do is accept some of the power and some of those works as gifts He has given to me when I am able to get over myself. So, tell me why should I claim anything other than greatness when He, the big God, decides to abide in me?

Why should I be cautious about stating that I am wise? To say I am not wise is to say God does not give what He said He gives freely through James[15] and Solomon[16]. I revere the Lord and do my best to show my love for Him through obedience[17]. I have journeyed down the path of wisdom and have become wise not in my own eyes, but in the eyes of those who hear me.

Are all these people, past and present, liars and fools? Are the people who lift me up by saying I’m “intelligent” and have “a good head on my shoulders” merely trying to appease me, who has nothing to offer them without Christ? Denying each of those statements of praise as anything other than God’s greatness elevating me with Him is foolish.

I stand upon the Word of God as a foundation for my boasting. I highly doubt, though I could be wrong, that there is a single person I’ve met who has never heard me talk about Christ. I do not play about my faith and I do not hide my walk with God. He has made me far greater than I could ever be on my own, and I refuse to believe He is done with me. I only intend to get better with age. I refuse to believe He is satisfied with how far He has taken me. So, why should I not declare the best is yet to come?

I understand my declarations come off as arrogance, and I am working steadily on fixing my tone and language to reflect otherwise. However, you don’t realize how much I have overcome internally to feel comfortable loving me aloud. I used to be a timid kid who was unsure of everything he did. It took many years and many people to bring me to where I am now.

Self-doubt is a constant struggle for me. Oftentimes, I combat thoughts of inadequacy, despite my criticisms of others. Sometimes, I feel like I can’t write as well as others. Sometimes, I feel like I’m not as faithful to God as I appear. Sometimes, I think I’m not obedient enough, strong enough, compassionate enough, intelligent enough, social enough, loving enough, wise enough, or hard-working enough to do anything. I have lived on my own again for two years and, sometimes, I still feel like I’m not going to make it.

I took a lot of damage to my confidence in the years where I could not live on my own, and I have not fully healed from what felt like humiliation for me. Every month I am afraid that I will make the same financial mistakes to put me right back at my mother’s house. This, and plenty more, I have still not healed from.

You want to know how hard it is for me to still feel like a catch after being single for 33 years and never having a girlfriend? I cook, I clean, I listen, I lead, I take care of my responsibilities, I am a great with kids, I have no drama, and, I feel, I am a husband just waiting on his bride and marriage license to make it official. Yet, I still, at times, feel foolish about thinking I could be married. Occasionally, I feel like I’m just doomed to be the husband without his bride for the rest of my life.

You don’t know how much it takes for me to wake up every day and be confident in myself. I doubt too much, and you can probably read now that there are definite cracks in my perceived confidence. I overcome a lot of thoughts to say I am great without a hint of sarcasm or playfulness. It takes the foundation of the Word of God and the pillars of encouragement from friends and family to keep me believing in me.

In fact, if not for the encouragement of my friends and family, I probably would’ve stopped a long time ago. I go through seasons of self-doubt, where I’m literally hundreds of pages into a novel and I think, “What’s the point of this? All these ways to make money in America and I chose to be the starving artist despite my degree, work ethic, and intelligence.” It is hard not to think that there is something wrong with me, and that’s without having to reflect on the long list of sins I commit every week.

That’s why when people ask, “What is wrong with you?” I say, “A lot. What’s your point?” Or, people will say, “You’ve got issues,” and I’ll respond, “But we already knew that. So, what now?” It’s all jokes, but it is a serious statement. I have issues that need fixing and I have wounds and pains that need healing. I am human, just as anyone else. I just rely that on the fact that God isn’t lying.

If God hadn’t told me He’d place me on stages to win awards when I was seventeen, I would’ve quit writing a long time ago. My dream is kept alive by the trust in the promise God gave me. Without that vision, and the several reassuring moments along the way, I would’ve thought myself to be crazy and did the more practical thing like become a lawyer, doctor, engineer, or businessman. Those occupations are other people’s dreams. My dream is to be who God said I could be, and if you didn’t read the scripture already, you should go read that scripture for yourself, because it also applies to you.

