You Are Enough: Healing from Self-Doubt with Verna Mayers-Fakunle
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How Verna learned that putting up a façade to protect herself from pain was actually causing her greater pain – and how she learned to be open and authentic with herself and with others
- What Verna calls “the ultimate level of people pleasing” – and how to overcome it
- Verna’s journey to heal from self-doubt and negative self-talk
- How God used the writing process to heal Verna’s past trauma
- The importance of chasing after your God-given dreams and talents – even if you’re afraid of what others will think
- Verna’s advice for the writer who hesitates to put their story out into the world because of fear and self-doubt
Be sure to read all the way to the end for important links and information!
For many Christian authors, the dream of writing a book is born out of a troubled past. Maybe you’ve overcome addiction, experienced tragedy, or were bullied and harassed as a kid. Whatever the case may be, your story is worth sharing with the world.
Verna Mayers-Fakunle is a living, breathing example of what it’s like to overcome. Despite decades of self-doubt, Verna learned to decide her past would not define her; instead, she uses it as motivation to achieve even greater things for God and for the world. Let Verna’s story remind you that God has a plan for your life to reach others – so dream big, and allow Him to lead you where He desires. You never know what might happen, or the impact you can make, when you put your trust in Him.
Hiding the Pain Causes Even More Pain
Verna makes it clear that coming to a place where she can share her story has been a lifelong journey. Having struggled with her weight her entire life, Verna built up a shell-like persona to protect herself from the pain of being bullied. As a result, she kept people at a distance: “Most people saw the outside me, who was confident, kind, loyal, and independent – all the things I wanted people to see about me. I portrayed that I was strong and impenetrable, so you could insult me or bully me or do whatever and you’d know that Verna was going to be okay.”
But after keeping up this façade for 50 years, Verna was tired. She’d spent years feeling frustrated because no one took care of her needs like she took care of theirs, but now she came to understand that others had no way of knowing what she needed. “Until I was able to 100% authentically allow people to see who I was, they really couldn’t be there for me,” she realized.
Instead of letting others help her work through her pain, Verna was holding it all inside, hiding it so no one could see. And not only was she dealing with the pain and trauma of cruel things people had said about her, but she was also dealing with the pain of things she had told herself. “It’s one thing when people are telling you you’re not good enough,” Verna says, “but it’s another thing when you, yourself, don’t believe you’re good enough. And I was dealing with both. So it was like a double whammy.”
Eventually, God led Verna to realize she was keeping Him out, too – and that the only way for Him to heal her was for her to let Him in. Once she finally did and her healing began, she was able to look beyond herself and recognize that other people were wrestling with self-doubt and low self-esteem in the same ways she was. Only then did she start to realize her purpose: to share her story with those people and help them find healing, too.
That’s why Verna says her greatest motivation is that she doesn’t want people to feel like they can’t do what God has called them to do. “We’re all birthed with a purpose,” she says. “We’re all birthed with this thing that God uniquely places us here on earth to do. And we spend so much of our time trying to measure up to what God has told us we’re going to do, but the wonderful thing about that is he’s already given you what you need to do it. When He thought of you, when He formed you in your mother’s womb, He already placed it all inside of you. So you don’t have to seek it. You’re good enough, right now, where you are.”
Verna wants to help people understand what she’s learned: that you don’t have to improve anything about yourself to be “good enough” for God to use you – you just have to let Him in so He can heal and guide you. And that takes honesty, both with God and with ourselves.
Verna recalls looking in the mirror and telling herself that she was great and wonderful, but not really believing a word of it. Only once she learned to be authentic with herself about who she was and what she was struggling with was she able to experience healing and then go out and help heal other people.
Letting Go of People Pleasing
Verna’s story is a common one. Many people wear a mask, afraid to let others in for fear of judgment or rejection. They worry that if they let others in, those people might no longer love or even like them. So as a form of self-preservation, they work very hard to keep up an image that isn’t who they really are.
Verna calls this the ultimate level of people pleasing. “Being overweight, I was so intent on not allowing that to be a negative thing,” she recalls. “And so I didn’t allow people to even see the real me, because I thought by being cool, funny, helpful, loyal, dedicated, and committed, that people would overlook the weight.”
Instead of focusing on learning to be healthy, Verna put all her energy into being all the things she wanted people to believe she was. She overwhelmed herself with trying to be a hero for everyone else, and as a result couldn’t spare any time to think about what she really needed to do for herself.
Of course, everyone’s story is different. But many of us have had times when we were so focused on the parts of ourselves that we think don’t measure up – but those things don’t define who we are. And, as Verna has learned, trying to please others so they don’t see your vulnerabilities doesn’t ultimately work.
Think of it as a thorn in your side: untreated, those insecurities and hurts and trauma will get infected and impact the rest of your life. For Verna, that thorn of pain and self-doubt was affecting everything about how she interacted with her loved ones – and with herself – and was even causing her to operate in what she calls a spirit of bitterness.
But once she started allowing God to remove the bitterness and pain, she was able to experience real change inside and out. “When you have a real relationship with God,” Verna says, “there’s going to come a point in time where you understand that He can’t just be on the surface – He has to be your everything. I got to the place where I was like, ‘God, I just want to be the best version of me that you created me to be.’ And that meant allowing him to get in there and just completely heal and make me whole.”
Getting to the Root of Self-Doubt
Verna’s book, Living BIG: Bold, Inspired & Gifted: Shattering the Looking Glass to Embrace the Greatness Within, is all about her journey to overcome self-doubt, fear, and pain so she could step into the purpose God laid out for her. “In the mirror, we see a reflection of ourselves,” she explains. “But even when we’re looking in the mirror, we can sometimes not be honest about what we really see.”
For Verna, overcoming fear and self-doubt meant realizing that she didn’t necessarily have to change her weight or outside appearance: “If you never lose the pounds – if you are 100 pounds or 500 pounds or 600 pounds – it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t keep you from living your best life that God has wanted you to live.”
But while Verna’s personal struggle had to do with weight, she also points out that self-doubt and fear can stem from anything in a person’s life or background that prevents them from believing they can be what God has called them to be. To overcome it, we must deal with our own negative perceptions of ourselves.
“When we’re victimized or traumatized, we spend so much of our time focused on who did what,” Verna says. “You know: they did this to me, and why was this done to me? But we don’t take the time to figure out our part, and what we have done to ourselves.” That’s why Verna is so passionate about sharing her story, so that someone else who’s experiencing self-doubt, fear, and negative self-perceptions can be encouraged knowing they’re not alone.
Verna strongly believes that what God has done for her, He can do for anyone – you just have to be willing to take that first step.
And, as she hopes to inspire people to begin their journey of healing with God, Verna also wants to help people understand that it’s a very personal and individual process. What takes a week for one person to work through may take another person several weeks or even years.
“Healing, deliverance, walking in your purpose – don’t despise the value of the journey,” Verna reminds us. “It took me about 10 or more years to write this book. And you know, that’s really weird in a culture that says, ‘Write a book in 30 days,’ or ‘self-published in 90 days.’ But my book grew with me. It matured with me. It grew through things with me, and I intentionally wanted to do that. This journey has been a roller coaster ride, so I wanted to be sure that I was able to authentically share with my reader how that journey was for me.”
Maybe you can identify with Verna’s story. Maybe you’re working on a project, or God has given you the idea for a book, and you wanted to get it done within a specific time frame. But what if God is challenging you to document things as they are happening versus being obsessed with a timeline? Maybe – just maybe – the way that God wants to use you is different from your original plan. There’s nothing wrong with getting a book done in 90 days. But that doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it.
From Journaling to Authorship: A Journey of Healing
A lifelong avid reader, Verna always knew she wanted to be an author. Reading was her way to escape from being bullied or not having many friends, and as she got a little older, she turned to journaling to release the pain she was feeling. As she journaled her thoughts and feelings, she realized she could use what she had written as the foundation for a book.
So Verna began to pray and ask God what she needed to share. But even as God began to show her the premise of her book, Verna still had to undergo a long, difficult process of healing. “God would rip a scab off,” she recalls, “and then we would work through healing. And dealing with the emotional trauma was tiring sometimes. I was like, ‘God, okay, we worked through this, now I need a break. Mentally, I’m not ready to move forward into this next level of healing, and this next layer of deliverance, so give me some time.”
In that way, one step at a time, Verna and God worked through healing each layer of pain she had hidden away inside for so long. Sometimes, that meant sharing pieces of herself that she didn’t like as much, because she needed to be vulnerable: “People need to read about your journey, and it can’t be all rainbows and pots of gold. They’ve got to see the pain, and they’ve got to see the truth and honesty of what you’re going through.”