Have I been made a fool? Yes. Have I been naïve? Yes. Have I done something stupid? Yes. Do I struggle with sins? Yes. I do not try to hide any of this. Yet, I still have the audacity to see myself as greatness in motion because after all that I’ve done, THE God of all – the Sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords – still rocks with me. He stays by my side, He uplifts me, He pushes me forward, and He speaks words of love over me. I am not who I am without Him, and I will not shy away from that truth.

So, no, I will not stop talking about how great I am. I know the asterisks behind those feelings. I know the fine print behind the statement, “I am awesome.” Just because you don’t doesn’t mean I should hold back. It means you should ask me why I think I’m so amazing. It means you should pay attention to the foundation I place my confidence in.

I have also learned to accept the most positive statements about me and hold them dear. I have been told I have a good head on my shoulders. I have been told I am intelligent. I have been told I’m handsome. I have been told I’m kind. I have been told I’m sweet, thoughtful, romantic, lovable, good, respectful, trustworthy, solid, teachable, and even greater adjectives. These are the words I hold onto.

I do not keep lazy. I do not keep lustful. I do not keep arrogant. I do not keep rude, standoff-ish, jerk, judgmental, or any other derogatory term people attempt to attach to my identity. If the word has not come from God, I do not allow it to take root. I take those negative words as opportunity to reflect on who I am and who I am displaying myself to be, and allow myself to make changes where needed. Then, I move forward knowing who I am in Christ first.

So, when I say I am great*, it is because the Lord created me with a purpose in mind for His breathtaking masterpiece. When I say I am an awesome person*, it is because my parents taught me to be the man that I am using the guiding wisdom of Christ and Christ alone. When I say I am a dope person*, it is because of the family and friends God placed in my life who have invested their time and love into me, allowing me to grow with them and demanding me to better myself with them and for them. When I say I am a catch*, it is because I put in the work, with the overwhelming aid of Jesus Christ, to be a good man with a good heart with good intentions. I am amazing because of Christ Jesus.

Sometimes, you need to remind yourself that no one else can walk in your shoes. Sometimes, you need to remind yourself that you are not one of a billion, but one of one. There is no one else like you. God isn’t lazy with creation. He made you for this life, this century, this decade, this year, this month, this day, and this moment. No one else can do what you do because no one else is called to do what you’re called to do. Find those positive views within yourself and flourish. It is what I believe, and I am proud to act like it.

It is not your place to humble the one whom God took His time with. It is not your duty to make a child of God think less of himself. Instead of questioning me on why I think I’m so great, maybe you should look in the mirror and ask yourself why you don’t think you are worthy of being called His greatness. My greatness is not unique, it can be found and obtained by any man or woman daring enough to reach for it. The question is: will you humble yourself enough to allow God to show you why He calls you His masterpiece?

Be easy,

Dario Augustus

[1] Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT - God saved you by his grace when you - Bible Gateway [2] 1 john 4:1-6 NLT - Discerning False Prophets - Dear - Bible Gateway [3] Genesis 1 NRSV - Six Days of Creation and the Sabbath - Bible Gateway [4] 1 Peter 2:24-25; John 19:16-John 20:31 NRSV - He himself bore our sins in his body on - Bible Gateway [5] Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Matthew 5:1-12 NRSV - Blessings for Obedience - If you will - Bible Gateway [6] 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 NRSV - But if I wish to boast, I will not be a - Bible Gateway [7] 2 Timothy 1:7 NMB - For God has not given to us the spirit - Bible Gateway [8] 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 NMB - The gifts of the Spirit are given to - Bible Gateway [9] Ephesians 2:10; Romans 8:28-31 NMB - For we are his workmanship, created in - Bible Gateway [10] Matthew 10:29-31; 1 John 4:4, 7-17, 19; John 3:16 NRSV - Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? - Bible Gateway [11] Song of Solomon 4:7; Psalms 139:13-15 NRSV - You are altogether beautiful, my love; - Bible Gateway [12] Proverbs 1:7; 2:6 NRSV - The fear of the LORD is the beginning - Bible Gateway [13] John 15:4; Genesis 1:27 NRSV - Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as - Bible Gateway [14] John 15: 1-8 NLT - Jesus, the True Vine - “I am the true - Bible Gateway [15] James 1:5 NRSV - If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask - Bible Gateway [16] Proverbs 2; 1:7 NLT - The Benefits of Wisdom - My child, - Bible Gateway [17] John 14:21 NRSV - They who have my commandments and keep - Bible Gateway

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