It was a long journey – one that Verna likens to the experience of being in labor and physically giving birth – but finally Verna was able to share her full, honest story.
Still, even once her book was ready to be released, Verna hesitated, feeling insecure about what people who knew her would think when they read it. For a while, she stalled, busying herself with tweaking a little here, and adding a little there. Eventually, however, she knew it was time to just let it go.
Once she did, God filled her with peace. “It’s not so much about me anymore,” she says. “I’m so glad to be able to share my journey, but it’s really about the people who are going to be helped as a result of what God led me to share. So I really have gotten over myself, so to speak.”
Go After Your God-Given Dreams
When it comes to her mission to help others, Verna’s book is only one piece of the puzzle. At the age of 51 she became a full-time business owner as a business and educational consultant, professional development coach, and inspirational speaker. And in doing so, she fulfilled yet another lifelong dream.
As a child, Verna remembers watching her grandfather raise nine children as an entrepreneur with only an elementary school education: “The things he did were labor-intensive. He worked from sunup to sundown, but he was so joyful. And so watching him, I was like, I want to have my own business one day. And that was something that was birthed in me from a child.”
But as she got older, Verna had allowed self-doubt to hold her back. Telling herself no one would believe in her or support her business, Verna worked traditional jobs from age 17 all the way to age 51. Then, while she worked from home due to COVID, she heard God telling her it was time to take all the talents and skills she’d built up working for others and use them to work for herself.
23 years in higher education instilled in Verna a love for strategic planning, alignment, and management, and helping people breathe life into their dreams, visions, and goals. As God showed her how she could use those gifts to build her own business, she was inspired to finally step out on faith and do it: “The day after my 51st birthday, I walked away from what I had known for my whole life, and became a business owner. My business is basically the opportunity for me to do the thing I love, which is allowing people to share their vision, their dreams, and their goals with me, and me helping them to achieve them.”
While Verna’s book is able to inspire people to live their dreams and pursue the purpose God has placed in them, her business allows her to take it one step further and show people exactly how to make that happen.
Where You Are Now Is Where You Need To Be
Verna reached a point in her journey where – with God’s help – she found the courage to put her story out into the world, despite her self-doubt and fear of what people might think. But maybe you’re not there yet. Maybe you don’t feel ready to jump out there and be honest about your story, so you’re holding back.
If that’s you, Verna wants you to know that you don’t have to be in a certain position to move forward: “Recognize and understand that where you are right now is where you need to be. That you can make the decision to change your life for the better. Right now, today, without changing anything, you are enough. You are called, you are gifted, you have been prepared, you are equipped – there is nothing else that needs to fall in place for you to be what God has called you to be.”
Set aside your own negative thoughts and the negative things you’ve heard from other people, and instead focus on who God says you are. By drawing on His strength, you’ll be able to move forward into healing and into sharing your story.
“I had to stop listening to myself,” Verna adds. “I had to stop listening to everyone else. And I had to just listen to what God was saying. And that’s going to be the catalyst. That right there is how you shift from ‘I’m not ready’ to ‘I’m going to do it’: by listening in and honing into the voice of God and allowing him to give you the strength that you yourself may not have to move forward.”
So turn your attention from who you think you are and how you think you don’t measure up, and instead trust God. Trust that you can do what you need to do through Him, because He is the one that makes all things possible.
Verna is an author, educational consultant, business concierge, coach, consultant, and professional speaker. She spent the last twenty-three years serving in various roles within higher education and has recently left the industry to devote herself full-time to serving as the Founder and CEO of Inspired Strategies, LLC a consulting and professional development firm.
Inspired Strategies was birthed out of her passion for strategic planning and her gifts to outline practical steps and processes to realize visions and goals. The company’s mission is to help individuals, businesses and educational institutions align their purpose and strategic plans with actionable steps to achieve the transformational change needed to produce long-lasting, sustainable, and life-changing results.
Verna’s book, Living BIG: Bold, Inspired, and Gifted – Shattering the Looking Glass to Release the Greatness Within, was birthed out of a true passion to see those who doubt their gifts, skills, and abilities shift their mindset beyond their own marred presumptions of themselves to unleash the beast of potential that resides in every one of us. She hopes that by sharing her own story, every reader would be encouraged to reposition and realign their vision of themselves to take the action they need to achieve all they ever dreamed!
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